MediaCorp. to launch high-def b'cast channel

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SINGAPORE -- Singapore's monopoly broadcaster, MediaCorp, on Friday said it plans to become Southeast Asia's first free-to-air high-definition television broadcaster via its third-quarter rollout of English-language terrestrial channel HD5.

No programming details for the new commercial channel have been confirmed, a MediaCorp. spokesman said.

About 500,000 Singaporean homes, or half of the tiny island state's households, have HD television sets, consumer electronics research company GFK says. MediaCorp. said it plans to broadcast all its channels in HD by 2012.

The broadcaster operates four commercial channels, including dedicated news service Channel NewsAsia and two public service channels.

MediaCorp. and Singapore's cable platform, StarHub, were part of Southeast Asia's first HDTV trials, which launched in June 2006 with the FIFA World Cup and ran until the end of the year.

The trial channel mixed true HD content, such as "CSI" and local HD productions, with programming converted to high definition from standard definition.

MediaCorp. on Friday said that trial results indicate that about 50% of homes are able to receive HD signals.

StarHub followed last year's trial with the launch of two commercial HD channels in January. The two channels -- Southeast Asia's first high-def pay TV channels -- are Discovery HD and National Geographic HD.
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