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Comcast customers to see up to 64 new HD channels

Spokane cable TV customers can dive into dozens of new high-definition channels to be offered by Comcast Corp. starting Aug. 5.

Depending on subscribers’ cable packages, viewers will be able to see up to 64 additional high-definition channels, according to company spokesperson Shauna Causey.

The extra programs are offered at no extra cost.

Many of them are HD versions of already available standard-definition channels. Included in the group are Fox News HD, MSNBC HD, ESPNU HD, MTV HD, Travel HD and VH1 HD.

ESPNU is a sports channel that sometimes is the only way for Gonzaga University basketball fans to watch some games.

The extra channels help Comcast keep up with the competition and respond to consumers, Causey said. “Demand from our subscribers for HD programs is huge,” she said.

The HD onslaught became an option earlier this year when the cable company quit delivering more than 35 channels in analog form. Switching those signals to digital delivery allowed more bandwidth and capacity, Causey said.

Other HD programs, such as extras from HBO and TMC, are available only for customers who order premium channels, Causey said. Sports packages with additional HD offerings are also an extra premium choice.

Subscribers will be able to see the channel lineups at the Comcast Web site.

Causey said the expansion will not necessarily mean a larger-than-normal rate increase later this year.

In the fourth quarter, Comcast traditionally announces a rate increase for its viewers. Causey said she’s heard no discussion of any impact on rates from the extra channels.