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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 13:02 GMT
BBC to trial high-definition TV
BBC series Rome, filmed in high-definition format
The BBC has filmed series such as Rome in high-definition format
The BBC will begin trial broadcasts of high-definition television (HDTV) next year, director of TV Jana Bennett has confirmed.

Highlights of its schedule will be made available in high-definition format to selected digital satellite and cable viewers from mid-2006.

The BBC also aims to test the format on digital terrestrial TV in London.

Current series Bleak House and Rome have been made in HDTV, which requires a compatible TV and receiver.

Sharper image

HDTV provides a sharper, clearer and more colourful image than the current standard television picture.

This is due to the way the picture is filmed, broadcast and displayed on compatible HDTV sets, which use a greater number of pixels to display images than on a standard television set.

Many HDTV broadcasts will also include a soundtrack which will provide surround sound to viewers using appropriate speakers.

Jana Bennett
The time is right for the BBC to get involved in high definition
BBC director of television Jana Bennett
BBC director general Mark Thompson has pledged to deliver free-to-air HDTV on all BBC digital platforms "as soon as practical", which is expected to be by about 2010.

The BBC trials aim to test out how HDTV broadcasts are transmitted and received. The corporation said they would not affect the reception of current channels.

Its trials are expected to last a year. The BBC has yet to decide how many participants will take part in the trials, or how they will be selected.

Sky service

Sky also plans to launch its own HDTV service in 2006, which will include live Premiership football.

The HDTV system is already available in Japan, Canada, Australia and South Korea and the US, and compatible HDTV sets are already on sale in the UK.

On Tuesday BBC director of television Jana Bennett said: "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.

"High definition may take time to grow in Britain, but as with the other technologies we helped to build, the BBC wants to prepare now to be able to deliver the benefits of HDTV to all its licence payers in the long term."

The BBC aims to produce all its programmes in high-definition format by 2010.

A BBC spokeswoman said there was a possibility that next year's football World Cup would be broadcast in high definition format as part of its trials.

"It would be a great opportunity to test high-definition broadcasting from a live event," said a BBC spokeswoman.

"We hope the World Cup would be a part of the trial but that has still to be confirmed."

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