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Listen up, sports fans. Comcast Cable Communications will launch high-definition TV in the Washington, D.C., metro area and Virginia this summer, and will run its SportsNet coverage of pro sports events on the service starting in 2003. The company plans to offer HDTV in all of its major markets by the end of the year.

The company says costs of HDTV sets are coming down, while the amount of HDTV programming is on the rise, leading to the decision to launch this year. Comcast deployed the service in Philadelphia late last year.

Washington and Northern Virginia will see the service in mid-summer, with the Maryland suburbs, Detroit and Indianapolis to follow in the second half of the year, the company says. Comcast plans to launch in Washington, D.C., in 2003.

This summer's launch will include the broadcasts of Comcast SportsNet and of WETA-HD, a digital station operated by a Washington public broadcaster.

For its part, SportsNet plans to offer more than 200 professional sporting events in HDTV, starting next year, with half going to Philadelphia and half to Washington. Programming will include games from the Philadelphia Phillies, Flyers and 76ers, as well as the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Wizards and Capitals, Comcast says.

Comcast says it will release details of local packages within the next several weeks.

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