Virgin Media, the UK's leading digital entertainment company, has signed an agreement with Universal Networks International to make the SCI FI channel available to its digital TV customers in High Definition.

Launching on Virgin TV in advance of its anticipated rebrand to Syfy HD on 13 th April, the channel will show some of the best imagination-based entertainment every day, including the forthcoming, much-talked-about UK premiere of V, a re-imagining of the 1983 ground-breaking invasion mini-series.

In addition, the high-octane, action-packed drama Human Target will also make its UK television debut in April, taking its place alongside SCI FI favourites Legend Of The Seeker, Sanctuary and the classic Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

This is Virgin Media’s sixth new HD channel announced this year with more to come. Virgin Media’s growing HD line-up already covers a wide variety of entertainment, including films, documentaries, sport, drama and music, with channels from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 available to all Virgin TV customers, as well as ESPN, FX, MTV Networks, National Geographic, LIVING (a Virgin Media exclusive) and the forthcoming Eurosport, Discovery, E4 and Film4 (another Virgin Media exclusive) HD channels all available for no additional monthly fee to ‘XL’ TV customers.

Virgin Media and Universal Networks International will also look to make HD content available on demand where possible, with selected programmes ready to watch at the touch of a button. Virgin Media already carries hundreds of hours of HD programmes on demand, including popular films, as well as BBC iPlayer HD and full television series via the vast TV Choice on Demand archive.

Virgin Media’s executive director of digital entertainment, Cindy Rose, said: “The SCI FI channel is synonymous with the science fiction genre and premieres many high-profile, first-run series. We are excited to be bringing the channel’s programmes to our customers in spectacular HD ahead of its rebrand as I know they will be introducing yet more fantastic shows in the coming months. We are continuing to add more HD channels to our growing line-up, all of which are all available to our XL TV customers for no extra monthly fee.”

Laurence Dawkin-Jones, MD (UK) Universal Networks International, said: “Our SCI FI channel audience tend to be early adopters so they will love the opportunity to watch some of their favourite shows in fantastic High Definition. The picture quality will really make the most of our new look channel and the fantastic raft of UK premiere shows we’ve got coming up.”

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Notes to editors

Unlike other providers, Virgin Media does not charge for HD channels, with all XL TV customers able to receive HD versions of their favourite channels at no extra cost. A V+ HD digital video recorder is required to decode HD channels, as well as an HDMI connecting lead and an HD-ready TV.

About Virgin Media

With almost 10 million customers, Virgin Media is the UK's first quad-play provider of broadband, TV, phone and mobile.

The company is one of the largest residential broadband providers in the UK, using a unique fibre optic cable network to deliver next generation ultrafast internet access of up to 50Mb to just over half of all homes. Combined with a high speed ADSL service and mobile broadband products, Virgin Media is able to offer broadband internet access to virtually the entire country.

Virgin Media has the UK’s most advanced TV on demand service and was the first TV platform to carry BBC iPlayer. It is the second largest provider of pay TV, was the first to launch a high definition TV service and offers a high-specification, HD-ready V+ personal video recorder.

The company operates the most popular virtual mobile network in the UK which, when launched, was the world’s first such mobile phone service. It is also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the country.

Virgin Media also owns Virgin Media Television (VMtv) which runs seven entertainment channels, including Virgin1, LIVING, Bravo and Challenge. VMtv is a 50 per cent joint partner with BBC Worldwide in UKTV, which consists of ten channels including Dave, G.O.L.D., Watch and Alibi.

Virgin Media Inc. is listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market and the London Stock Exchange (VMED).

About SCI FI

Reaching approximately 3 million people each week, SCI FI brings viewers the best content from the worlds of science fiction and fantasy, spanning supernatural, fringe science and apocalypse. SCI FI is a channel service of Universal Networks International - a division of NBC Universal - and features a continuous stream of exclusive series premieres, cinematic hits and special events.

Copyright Business Wire 2010