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Sky's HDTV service to contain ad-skipping technology adding to industry's lost £30m in revenues

LONDON - BSkyB's new high-definition TV service will feature ad-skipping technology similar to its existing Sky+ boxes.

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Richard Freudenstein, chief operating officer at Sky, announced the plans to incorporate personal video recording technology at the DVB World Conference in Dublin.

"Offering PVR capability as a standard in the HDTV arena will ensure that they [customers] can continue to enjoy these benefits in association with our highest quality programming," he said.

Sky is to launch the HDTV set-top boxes in 2006, offering viewers a better picture quality than existing services. The boxes will be made by French electronics manufacturer Thomson.

The as-yet-to-be announced HDTV premium package will offer a combination of sports, movies, entertainment and documentary programming. Prices have yet to be confirmed.

The HDTV launch is designed to help Sky achieve its target of 10m customers by 2010.

According to a report earlier this year from audience connection company The Big Picture, PVRs are costing the UK ad industry over £30m a year. This figure is set to rise as the technology becomes more widely available.

Telewest is launching its own PVR system to take on Sky+ from the second half of this year. Sky+ already has 600,000 subscribers.

Although the HDTV box can be connected to any kind of TV set, customers will need to buy an "HD Ready" set with a flat screen display of more than 26 inches to fully enjoy the picture quality.

Sky predicts that sales of "HD Ready" TV sets will accelerate as equipment prices continue to fall and the availability of HDTV programming grows.

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