First Signals Received From DIRECTV 12 Satellite





First Signals Received From DIRECTV 12 Satellite

Bill Goldston
First Signals From DIRECTV 12 Satellite Received

December 30, 2009 – DIRECTV 12 lifted off on an International Launch Services Proton Breeze M vehicle on December 28 at 4:22 p.m. Pacific time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Controllers at the ground station in Hartebeesthoek, South Africa, reported spacecraft acquisition at 1:38 a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday. Boeing began receiving the first on-orbit signals from DIRECTV 12 nine hours after launch, indicating that the satellite is healthy and operating normally. DIRECTV 12 is a Boeing 702 commercial satellite that will provide consumer television programming to millions of U.S. households. 

"Yesterday's launch marks the 10th satellite Boeing has built and launched for DIRECTV, as well as the 22nd Boeing 702 satellite to fly in space," said Craig Cooning, Boeing vice president and general manager of Space and Intelligence Systems. "We are pleased that DIRECTV 12 is performing as planned and will continue to support the satellite through on-orbit testing in the coming months. From design and integration to launch and signal acquisition, our team has ensured that DIRECTV's new 702 will help them continue to deliver high-definition (HD) digital programming while maintaining excellent quality service." 

Handover of DIRECTV 12 is scheduled for early 2010. Together with DIRECTV 10 and 11, the new satellite will help significantly expand DIRECTV's HDTV broadcasting to consumers across the contiguous United States, Hawaii and Alaska. 


DirecTV is a direct broadcast satellite service based in El Segundo, California, which transmits digital satellite television and audio to households in the United States. Its primary competitors are Dish Network and cable providers. DirecTV currently has 18 million subscribers. The service was launched on June 17, 1994 and is now owned by The DirecTV Group, which is controlled by Liberty Media.

DirecTV has its own network called The 101 Network, available only to DirecTV subscribers in the United States. DirecTV is also the exclusive U.S. rights holder to sports packages NFL Sunday Ticket, NCAA Mega March Madness, and NASCAR Hot Pass.

DirecTV provides television and audio services to subscribers through satellite transmissions. Services include the equivalent of many local television stations, broadcast television networks, subscription television services, satellite radio services, and private video services. Subscribers have access to dozens or hundreds of channels, so its competitors are cable television service and other satellite-based services.


Most subscribers use reception antennas which are much smaller than the first generation services, which used antennas a few yards (meters) across. The small antenna size is a characteristic of direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service, which uses more powerful satellite transmissions than previous satellites could produce. Receiving equipment includes a satellite dish, an integrated receiver/decoder and a DirecTV access card, which is necessary to operate the receiver/decoder.  

Consumers who purchased DirecTV equipment subscribe to various packages of DirecTV programming for which the subscriber pays a monthly fee. A subscriber also can order pay-per-view events and movies. DirecTV contracts with and pays program providers such as cable networks, motion picture distributors, sports leagues, event promoters, and other programming rights holders, for the right to distribute their programming to its subscribers. All programming distributed by DirecTV is delivered to its broadcast centers in Castle Rock, Colorado, and Los Angeles, California, where it is then digitized and compressed. The resulting signal is encrypted, or electronically scrambled, by DirecTV to prevent its unauthorized reception. DirecTV then transmits these signals to several satellites located in stationary orbit approximately 22,300 miles above the equator.  

On Friday, June 17, 1994, the USSB and DirecTV programming services were launched. Digital Equipment Corporation provided the hardware for DIRECTV, Matrix Marketing (part of Cincinnati Bell) provided customer care, and DBS Systems created the billing software, and is still the provider (as Amdocs) to this day.

  • In 1998, DirecTV acquired USSB for $1.3 billion.

  • In 1999, DirecTV acquired PrimeStar for $1.83 billion.

  • In 2000, DirecTV abandoned the Japanese market.

  • In 2002, DirecTV was the Mexican licensed broadcaster for the 2002 FIFA World Cup

  • In 2003, a merger with EchoStar, owner of Dish Network, fell through. On December 22, 2003, General Motors sold controlling interest in Hughes Electronics to News Corporation, forming the DirecTV Group.  

Certain conditions exist, however, in that News Corp must solve disputes with companies that carry its broadcast and cable channels. The corporation must treat all stations equally, not tilt in favor of the Fox Network and FX. The arbitration was to alleviate concerns that Fox would pull its network programming, which includes professional baseball and football, off cable systems to encourage viewers to subscribe to DirecTV. News Corp. agreed not to pull either the network programming or its regional sports networks while a dispute was being arbitrated. 

In November 2006, News Corporation announced its intention to transfer its managing interest in The DirecTV Group to John Malone's Liberty Media; in return it bought back Liberty's shares in News Corp., giving the Murdoch family tighter control of the latter firm. On February 29, 2008, after receiving FCC approval, Liberty completed its acquisition of News Corporation's shares of DirecTV. Liberty put DirecTV's Puerto Rican operations in a trust to satisfy the FCC's requirement that it or Liberty Global's cable provider on the island be divested. In 2004, DirecTV abandoned the Mexican market, though it maintains 41% ownership of Sky Mexico.  

On November 15, 2005, DirecTV stopped carrying Music Choice audio-only channels, replacing it with 73 channels of XM Satellite Radio.

In 2007, DirecTV abandons the Brazilian market (the customers being migrated to the 74% DTV-owned Brazilian affiliate of SKY Latin America).  

DirecTV started a major upgrade to support HDTV. On January 9, 2007, DirecTV announced that they would introduce up to 100 national HD channels during 2007, all of which would be MPEG-4 encoded. On October 15, 2007, DirecTV announces that they now have 70 national high-definition channels available, with up to 100 coming by year end. On October 3, 2008, DirecTV announced that it will offer HD local channels in 121 markets by year-end.  

  • As of June 30, 2007, DirecTV had 16.32 million subscribers.

  • On December 13, 2007, DirecTV purchases most of the assets of ReplayTV from D&M Holdings.

  • On May 4, 2009, DirecTV said it would become a part of Liberty's entertainment unit, part of which would then be spun off as a separate company called DirecTV. Liberty would increase its share of DirecTV from 48 to 54 percent.

  • On August 2009 Directv acquired Home Services Provider Connect Television Inc., increasing its workforce by more than a thousand employees.

On November 18, 2009, it was announced that DirecTV hired former PepsiCo International CEO Michael White as its new President and CEO. He will start on January 1, 2010. He will replace Chase Carey, now at News Corporation.

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