French-speaking Belgium is to receive its own DTH satellite package from March with the launch of a trial service named TéléSAT. The March tests will be followed by a full launch a few months later. The Astra-delivered package, a sister service to Providence Equity’s TV Vlaanderen, will broadcast from the 19 degrees East slot using the MPEG-4 compression system and include a number of HD channels. It is anticipated that the first hardware will appear in the shops next month.
The launch comes two years after the launch of TV Vlaanderen, serving the Flemish-speaking part of the country, and which has attracted 50,000 subscribers in this densely cabled country.
The project is being headed by industry veteran Kurt Pauwels, a former head of Canal+ in the region, who has also worked for MultiChoice and Discovery Channel in the Benelux. “Every little town in the French region has a satellite store and they can’t sell anything legally, so this is the first opportunity to eliminate the grey market and that will help the market in general.” Pauwels told Broadband TV News that he anticipated the larger electrical stores and supermarkets would stock satellite equipment for the first time.