07.06.2006 12:00 AM
World Cup: BSkyB May Have HD Course Correction
BSkyB may have to reprogram several thousand HD boxes after some surveys found nearly 30 percent of its DBS customers are experiencing some type of problems during the month-long World Cup, which ends Sunday in Germany.

According to the Sunday Herald of Scotland, Sky and some manufacturers "are widely believed to have rushed out their HD services in time for the World Cup" with sales of HD-ready units in the United Kingdom topping £250 million ($460 million) in the month of May alone.

The publication said both the DBS firm and some manufacturers are now facing complaints from a first wave of HD consumers about faulty audio, video freeze up and background noise. The Scottish paper said, "Since the opinion of the so-called early adopters is vital to drive the growth of any new consumer product, this will be seen as a potentially serious blow."

The Sunday Herald reports the new HD units of several manufacturers are affected, with about 3-in-10 sets in the U.K. being reported as having various degrees of problems. The newspaper said it's probable that Sky and the DTV set makers will have to re-engineer or reconfigure their software.

Intellect, a trade association representing manufacturers, has reportedly called a meeting with Sky to discuss possible solutions. However, the meeting may not be held for a few weeks, according to the Sunday Herald. Sky ran into some problems prior to the World Cup when the demand for HD boxes for new HD set owners far outweighed the supply.

When it comes to soccer telecasts, a lot is at stake for both HD viewers and Sky: The DBS company holds broadcast rights to some of the leading football leagues in England and Scotland, and reportedly owns minority stakes in several clubs. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. holds more than one-third interest in Sky.

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