SES Astra has announced that it has signed a long-term agreement with M7 Group for an additional transponder on Astra at 23.5 degrees East. The capacity will be used for the continued transmission of Dutch regional broadcasters as well as for additional HD services.
The Luxembourg-based M7 Group provides DTH to more than one million homes in The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria using the brand names CanalDigitaal, TV Vlaanderen, TéléSat and AustriaSat.
This agreement represents what is already the fifth Astra 23.5 East transponder that M7 Group contracted since the introduction of Astra 23.5 East in 2007 as a new DTH hot spot for the Benelux market. In addition, M7 Group operates four transponders at Astra at 19.2 degrees East.
Thanks to the successful introduction in 2007 of the Duo LNB for the simultaneous reception of Astra 19.2 East and 23.5 East, the vast majority of DTH homes in the Benelux countries are capable of receiving programmes via both positions. The launch by M7 Group of an extensive line-up of over 25 HD channels for the Dutch and Flemish markets in 2007 was another important stimulus for the rapid 23.5 East development in the Benelux market.
In a related development, two Dutch regional public broadcasters have decided to terminate their satellite distribution in order to save costs. RTV Rijnmond and RTV Noord-Holland will leave Astra shortly. Two other regional broadcasters, RTV Drenthe and Omroep Zeeland, have decided to switch from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 compression; L1 Limburg and Omroep Brabant will switch from free-to-air to an encrypted signal. RTV Noord, Omrop Fryslân, RTV Oost and Omroep Gelderland will continue to broadcast FTA in MPEG-2.