Hi-def a high priority for Adelphia

Co. expands HDTV offering

Mark Cuban’s HDNet has added another cable distribution platform, this time with Adelphia Communications. Cabler, which is trying to emerge from bankruptcy protection, has agreed to carry HDNet and HDNet Movies to its high-definition-enabled subscribers.

In a rare forward move to upgrade its service offering despite its current financial limitations, Adelphia is deploying high-def services in several of its markets serving half of its 5.3 million customers, and anticipates rolling out the two 24-hour nets “in the near future.” Pricing for the package has not yet been finalized, the company said.

“HDNet on Adelphia will underscore our commitment to rebuilding the company, upgrading our network and offering customers cutting edge digital video entertainment and services,” said Judy Meyka, Adelphia’s senior vice president of programming.

HDNet and HDNet Movies offer a mix of live, original and licensed programming, produced and delivered in 1080i HDTV format. Original HDNet series include “HDNet World Report,” “Hollywood HD,” “Across America,” “HDNet Concert Series,” “True Music,” the “NHL on HDNet,” the “MLS on HDNet” and “Higher Definition.” The movie channel has output deals with Warner Bros., New Line, Paramount, MGM, Buena Vista, Lions Gate and Sony Pictures Television.

The HDNet networks already have carriage deals with Charter, Insight and Time Warner Cable as well as satcasters DirecTV and EchoStar.

Earlier this month, Adelphia completed the overhaul of its board of directors, naming Anthony T. Kronman, dean of Yale Law School and an expert on legal ethics and governance issues, as lead director.

Board members Dennis Coyle and Erland Kailbourne resigned after serving through most of 2003 to facilitate the transition to a new board.

Adelphia chairman and CEO William T. Schleyer said the company was now in an “excellent position” to emerge from Chapter 11 later this year and operate as a strong, vital and independent organization. Most observers, however, expect Time Warner or Comcast to consider buying the company.

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