Sony and satellite TV operator British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) are today set to announce a marketing tie-up through which the two companies will jointly promote HDTV (high definition TV) in the UK.

BSkyB, which has eight million customers in the U.K., is planning to launch an HDTV service in 2006 comprised of high-definition channels and special events coverage. The joint marketing effort will see Sony televisions promoted to customers of BSkyB's forthcoming service, said Sony in Tokyo.

European broadcasters have been late in offering HDTV channels. Despite the widespread availability of digital television, viewers in most European countries have no access to high-definition programming. This has made it difficult for TV set makers to convince large numbers of consumers to pay the premium prices that HD sets command.

In contrast set makers are selling millions of HD televisions in Japan and the US, where high-definition broadcasting has already been launched.

However with the World Cup soccer championship in Germany only six months away TV set makers and European broadcasters are keen to begin services. The World Cup typically boosts sales of expensive television sets.

Earlier this year BSkyB announced a deal with Thomson SA to produce a set-top box for the HDTV service.