Move headed by Media Development Authority

SINGAPORE — High-definition television trials launch this month with World Cup soccer on StarHub digital cable and “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” on MediaCorp terrestrial.

Move is spearheaded by the Media Development Authority of Singapore to speed the deployment and adoption of HD technology nationwide. Singapore becomes the first country in Southeast Asia to conduct such HDTV trials.

“The MDA is actively working with industry players to provide quality HD content and services on multiple media platforms in Singapore,” said MDA chief exec Christopher Chia.

“The trials are an important step in … allowing service providers to explore viable business opportunities as they harness HD technology to provide consumers with wider choices and better quality services.”

Starting June 10, StarHub’s 1,000 HDTV trial participants can view all 64 live World Cup soccer matches in hi-def format. After the tournament, trial participants will get two HD channels offering documentaries and entertainment.

MediaCorp will launch its HDTV trial June 18 with “The Two Towers.” During its six-month trial covering 1,000 households, 10 community clubs and retail outlets, an average of 14 hours of HD content per week will be telecast during primetime, which runs 7-11 p.m. These will include locally produced and acquired programs as well as simulcasts of programming converted to HD format.

Chang Long Jong, MediaCorp deputy group CEO (television) said, “We look forward to the trial as an important step for us to offer a better viewing experience for Singaporeans as well as a chance to explore new business opportunities.”

Chang describes the potential for HD content as much bigger than just the Singapore market, looking for co-productions with China on Chinese dramas, for example.

MDA is encouraging more made-by-Singapore programs to shoot in HD format by partnering with producers like Bang Prods., Mega Media and One Take Production.

Under a pact with Mega Media and New York-based Rainbow HD Holdings, $20 million worth of HD programming is being produced for first airing on Rainbow HD’s Voom HD Networks.

Also, One Take and China’s Xi’an Film Studio have co-produced HD drama “Love Misplaced.”

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