12.00 Update: ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG will broadcast its three main channels, Sat.1, ProSieben and kabel eins, in HD versions as part of the new HD+ platform on Astra at 19.2 degrees East. The three channels from the German Free TV Group will join Vox and RTL from RTL Germany from January 2010.
The addition of the channels will bring the total number in the HD+ platform to five. The move also implies that a number of major German public and commercial channels will be available in HD from January 2010 onwards. At that time, pubcasters ARD and ZDF will also take up regular HD broadcasts of their main channels.
At the moment, Arte HD and Annixe HD are already available as free-to-air channels on the Astra satellite; Sky Deutschland also has seven HD channels on air. It is not clear if the Sky certified boxes will also be able to receive the HD+ platform channels, but Broadband TV News believes talks are ongoing to make the two platforms compatible.
Markus Payer, spokesperson for SES-Astra, told Broadband TV News: “We like to have our HD+ platform as open as possible for all parties; content owners and manufacturers. Content owners want to have as wide a reach as possible and manufacturers want to make attractive products and in the end it is the consumer who decides.”
“The fact that we are now able to offer our three channels via HD+ is a milestone in terms of our technology and quality offering for our viewers. The HD+ offer is coming at exactly the right time for us. Meanwhile there are more than 13 million HD-ready flat screen TVs in households, which means that viewers can enjoy our HD content in its entirety,” said Andreas Bartl, MD, German Free TV Group, ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG, in a statement.
“With the transmission of our programmes in HD quality we are pushing digitalisation in Germany. We will now focus on developing new content and offers for this new standard,” said Dr Marcus Englert, director new media & diversification of ProSiebenSat1 Media AG, also in a statement.
Receivers for the HD+ platform will be available this autumn, with manufacturers expected to show the first models at this year’s IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.
The HD+ platform will use the Nagravision CA system, and pre-paid smart cards will be made available with a 12 month credit. Cards can be updated using a variety of methods.