Dutch DTH platform adds HD channels

The M7 Group has leased two additional transponders on Astra 23.5 degrees East. The newly contracted capacity will be used for the further extension of the HD line-up of CanalDigitaal, M7 Group’s DTH platform for the Dutch market.

The new agreements bring the number of total transponders contracted by M7 Group at this orbital position to four. The Luxembourg-based M7 Group provides DTH services in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg using the brand names CanalDigitaal, TV Vlaanderen and TéléSat.

Following the agreement, CanalDigitaal will launch a broad range of new HD channels from mid-February onwards, including HD channels from the Dutch public broadcaster NPO, and commercial broadcasters RTL and SBS. As a result, the CanalDigitaal HD channel line-up for the Dutch market will more than double over the next three months.

In addition to the four transponders now contracted by M7 Group at 23.5 degrees, M7 Group currently also operates four transponders at the Astra 19.2 degrees East position. By using an Astra Duo LNB, Dutch DTH homes are capable of receiving programmes from both orbital positions via a single fixed dish.

Alexander Oudendijk, chief commercial officer SES Astra, commented in a statement: “We are very pleased with this new agreement as it further strengthens our solid and long-standing relationship with the M7 Group. The agreement confirms the rapid success and key importance of Astra 23.5 degrees East as a fast-growing HDTV hotspot for the Benelux. It also demonstrates that in markets dominated by land-based infrastructures, satellite DTH plays a key role for the development of the HDTV market. With the launch of additional HD channels at 23.5 degrees East, Astra becomes the largest HD platform in The Netherlands with a line-up of over 20 HDTV channels, including all major public and commercial channels.”

Andrei Noppe, executive VP of M7 Group, said: “In 2010, more than 80% of Dutch TV homes will be equipped with a TV set suitable for HDTV. That fact, combined with the World Championship Soccer tournament coming soon, should result in a further take-up of HD over the coming months. This agreement with SES Astra allows us to meet this demand with an attractive and wide range of HD services. Coupled with the fast growing free-to-air offer on Astra, we believe that satellite DTH is the most attractive infrastructure to capture the HDTV needs in the Dutch market.”