Scrambling For Space

A shakeout looms in digital satellite TV

You can excuse the executives of Hughes Electronics for feeling a little uneasy. Hughes's DirecTV Japan division has shelled out $100 million for a state-of-the-art digital-satellite uplink center north of Tokyo and hired 150 people. But not until the direct-to-home broadcast system is fully tested will the Japanese government license any of the service's programming--or even let DirecTV publicize its lineup of shows. "We've had to invest before we had approval," said C. Michael Armstrong, chairman of Hughes Electronics Corp., which owns one-third of DirecTV. "Japan is the only country in the world like this."

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