The Independent Film Channel (IFC) has struck a rash of carriage deals that extend the number of households that can watch it.

Rainbow Media Holdings, which owns IFC, said that the channel had agreed a long-term carriage agreements with satellite platform DirecTV and also with cable operators Adelphia Communications and Charter Communications. IFC also reached a long-term carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable, which will provide the network with an additional 3 million viewing subscribers by the close of 2003.

The company also said with the new agreements, in addition to existing carriage agreements, IFC is expected to increase its distribution by another three million subscribers by the end of 2001, becoming available to 50.5 million homes.

IFC, which has also become a US theatrical distributor, recently bought Jesse Peretz's digital semi-improvisational comedy The Chateau which had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. And this week sees the opening of Jim McKay's Our Song, an IFC-backed production that received an ecstatic review in the New York Times.

But at Cannes IFC's distribution arm was beaten to the punch by USA Films on Mira Nair's film Monsoon Wedding, even though IFC's production wing had also financed that Delhi-set romantic comedy. Ironically, USA's owner Barry Diller was at one point negotiating to buy IFC as part of a portfolio of Cablevision programming networks that have since become part-owned by MGM.

DirecTV is also expanding its footprint. DirecTV Latin America has received authorisation from the Uruguayan government to provide satellite television services to Uruguay subscribers. That would make it the first satellite player formally approved in the country.