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FOM confirms HD coverage for 2011

Formula 1's move to true high definition television coverage in 2011 has been officially confirmed by the sport's broadcast chiefs, AUTOSPORT can reveal

Amid intense speculation over the last 24 hours about F1 television plans for this year, after Sky Germany announced that it was going to broadcast in HD, Formula One Management has now affirmed that all channels that have a deal to show the sport will be given an HD feed.

After detailed investigations over the winter into whether it can deliver a proper HD service, plus checks that new equipment that it has brought in will be ready on time, AUTOSPORT has learned that FOM informed broadcasters on Tuesday that it was going ahead with 'native' HD coverage.

FOM has invested in equipment that is good enough to ensure that it can download the data to broadcasters at a high quality rate of 42MB of data per second - and the broadcast will be in 1080i resolution.

All trackside cameras will be full HD, but due to the technical complexity of on-board cameras these will remain upscaled standard definition cameras for now.

Several broadcasters have already confirmed their plans to show true HD coverage in 2011 - including Sky Germany and Globo in Brazil - with other channels set to follow suit immediately.

AUTOSPORT understands the BBC is almost certain to show the high definition coverage on its HD channel, and then downscale the signal so it is suitable for its terrestrial channels.

The British broadcaster has so far not made public its broadcast plans for this year, however, but says announcements about what it intends to do will be made in the next few weeks.

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said last year that the move to HD coverage would only come when broadcasters felt the public were really ready to receive it, and that he could guarantee the quality would be good enough.

"We don't want to broadcast unless people want it," Ecclestone told AUTOSPORT at the Canadian Grand Prix. "I asked in England, the BBC, about it - how many people can receive it? They said about 20 per cent of the viewers who watch F1. Then I want to make sure that what we produce is top quality."

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