Foxtel new plans start with HD

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Foxtel yesterday announced plans to start broadcasting in High Definition. Foxtel will join DirecTV and bSkyb in broadcasting in high definition television, after Seven and Ten launched their HD multi-channel in October and December respectfully.

The new component of Foxtel’s new plan involves a brand new set-top box, dubbed “Foxtel iQ2”. Trials are expected to last between four to six weeks; but will not be available in April.

The announcement overshadows Seven’s plan to launch the popular US set-top box TiVo in Australia. It is still unknown about what content Seven will be releasing onto it or its content partners are. Seven has, however, made Engin a part of the package.

Foxtel chief Kim Williams has said it plans to rebroadcast all the free-to-air HD multi-channels, for example Ten HD. However, it might be stopped when they try to broadcast Seven’s feed; as both haven’t made a deal.

It is also understood with The Australian that both Nine and Ten are trying to use Foxtel’s interactive features, with Nine making the first episode of Underbelly on Foxtel’s On Demand service.

The new HD channels include sports and documentaries. Channels at launch have been revealed as National Geographic HD, Discovery HD, ESPN HD and Fox Sports HD. A surprise announcement was the launch of BBC HD. It is unknown if National Geographic and Discovery will have their HD channel based in Australia. ESPN is most likely to be a direct simulcast over the US version.

BBC HD, however, could be a direct simulcast from the UK or Australia’s first new BBC channel other than BBC World. BBC Worldwide currently owns 20% of another cable channel, UK.TV. However, if BBC HD will be a direct simulcast; BBC Worldwide nor Foxtel cannot any advertising due to its schedule having no ‘ad breaks’. Most likely it will be a brand new channel.