US media and entertainment group Discovery Communications has unveiled a new 24-hour high-definition television channel.

Five years in the making, Discovery HD Theater hits the airwaves on June 17, available to viewers with digital TV sets or special tuners. It will broadcast 115 programs, drawn from Discovery’s travel, education, science, nature and kids output.

The new channel had been slated for a September launch, but after prompting from Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell – who is eager to accelerate the growth of America’s dTV sector – the roll-out was brought forward three months.

Discovery chairman/ceo John S Hendricks estimates that the number of US homes able to receive high-definition broadcasts will rise from the current 1.1 million to 7m in four years, at which time the channel is forecast to break even.

Hendricks added that, due to limited capacity, satellite and cable operators can currently carry only six or seven high-definition channels, prompting Discovery to launch its dTV offering early so as to head the line.

Data sourced from: The Washington Post Online; additional content by WARC staff