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Is HDTV Finally Coming to Europe?

Europe has set its sights on bringing HD to TV viewers with Euro1080, a new satellite TV channel that will start broadcasting only in HD throughout the continent on Jan. 1, 2004. Supporting the start-up of the channel is Alfacam, which manufactures HD production trucks in Europe.

Euro1080 officials said the channel will provide sports, music, events, shows, entertainment and European films as content and view the channel's inception as a key element in bringing HD into the European living room. It also notes that content owners, media producers, production companies and their broadcast suppliers and the consumer electronics industry will all be key players in the effort.

The long term objective of Euro1080 is to address a large number of consumers with HDTV sets at home, but overall target three audiences: electronic cinemas, homes and "small venues" including sports bars, small theaters and hotel chains. "...we also believe that by starting the distribution of quality content through public places, we will reach a large audience quickly, and as such speed up the process of acceptance and penetration of HD devices in the homes."

With a launch date of less than a year away, there will be few domestic HDTV sets in Europe, so the channel is expected to distribute its content through theaters with HD projection capabilities and venues like sports bars already equipped with plasma screens or other HD displays. The HDTV image will be distributed via satellite, which, says Euro1080 supporters, offers a growth path to gradually increase the number of households with HD screens or sets. Consumers will receive their signals either through a regular dish with HD decoder or through their cable company, when it starts to carry the signals that they receive from the satellite.

Euro1080 is currently looking for investors, including media consortia, broadcasters, producers and venture capitalists.