DirecTV Japan Management Inc. had 109,000 subscribers in Japan as of Tuesday, said Chairman Gareth Chang in his first release of subscription figures since the firm was launched in December.

Chang, who is also senior vice president of Hughes Electronics, which owns 32 percent of DirecTV, said DirecTV expanded its number of channels from 63 to 88 in April, and that the total number of channels will reach about 130 by fall. The additional channels will air more Japanese sports programs, Western movies and pay-per-view programs, he added.

DirecTV is battling it out in Japan with SKYPerfecTV, the digital broadcaster recently formed by a merger between PerfecTV Corp. and Japan Broadcasting Co. (JSkyB). The new broadcaster offers a 171-channel service and had 672,000 subscribers as of the end of April. “The only advantage they have is the number of subscribers they had prior to their merger,” Chang said, claiming that DirecTV’s basic package of programming offers the best value for customers, and that the company has better technology and more experience in providing satellite broadcasting services.

In the U.S., DirecTV enjoys a majority share of the digital satellite broadcasting market, with about 3.6 million subscribers. It also has 350,000 subscribers in 12 countries in Latin America. Chang said he was satisfied with the number of subscribers here, considering the state of the economy. “What we have is a great foundation to grow from,” he said.

However, he also said it was difficult to attract viewers in the Japanese market and that it would take time to penetrate because the Japanese are not yet used to having multichannel options. SKYPerfecTV has said it hopes to sign up nearly 1.5 million viewers by the end of the current business year, but Chang declined to give a target number for DirecTV.

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