BBC to trial HD Television

The BBC will trial broadcasts of high definition television in 2006, it announced today.

In the limited technical trials, it is planned to simulcast highlights of BBC ONE's peaktime schedule in high definition on satellite and cable, as available, from mid-2006.

The BBC already shoots major productions such as Rome and Bleak House in high definition and the BBC has a target to move all production to high definition by 2010.

The BBC is also seeking to run a technical terrestrial trial in the London area at the same time.

The BBC is considering collaboration with other broadcasters on the terrestrial trial. The purpose of the trials is to test delivery and reception of high definition broadcasts on the major television platforms.

She said: "From colour and widescreen to digital radio and television, the BBC has always been at the forefront of innovations in broadcasting. Our promise to our licence payers is to give them the highest quality television, so the time is right for the BBC to get involved in high definition".

Richard Freudenstein, Sky's Chief Operating Officer, said: "HD will bring a huge leap forward in picture quality when Sky's service launches on satellite next year. The BBC's commitment to HD is very positive news for this exciting technology and ensures that viewers will be able to enjoy an even wider choice of programmes in HD quality. Falling prices for HD Ready TVs available before Christmas are also contributing to growing interest in Sky's plans to launch HD".

The BBC trial will start on each platform once they become technically viable, and it is expected that these trials will last for about a year. There will be no impact on any current standard service.

Sky has announced plans to launch a commercial HD service to subscribers next year and cable companies are also forming plans.

For the terrestrial trial, the BBC will apply to Ofcom for temporary use of an unused frequency currently not allocated to broadcasters and unsuitable for conventional broadcast use.

Capacity for high definition broadcasts on terrestrial television (Freeview) will be very limited until digital switchover - between 2008 and 2012.


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