17,000 Sky homes may miss out on HDTV for World Cup

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The Independent Online

Up to 17,000 households that have pre-ordered high definition (HD) television packages from BSkyB, have been told they may not receive them in time for the start of the football World Cup, after the company's supplier failed to deliver enough set-top boxes to meet demand.

Sky launches its new HD service today, amid much publicity, boasting that it had received some 40,000 orders for the new technology since it opened its doors to pre-bookings last month.

However, Thomson, a French electronics company listed on the Paris market, which won the contract to supply Sky with its set-top boxes, failed to meet its deadline for delivering the new technology.

Sky said yesterday that the majority of customers would still get their technology on the date they had expected.

However, it added that 17,000 homes would have their date delayed by up to two and a half weeks.

The launch date of the technology was deliberately set ahead of the start of the World Cup on 9 June.

However, many will now not receive their boxes until after the start of the tournament, by which time their team may have been knocked out.

Sky said it installed some 2,500 sets yesterday - equivalent to one every 12 seconds. But a spokesman conceded this would slow down over the coming days. "We ordered more than enough boxes to meet demand and we're ready to install them but they're not arriving from our supplier as fast as we agreed," the company said in a statement.

"We think the fairest approach is to keep installations in the original order. Although this means that any delay to the first installations may have a knock-on effect on others, we believe it is important that those who requested Sky HD first will still be amongst the first to receive it."

The group added that it believed HD would be around for the long term, saying it expected demand to continue to increase rapidly in the build up to Christmas.