By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Foxtel will launch the HD+ service with four full-time high definition channels in the middle of 2008 in what the pay TV operator is calling Australia’s “most comprehensive” HD offering.

Foxtel chief executive and managing director, Kim Williams, today said Foxtel HD+ will include TV shows, documentaries, movies, sport will be broadcast in 1080i and 720p high definition.

Foxtel subscribers wanting to move to high definition will be charged an additional fee and will need to upgrade to the company’s new iQ2 personal video recorder box announced today.

“Foxtel HD+ will provide consumers with a complete, innovative solution with the best pictures and sound that is very simple to use,” said Williams at the Sydney media launch today.

The new channels will include BBC HD, Discovery HD, National Geographic HD, Fox Sports HD, ESPN HD and a new version of the Box Office pay-per-view movie service allowing instant access to HD films, Box Office HD.

Foxtel will be the first broadcaster to use MPEG4 HD video encoding but picture quality and resolution will depend on the original content provided by channels.

The number of channels will be expanded next year when Foxtel gains access to another satellite which will deliver a boost to its bandwidth.

Foxtel also today revealed plans for broadcasting the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games with eight multi-channels.