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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — The bad news is that cable TV subscribers on Okinawa bases are losing two weeks of programming.

The good news is that starting Saturday there will no longer be a two-week delay in the airing of subscribers’ favorite stateside shows carried by Mediatti Broadband Communications.

"In the past, our programming from the States was recorded to DVD from our facility in San Francisco and shipped here, requiring a two-week delay," said Blake Williams, president and general manager of Mediatti. "Now, we’re going to what we consider live streaming video through fiber optics."

Well, almost live.

Mediatti is going to "time shift" its programming so cable customers won’t have to wake up at 4 a.m. to watch their favorite prime-time shows. What’s on Showtime at 7 p.m. Monday, for example, will air here at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Williams said.

"The quality will also be better," Williams said Thursday in Mediatti’s offices on Kadena. "Because we were compressing eight hours of video on one DVD, we lost a little bit of the quality of the picture when decompressing on this side of the ocean. But now, there’ll be less decompression.

"You’ll definitely see a difference," he added. "The picture will be sharper. The edges of the frames won’t be as soft as they were, and there won’t be so much bleeding of colors."

Mediatti carries 64 channels, including all American Forces Network programming, local access and international channels the company pulls off satellites. The channels downloaded in California and delivered via fiber optics to Okinawa — such as Comedy Central, Turner Classic Movies, Bravo and Lifetime — are the ones that now will be shown the next day.

"The unfortunate part in this shift in technology is we have to do it in one day, so our customers will lose two weeks," Williams said. "That’s why we chose to do it in the summer when the channels are showing a lot of reruns."

Williams said Mediatti started working closely with NTT, the company’s fiber optics provider, in October to accomplish the change in service.

Although it cost several hundred thousand dollars to complete, there will be no additional charge to the customers, he said.

Mediatti serves about 9,000 cable TV customers on Okinawa military bases. It also provides broadband Internet to 12,000 customers.

Future projects, Williams said, include negotiating with companies that balked in the past at having their programs air two weeks late.

"We are also looking into expanding our fiber optics capability, so we can offer high-definition programming, which takes up more space," he said.


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