Happy days, news lovers: from spring 2010 you'll be able to watch every disaster, crime spree and corrupt politician in fabulous high definition when Sky launches Sky News HD. Hopefully there will be Dolby Digital surround sound too, so we can hear the boos from backbenchers in Parliament as if we were Gordon Brown himself.
Sky News has a respectable history when it comes to doing things first. The channel launched in 1989 when there weren't many other sources of breaking news for British insomniacs to choose from. It was certainly the first UK-based, 24-hour news channel, with our only other source of rolling happenings coming from CNN international.
As with any perfectly legitimate launch, there's the usual bluster of nonsense. In this case, Sky is claiming that the "HD graphics [will be] capable of delivering a 3D look on-air". Well, we look forward to a 3D look in a 2D medium, chaps -- perhaps next you could bring us the odour of the Iraq war?
There's a significant level of investment needed to launch any HD channel, and news is even more complicated and costly. The studio equipment will all need to be updated, sets re-built and industrial-strength make-up trowelled on to the older members of the presenting team.
Sky says some of its global newsrooms will be upgraded to HD too. Clearly the channel won't be entirely HD from the outset, but the same problems have beset widescreen news coverage and we've struggled through, somehow. Its US sister channel, Fox News, as you might expect, already broadcasts in HD, which should help Sky find high-quality footage.
We're are hoping Sky will consider launching HD streaming via its news Web site too. We throughly enjoyed its hi-def coverage of-- the quality was pretty spectacular.
We can't see any other broadcasters moving over to HD news production any time soon, especially not the BBC. The best we can hope from anyone else is the 10 O'Clock news in HD, but even that's probably years away.
Sky News HD will be available to customers of the Sky+HD service, but there's no word on whether it will be available on