IFA 2009 – Berlin. Ferdinand Kayser, the president and CEO of SES-Astra, has given details of the new HD+ platform during a keynote at the consumer electronics show in Berlin. Rebuffing criticism to the plan for the encrypted HD service, he said existing HD receivers with CI slots will be able to receive the new platform.
“There was no need to spread panic.” The HD+ platform will launch on November 1 with two channels from the RTL Group, RTL and Vox. Early next year, the ProSiebenSat.1 group will follow with three channels – ProSieben, Sat.1 and Kabel eins.
Six manufacturers have announced they will deliver receivers. All new ones will come with a prepaid card for 12 months of viewing, after which a fee will be payable for access to the “technical infrastructure”. Kayser said this is not pay-TV.
HD+ will also be available on television sets with integrated satellite tuners and CI Plus, as well as set-top bxes ready for CI Plus. “The HD+ logo on new receivers that come onto the market in autumn will show to consumers: with this device, you are able to receive all HD free-TV content including the encrypted HD+ content. Purchasing an HD+ receiver will include an HD+ smart card allowing the reception of HD+ free of charge during the first 12 months. [—] The German consumer protection was very worried and warned that existing HD receivers would not receive HD+. Their warning was baseless, their panic unnecessary. We developed a solution for existing HD receivers which are not yet HD+ receivers and which can be upgraded for HD+. This is possible by the means of a special CI module which can be introduced in the Common Interface slot of existing HD receivers.
Kayser also answered critics, who claim HD+ is pay TV. “HD+ is free-TV. It is very amazing to see the confusion that some people create in the industry and public around the concepts of pay-TV and free-TV. Free-TV is financed by advertising or public fees, pay-TV by subscriptions. The fact that a free-TV channel, financed by advertising or public fees, is encrypted, does not mean that is becomes a pay-TV channel. Cable TV, for example, is also not pay-TV just because the access to the cable costs money. The same applies to public TV for which you have to pay a fee. And the same principle applies to HD+: the annual cost that we are planning is a service fee, a yearly one-off which is related to the reception of the offer and not to specific content, parts or packages of the offer.”
Meanwhile, Nagravision has officially announced it will be the CA system for the HD + platform, as reported many months ago by Broadband TV News.