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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 13:07 GMT
High-definition TV 'in shortage'
David Beckham celebrates scoring against Argentina in the 2002 World Cup
England's World Cup campaign begins on 10 June in Frankfurt
A Europe-wide shortage of TV set top boxes means fewer viewers will watch the World Cup in high definition than expected, says a report.

The tournament had been expected to showcase HDTV but a Screen Digest study says a decoder chips shortage means the opportunity will be "partly missed".

"European players are struggling to get HD-capable set-top-boxes in sufficient numbers for consumers," says the study.

HDTV provides a sharper image than the current standard television picture.

Analyst Vincent Letang, who wrote the Screen Digest report, said the delay would only be a short term problem.

'Future standard'

He said: "The World Cup in Germany was supposed to be the perfect kick-start for HD in Europe and its full thrust will be partly missed, but this does not jeopardise the introduction of HDTV."

Mr Letang said the conditions were in place for HDTV to "become the standard quality of television".

The report said Europe had two million "HD-ready" households by the end of 2005 - and by 2010 there would be more than 50 million HDTV sets in place.

Cable company Telewest launched the UK's first high definition service last week.

Ronaldo in World Cup 2002
Holders Brazil will be defending their title in Germany

Sky intends to launch a HD service soon, offering film, sports and documentary channels.

And the BBC is expected to reveal details of its HDTV service soon, which may include World Cup coverage.

Meanwhile, a digital TV channel is to screen live World Cup matches under a deal with the BBC.

UKTV G2 will screen 31 games, including England's opening tie against Paraguay, using the BBC's coverage but with its own commentators and presenters.

The channel, owned by BBC Worldwide and Telewest, has also agreed with ITV that it can show highlights of all 64 games.

Mainstream channels which own rights to "listed" sports events must offer licences to digital channels under law.

Entertainment regulars

UKTV G2 will show high-profile live matches involving Brazil and France, as well as the World Cup final as well as a daily highlights show and a series of pre-match programmes.

A UKTV G2 spokeswoman said the presenting team had not been finalised but would be more "fan-orientated" than the coverage on BBC and ITV.

The channel already has a licence to show highlights of the Six Nations rugby tournament from the BBC.

Its schedule includes BBC entertainment shows such as Little Britain, Top Gear and They Think It's All Over.

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