Astra has underlined its credentials in the Central and East European markets as an announcement on TVP’s plans for a Polish Freesat come closer to fruition.At a press briefing in Amsterdam, SES-Astra chief commercial officer Alexander Oudendijk said household reach in the Czech and Slovak Republics alone had increased by almost 50% in the last 12 months. Including Benelux, the 23.5 degrees East position now reaches 1.05 million homes by satellite and a further 1.8 million by cable.
Oudendijk said its leadership in the Czech Republic put the operator in a strong position. “We have a digital reach of over 50% so any channel that launches has to come to 23.5 in order to be seen by the market.”
Although 23.5 degrees East is Astra’s centre of attention, the original 19.2 degrees East slot remains of interest, indeed 80% of 23.5 degrees East customers have duo LNBs capable of receiving both positions.
In the Polish market another type of duo LNB is popular, enabling reception of both 19 East and Eutelsat’s Hot Bird neighbourhood at 13 degrees East. Poland’s pay-TV platforms have historically used 13 East, but the public broadcaster’s plans for a free-to-air platform remain balanced between Eutelsat and Astra, where it already holds two transponders.
“The platform is very much a distribution concept, all the channels are with Astra,” explained Leszek Bujak, senior business development manager, Astra Central Eastern Europe Sp. “Some of the channels are being provided to other platforms,” he said, adding that encryption was required on some of the channels by the rights holders.