A&E HD Launches In Quiet
The high-def simulcast of the variety channel is only available in a few markets.
By Phillip Swann
Washington, D.C. (October 12, 2006) -- A&E is one of cable's most popular networks. So you would think that A&E's launch of a High-Definition TV channel would generate a lot of press.
A&E HD, a high-def simulcast of the network's analog lineup, launched during last month's Labor Day weekend However, the company did not issue an official press release marking the event -- nor was there any coverage in the trade or consumer media. (A&E did notify the press last March of the Labor Day launch.)
A possible reason for keeping quiet about such an important occasion?
A&E HD, which includes such shows as American Justice and Cold Case Files, is only available in a handful of programming lineups.
Cox Cable has agreed to carry the channel, but thus far, only in a few cities, including San Diego, according to an A&E spokesman. The only other carrier in the United States is a small cable outfit in Minneapolis, the spokesman said. (It's also available on a few cable systems in Canada.)
However, he added that the company is negotiating carriage with other cable and satellite providers.
It's a good bet that A&E will issue a press release if and when it gets those carriage deals.
Final Note: A&E HD will air a concert special starring Paul McCartney on October 28. The event was filmed with 25 different HD cameras. But unless you live in San Diego or Minneapolis, you'll have to catch the non-HD version on the regular A&E channel.
A&E's current difficulty in landing carriage agreements should quiet the critics who say that basic cable networks are dragging their feet on high-def. At this point, the cable and satellite operators have little space available for new HD channels. That will soon change, but why should a network launch a HD channel now when there's no guarantee that anyone will actually be able to watch it?