Charter Communications Inc. has come through with a promise made in March to deliver high-definition TV services. The MSO has launched its service in five U.S. markets.

Charter customers with HDTV sets in Alhambra/Pasadena and Glendale/Burbank, Calif.; University Park/Highland Park, Texas; Miami Beach, Fla; and Birmingham, Ala. are eligible to receive HDTV programming from HBO and Showtime. During the third quarter, Charter plans to roll out HDTV service in Kalamazoo, Mich. and St. Louis.

The five initial markets are using Scientific-Atlanta's Explorer 3100HD set-top box. The Kalamazoo and St. Louis systems will use Motorola Inc.'s DCT5200.

On March 14, rival Comcast Cable announced plans to launch HDTV service in Washington D.C.'s metro area and in Virginia this summer, with its SportsNet coverage of pro games set to start on the service next year. The company said it plans to offer HDTV in all of its major markets by the end of the year.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Charter is in talks to purchase roughly 1 million subscribers from Adelphia Communications Corp. for as much as $3.5 billion. Earlier this month, Adelphia announced plans to sell roughly half of its subscriber base to round up some much-needed cash.