Stateside media group Cablevision Systems will launch its new nationwide satellite-TV service on October 15.

Earlier this year the cable group announced it would challenge existing satellite operators DirecTV and EchoStar – which between them boast over 20 million subscribers – using the Rainbow 1 satellite launched in July [WAMN: 18-Jul-03]. But until now, the company has been reticent as to its plans for the TV platform.

Dubbed Voom, the service will transmit 39 high-definition channels (including 21 exclusive offerings) plus 88 in standard definition, the company announced this week. However, no details of price or marketing strategy have yet been released.

Analysts have questioned Voom's capacity to challenge EchoStar and DirecTV. But the heavy emphasis on high-definition broadcasts suggests Cablevision is targeting a niche market.

Nearly six million Americans have purchased HDTV sets, but broadcasters have been slow to respond with compatible programming. "We will fill that gap," promised Mickey Alpert, chief operating officer of Cablevision's satellite unit Rainbow DBS.

Data sourced from: The Washington Post Online; additional content by WARC staff