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HDTV market to boom, study says

But growth may be stunted by scanty content, market researcher In-Stat says.

As many as 10 million homes worldwide currently have high-definition TV sets, and that number will grow more than 50 percent to reach 15.5 million by the end of the year, according to a new study.

The study released Monday by market researcher In-Stat showed that the boom will continue in coming years and that by 2009, the total number of households that watch TV programs from an HDTV set will soar to 52 million.

But several stumbling blocks could slow the spread, including the need for more content and public confusion about the technology, In-Stat analyst Mike Paxton said in a statement. The lack of adequate HDTV content has disappointed many consumers, even prompting some to go so far as to return the TV sets.

The In-Stat study also noted that the United States is one of the fastest-growing HDTV markets; the number of households with high-definition TV sets in the country went up 150 percent to 4 million in just one year. Other major markets are Australia, Japan, South Korea and Canada.

According to the researcher, nearly 45 percent of HDTV households receive their service from a satellite TV service provider, with terrestrial broadcasters and cable TV operators accounting for the rest of the market share.