ITV1 HD channel to launch on 2 April

LONDON - ITV will launch its first high definition channel, ITV1 HD, on 2 April across all major distribution platforms ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

Britain's Got Talent: show will air on ITV HD
Britain's Got Talent: show will air on ITV HD

ITV1 HD will simulcast the ITV1 schedule on Virgin Media, Sky, Freeview and Freesat from the start of next month, showing sports coverage, dramas and factual programming in high definition.

The majority of peak time content will be available in "native" HD, including all live football and an increasing amount of drama and factual programming. Other content, such as GMTV and the daytime schedule, will be "upscaled" to give a clearer picture.

Peter Fincham, ITV director of television, channels and online, said: "The availability of High Definition content is something viewers have come to expect as standard and, as we approach the 2010 World Cup, I'm delighted that we are able to launch our new channel, ITV1 HD.

"All of our output will benefit from the stunning picture quality that High Definition offers, whether it's ITV's original drama, landmark factual shows, entertainment events or our live football."

The launch of ITV HD means all of the 2010 World Cup will be available in HD on either ITV1 HD or the BBC's HD channel.

Programmes which will air on the channel include 'Father & Son', 'Identity', 'The Prisoner', 'Foyles War', Lewis', 'Joanna Lumley's Nile', 'Greatest Cities of the World with Griff Rhys Jones', 'Survival with Ray Mears' and 'Britain's Got Talent'.

The addition of ITV1 HD and the forthcoming launch of the Hallmark Channel HD (28 June) and Sky Sports 4 HD (29 April) means Sky will soon offer 40 high definition channels.

Sky News HD is to launch in the coming months and Sky plans to reach 50 HD channels by the end of the year.

Virgin Media's HD line-up includes the BBC and Channel 4's HD channels, ESPN, FX, MTV Networks, National Geographic and Living. Eurosport, Discovery, E4 and Film4 HD will be added this spring.

Some of ITV1's HD content will also be available on demand via ITV Net Player on Virgin Media's TV platform.