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Pending World Cup Accelerates HD in Europe

The ProSiebenSat.1 Group in late October became the first TV corporation in Europe to feed HD content to consumers on a regular basis. Its two HD stations became available on Oct. 26 via the Astra satellite system. Part of the timing is based on the much-anticipated World Cup, which will be held in Germany next spring and will be aired by several parties in HD.

ProSieben has an arrangement with Sony, and Sat.1 has one with Sharp Electronics of Germany/Austria. Both ventures are planning extensive, long-term multimedia marketing campaigns on HD to alert consumers to the new format.

Channels Sat.1 HD and ProSieben HD will be simulcast in HD and programs not available in native HD format, the company said in a statement, "will be upconverted to at least DVD quality."

Sat.1 HD and ProSieben HD will be distributed using the DVB-S 2 modulation process. Both HD stations will feature 1080i/25 fps, using the new MPEG4/AVC compression standard. An American firm, Conexant, enabled the first MPEG4 decoding for Sat.1 HD and ProSieben HD at October's Medientage München, a Bavarian media event held in Munich.

Britain's BSkyB, (opens in new tab) France's CanalSat, and Italy's Sky Italia also plan to introduce HD channels in time for the World Cup matches.