The Belgian public service broadcaster RTBF is set to leave Astra for Hot Bird, according to the French industry newsletter TeleSatellite. Broadcasting since November 2001 on Astra at 19.2 degrees East, RTBF Sat and radio RTBF International are moving to the Eutelsat Hot Bird (13 degrees East).
RTBF has said that the move will extend to coverage of the free-to-air channel to all of Europe, the Mediterranean basin, the Maghreb, Asia Minor and Middle East all the way into Afghanistan. Viewers will have a few weeks to change their satellite dish, with Astra distribution ending on November 26.
From that date, RTBF Sat will broadcast in the widescreen format 16/9, and both the TV channel and radio station will continue to run without encryption.
The two main national RTBF television channels, la Une and la due, will be part of the encrypted Walloon TeleSat DTH service which is set to launch from Astra at 23.5 East before the end of the year.