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BSkyB, BBC kick off high-def service

Subscribers will be charged an extra $17 a month

LONDON — Rupert Murdoch’s satcaster BSkyB will launch its high-definition service in May, the first widely available in the U.K.

It will charge subscribers an extra £10 ($17) a month following an initial outlay of $500 for the set-top box.

There had been speculation that Sky HD might be delayed because of technical problems, but Brian Sullivan, Sky’s director of product strategy and management, said: “Sky is just weeks away from an exciting new era that will transform the television viewing experience.”

The BBC announced Thursday that it would screen this summer’s World Cup soccer and Wimbledon tennis championship in high definition as part of a trial that bows in May.

The BBC’s HD coverage of the World Cup will be available to all customers with a Sky HD box as a non-subscription channel, according to Sullivan.

Entertainment web Sky One HD, Artsworld HD, National Geographic HD, Discovery HD, Sky Box Office HD and Sky Sports HD are among the channels the satcaster will offer in the new standard.

Blighty has lagged behind the U.S. in rolling out HD: A limited cable-delivered HD bowed this month on Telewest’s cable system.