The 2010 World Cup will be broadcast in high definition following a deal by ITV and Ofcom, the media regulator, it has been announced.By Urmee Khan
Previously viewers had to subscribe to either Sky or cable to see programmes in high definition (HD) - which gives a clearer picture because it is digitally broadcast.
From 2009, HD will be available on terrestrial television via Freeview, a digital TV service which requires a set-top box.
ITV will also broadcast the current peak-time ITV1 schedule in HD, allowing viewers to watch drama series - like Miss Marple - as well as sport, including the FA Cup and the 2010 Football World Cup.
Channel 4 is also expected to show around 150 hours of films, as well as drama, comedy, science and documentaries. The channel submitted a joint proposal to Ofcom with Welsh language broadcaster S4C.
Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, has previously said the BBC will control a third HD slot, which could include shows such as Torchwood and Strictly Come Dancing.
The HD channels on terrestrial TV will achieve nationwide coverage by 2012.
Because the service is being "rolled out", football fans in only some parts of the UK will be able to watch the World Cup in HD on Freeview in 2010. The new services are expected to start in the Granada region next year, with nationwide coverage by the end of digital switchover in 2012.
By then, the whole country will be able to watch the Olympics in HD.
To access the HD programmes, viewers will need an HD-ready TV set and a new HD set-top box, which is not on the market yet.
Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, said: "This is a significant step forward in the range of choice available in the UK.
"It will enable viewers to watch some of the very best programmes free-to-air in high definition through their television aerials."Original here