SES has signed a long-term agreement to broadcast BBC World News in HD from the Astra satellite neighbourhood at 19 degrees East.

The channel will commence broadcasts today on a multiplex operated and uplinked by SES from its headquarters in Betzdorf, Luxembourg.

“We know from our viewers that they value HD services. BBC World News originates in pure HD, so it’s fantastic to be able to bring this service to our European heartland,” said Colin Lawrence, Director of Distribution for BBC Global News Ltd. “Following the investments we made in our content and presentation on BBC World News, last year we saw an audience increase in daily reach. HD is undoubtedly becoming the default viewing preference, and this new partnership enables delivery of our world-class service to European audiences.”

BBC World News is already available in HD in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and North America, Canada and the United States.

“We are delighted that the BBC has chosen Astra 19.2E for the HD distribution of its premier international news channel,” added Ferdinand Kayser, chief commercial officer of SES. “The momentum for HD has been rapidly increasing as more people appreciate the level of detail that HD delivers. High Definition means clearer, crisper pictures that are more vivid in colour – they can be as much as five times more detailed than standard definition.”

A recent survey of European pay-TV subscribers revealed that having a high quality news channel as part of their package was valued by around three quarters of respondents, and a similar proportion of BBC World News viewers would consider changing their TV subscription if it was no longer available.