Unity Motion to Broadcast HDTV

On June 17, Unity Motion announced an agreement with Turner Engineering under which Turner will supply high-definition television (HDTV) broadcast-engineering expertise to Unity Motion, which this year begins transmitting multiple channels of HDTV via satellite to subscribers in the US. In addition, Unity Motion announced that it will broadcast the first national satellite-based HDTV signal in the US on June 23-25.

According to Sean Henry, Unity Motion's vice president of sales and marketing, "For the past six years, our company has been methodically working to realize our vision of bringing HDTV into homes nationwide. This national broadcast is the next step in our plan, and it's a significant one because it demonstrates a vastly superior technology and shows others how they can benefit from it."

Although HDTV programming has been broadcast locally in various parts of the country, Unity Motion is the first to send HDTV over a national direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) system. It is also the first company to offer both HDTV programming and viewing equipment that can transmit and receive progressive and interlaced HDTV signals (see previous story). In addition, the national broadcast is part of Unity Motion's spring and summer adjustment and calibration of its broadcast system.

This historic event, which is called Broadcast Number One, will transmit two channels---one at 1080i and the other at 480p---and the program material will feature the movie Jumanji as well as 30 minutes of short segments that demonstrate the versatility and vitality of HDTV. Seattle PBS station KCTS will simultaneously broadcast the program, and there will be a live HDTV camera at Definitive Audio, a high-end home-theater dealer in Bellevue, WA.

According to Unity Motion, the broadcast is a vital step in its plan to build a high-definition distribution system. "Consumers win because they will finally have the high quality of HDTV available on a reliable system that will not become outdated. Programmers and networks win by being able to send HDTV signals to a national audience. And manufacturers win by being able to sell products to a consumer base that they are not currently equipped to reach."

Later this summer, the company plans to broadcast a variety of movies, sports, entertainment, educational, and informational programming, as well as programming from other broadcasters. By September 20, Unity plans to broadcast material 24 hours a day from a wide variety of sources, including networks, PBS, cable channels, premium channels, movie studios, independent and international stations, and others.

According to a company statement, Unity Motion's programming will be sent in---and its equipment will receive---all HDTV formats, including 1080i, 480p, 720p, and 1050p (upconverted 525i). "This universal approach eliminates the concern consumers have had that any HDTV equipment they buy will become outdated," says Henry.