This excerpt taken from the DTV DEF 14A filed Apr 21, 2008.
How is the determination made as to when awards are granted, including awards of equity-based compensation such as options?
The Committee intends to grant annual bonuses and/or annual long-term stock-based incentives to executives not more than once each year, typically during the first quarter of the calendar year. The value of the incentive awards will be set on the date of the grant or on a future date that is established on the date the awards are granted. As needed, for example, to recruit a new executive, long-term incentives would be awarded at the hire date with the value of the incentive award set on the date of the grant.