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Satellite dishes face obsolescence

Some video experts believe that satellite dishes, which have become a major part of the American landscape, are doomed to become extinct. They predict that Direct Broadcast Systems (DBS), such as the new DirecTV, will replace the big, concave antennas which capture signals from satellites orbiting in space. DirecTV is expected to be introduced by Hughes Communications in 1994.

The Hughes system, which will deliver over 100 channels of digital TV, operates with a small 18-inch dish which picks up signals transmitted from a new high-powered satellite.

However, it's expected it will take time for the big dishes to disappear. In other countries where direct broadcast systems have been introduced, they have not replaced the older satellite receivers.

One reason is that the satellite industry has solved the signal-theft problem. This allows more programing to be put on the satellite without fear of having offerings pilfered. Last fall, a new scrambling system was put into service which cut channel poaching from about 30 percent to virtually zero.