Ion Taps SES Americom For HD Delivery

Launches flagship network on AMC-1 bird

Ion Media Networks has signed a multi-year distribution deal with satellite operator SES Americom to launch its three networks in high definition using SES Americom capacity.

Flagship network Ion Television HD launches this week on SES’ “HD-Prime” neighborhood on the AMC-1 satellite, and will be broadcast locally by Ion’s 60 local stations. Ion’s qubo, a multilingual kid’s network, and Ion Life, a digital network devoted to active lifestyles, plan to launch in HD later this year and will be distributed via cable and satellite partners.

The HD distribution agreement between Ion and SES Americom runs through the life of the AMC-1 satellite, a hybrid C- and Ku-band spacecraft that was launched in 1996.  Ion has used SES Americom capacity for 13 years to deliver its programming.

“Ion has tapped expanded distribution capacity aboard HD-Prime to offer our programming in a crisp high-definition picture quality to viewers in more than 94 million homes across the country” said Mark Greenlee, senior vice president of network operations at Ion Media Networks, in a statement. “SES Americom provides the reach and reliability Ion Media Networks counts on day in and day out to serve both our cable and broadcast audiences nationwide.”

Ion had originally planned to begin broadcasting HD on Feb. 16, but postponed its HD launch by a month after Congress moved the analog shut-off date from Feb. 17 to June 12.

“Ion Media Networks is well positioned with HD-Prime to meet the needs of its discerning affiliates and HD audiences today and as the innovative network expands its HD offerings in the future,” added Bryan McGuirk, senior vice president of global media services at SES Americom, in a statement.  “Ion Television’s HD premiere comes at an exciting time, just ahead of the digital transition and as HD truly hits its stride aboard the HD distribution leader – HD-Prime.”