Singapore begins HDTV trials

Singapore will this month begin testing high-definition television (HDTV), becoming the first country in south-east Asia to transmit in the burgeoning format.

Trials will coincide with the start of the FIFA World Cup and will be run by broadcasters MediaCorp and StarHub, with the former providing set-top boxes for terrestrial transmissions and the latter broadcasting over its digital cable network.

Korea and Japan have already begun commercial HD broadcasts in Asia. But Singapore is looking to become the continent's media hub, and between 20,000 and 30,000 HD televisions have already been sold to consumers.

However, the trials, which will last several months, will see just 2,000 households receive high-definition programmes (1,000 by DTT and 1,000 by cable). Participants will have the opportunity to view all 64 World Cup games, as well as movies, documentaries and entertainment shows.

Following the testing, StarHub, the city state's only cable operator, is expected to launch its full service later this year, while MediaCorp will decide later when to roll-out HDTV.

Media Corp, Singapore's major broadcaster, estimates that the cost of introducing high-definition television will cost around S$100m (£34m). The company is also hoping to introduce HD programming to China.