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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 15:28 GMT
BBC to screen World Cup in HDTV
Sporting action is said to benefit from high-definition television
The BBC is to screen this summer's football World Cup and Wimbledon championships in High-definition television (HDTV).

The trial run of the service will include the BBC's share of World Cup matches and key Wimbledon ties in June.

The corporation is trying out HDTV for up to a year, starting in mid-May.

The system delivers more detailed pictures and sharper action shots, and will be an additional stream to the current analogue and digital services.

Blades of grass

HDTV will only be available to viewers who have HD-enabled television sets, set-top boxes and relevant services via satellite and cable distributors.

Roger Mosey, the BBC's director of sport, said the service was particularly effective with live action football and other sports.

"It gives fantastic picture quality, from the blades of grass that are being played on right to the back of the stands," he said.

Plasma television
High-definition pictures are much sharper than conventional television

Mr Mosey stressed that the trial would only be available to a selected group of viewers, but hoped it would prove to be "a glimpse of the future".

The first World Cup match and live HDTV programme to be broadcast will be Germany v Costa Rica on 9 June, which will also include match commentary and studio coverage.

The feed will come from HBS, Germany's host broadcasters for the tournament.

High-definition images will also be fed into standard digital and analogue transmissions of the game and the Wimbledon Championships, where the BBC is the host broadcaster.

Limited airspace

The BBC's HDTV trial, expected to last between six and 12 months, will begin in May with streams of programmes, including Planet Earth and Galapagos.

Chances to revisit action from dramas Hotel Babylon and Bleak House will also be offered.

HDTV transmissions cannot be offered on Freeview at present due to limited airspace, while a trial limited to a few hundred households in London which have yet to be chosen will take place.

The digital switchover between 2008-2012 is expected to provide an opportunity to broadcast HDTV via Freeview.

Any ongoing HDTV service will have to be approved by the new BBC Trust.

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