Sky News is to begin its HD service at 9pm 6 May to coincide with the forthcoming general election. The high definition channel, which had a solid trial with The Sky News Debate last week, will feature on Sky channel 517 and be simulcast alongside its existing standard definition version.

The broadcaster has also given the studio and graphic presentation a bit of a spit and polish to deliver a clearer, crisper look to suit HD imagery. And, from 10 May, the channel will adopt onscreen HD Premium Panels, which will provide contextual detail about the key stories of the day - including live video feeds and real-time text analysis.

John Ryley, head of Sky News, is keen to stress that the channel will offer "sharper pictures and enhanced services for HD viewers", and that the news coverage has been improved to match the natty new picture quality: "The detail of Sky News HD is stunning - I hope our viewers will enjoy the new experience".

Decision Time, Sky News' general election results programme, will be the first to be broadcast on the new channel.

In a related story, BSkyB has also announced that over one in four of its customers have a Sky+HD box installed. 2.5 million viewers can access the station's hi-def services, and it has promised that there will be over 50 HD channels available on the network by the end of 2010.