Primestar to add channels

NEW YORK — Primestar, which distributes packages of cable networks, movies and sports to satellite dish owners, will add Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet next month, along with three pay multiplexes — HBO Family West, Showtime 3 East and Starz 2 West — and five pay-per-view channels.

The buying habits of Primestar subscribers have pushed the company to focus on movies in the nine add-on channels, says Denny Wilkinson, senior VP of marketing and programming for Primestar.

The nine new channels bring Primestar’s total lineup to 160 channels, including 20 movie networks and 15 pay-per-view channels.

Six weeks ago, Primestar engineered a restructuring after buying out the satellite assets of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and MCI. Except for GE, which owns 4%, Primestar’s owners are cable operators: John Malone’s Tele-Communications Inc. owns 37%, Time Warner/Newhouse 30%, Media One (formerly Continental) 10%, Comcast 10% and Cox 9%.

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