To keep Europe in the high-definition-TV race, the European Commission may kick in $600 million in subsidies over five years. The payments would compensate broadcasters for beaming programs using HDTV as well as traditional signals. On June 26, the EC decided that all new broadcasts must be HDTV. The aim is to assure a market for products of electronics giants Philips and Thomson.

The compromise settles a dispute that lined up the governments of France and Germany, which back the HDTV makers, against Britain and other countries. The latter support broadcasters of traditional signals such as Rupert Murdoch's British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. Consumers will pay heavily, too. All large new TV sets will have to include expensive HDTV decoders, whether or not customers want to receive the programs.