BSkyB launches HDTV push before World Cup

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LONDON (Reuters) - BSkyB unveiled details for its high-definition TV (HDTV) service on Thursday ahead of the World Cup, which the broadcasting industry hopes will showcase the next-generation service to consumers.

Sky subscribers will be able to see World Cup matches broadcast by the BBC in high definition, which offers a drastically sharper and more vivid picture. For the full benefit of the new format, an HDTV-ready television set is required.

However, Sky has yet to cut a deal to show HDTV programming from ITV, which will broadcast roughly half of World Cup matches.

Analysts at market research firm Screen Digest have warned that the roll-out of HDTV may be too late to reach large numbers of European consumers in time for the this summer's football championship in Germany.

BSkyB's HDTV set-top box, manufactured by Thomson, will cost 299 pounds plus 10 pounds per month on top of a normal Sky subscription. The box, which will include a hard drive capable of recording 30 hours of HDTV programming, will go on sale next week, with installations due to begin in May, although the broadcaster has been taking pre-orders for nearly a year.

ITV, the BBC and Channel 4, and RTL's Channel 5 are meanwhile launching a limited HDTV trial that will reach about 500 households in London this summer. The service will be broadcast from digital terrestrial antennas similar to those used by the Freeview service.

Because of bandwidth constraints, Freeview is not expected to offer significant HDTV service until at least 2012, when the analogue terrestrial TV signal is swtiched off.

Source
reuters.co.uk

Image: Wayne Rooney, the England player stands next to the FIFA World Cup trophy in London in this March 23, 2006 file photo. BSkyB unveiled details for its high-definition TV (HDTV) service on April 6 ahead of the World Cup, which the broadcasting industry hopes will showcase the next-generation service to consumers. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty
 

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