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National Geographic, Fox Team Up for HD Network

National Geographic Channel (NGC) and Fox Networks Group will co-create an HD network by next spring to commemorate NGC's fifth anniversary. NGC's current channel is seen almost exclusively on cable digital tiers, and passes about 55 million households.

Considering its content of remote areas of the globe, viewing such images in HD would be especially appealing to viewers, according to National Geographic. The new HD channel signals a natural progression from its magazine's renowned photographs and the society's current content aired in SD. Beta Research's annual Brand Identity Survey released last spring concluded that NGC was noted among the highest choices respondents would most like to see in HD.

Now virtually all of NGC's current program production is being captured in HD in preparation for the new network, which has spent nearly a year acquiring additional HD programming. When the HD channel launches in early 2006, it estimates more than 90 percent of its prime time programs will be aired in HD.

NGC first launched in January 2001 and had trouble getting onto established analog tiers simply because there was no room for additional channels. Since sign-on, its audiences and ad revenue have grown steadily in each quarter, the company reported. The National Geographic Society is based in Washington, D.C.