A group of companies backing the HD DVD high-definition optical disc standard is planning to step up promotional activities in the US and Canada, it said on Tuesday.

Toshiba, Intel, Microsoft, HP, Paramount Home Entertainment, Warner Home Video, and Universal Studios Home Entertainment have established a new company to raise awareness of HD DVD. The format is one of two new optical disc systems battling to become the de facto replacement for DVDs for high-definition content.

North American HD DVD Promotional Group Inc and its member companies are planning a $150 million advertising campaign spanning the year-end holiday period and into 2007. The campaign will cover print, online, television and outdoor media and will push both the format's hardware and movie titles due out over the coming months.

Toshiba began selling two HD DVD players in North America in April, beating rival Blu-ray Disc to market by about two months. Speaking in late May a Toshiba executive said sales in North America were above 20,000. The first Blu-ray Disc player to go on sale was Samsung's BD-P1000, which hit stores in mid-June.