SES Astra has announced that it has concluded a multi-transponder, multi-year agreement with the German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF to secure satellite capacity for the transmission of HD channels. The long-term agreement is for a total of five transponders on ASTRA’s prime orbital position 19.2 degrees East.
The capacity will be brought into use in two steps, starting with three transponders in May 2012, immediately after the termination of ARD/ZDF’s analogue transmissions, followed by two more transponders in January 2014. The formal approval of the agreement will follow the still outstanding endorsement by one of the regional broadcasters which is member of the ARD. The broadcasters will communicate further details of the switch and the programming line-up.
The public broadcasters already hinted that Phoenix, Bayerische Fernsehen, NDR, SWR and WDR are the first to launch HD simulcasts. The addition of more free-to-air channels via satellite will no doubt further push the German market for HD receivers. In 2010 the launch of the German public HD channels drove sales of HD flat screens and receivers.
Ferdinand Kayser, president and CEO of SES Astra, said in a statement: “The broad introduction of HD by the public broadcasters in Germany is an important driver of the digitalisation of satellite television reception. It enhances the increasingly important role of television as the leading entertainment and information medium and recognises satellite’s capabilities as the leading digital infrastructure for TV broadcasting. The introduction of further HD programmes is generating additional consumer demand for digital reception equipment and is stimulating the industry at all levels.”