The free-TV channels of German commercial broadcaster Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland will continue to be available in SD quality unencrypted via Astra (19.2° East) until at least 2024.
The corresponding partnership with satellite operator SES has been extended. The new distribution agreement covers the unencrypted transmission of the channels RTL, VOX, n-tv, Nitro, RTLplus, Super RTL, Toggo plus and RTLzwei as well as the regional window programmes in SD resolution until 2024. The new channel VOXup, which started in SD on December 1, 2019, is also part of the contract. All SD channels are offered in MPEG-2 standard.
“Thanks to the new agreement, we are securing the high reach of this distribution method and can continue to offer our viewers the free-to-air channel portfolio in SD quality via satellite,” said Andre Prahl, head of channel distribution at Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. Christoph Mühleib, managing director of Astra Deutschland, added: “This agreement underlines once more that SD will remain an important distribution standard for the foreseeable future.”
The two large German commercial broadcast groups RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 have committed themselves to the Federal Cartel Office anyway to broadcast their free-TV channels unencrypted in SD resolution until the end of 2022. The agreement between RTL and SES thus even goes beyond this period. The HD versions of the channels are encrypted and can be subscribed to via DTH satellite platforms HD+ and Freenet.
In contrast, German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF are considering dropping the SD distribution of their channels on Astra as early as this year, driven by demands from licence fee commission KEF, which sees this as a way to save costs. The public broadcasters benefit from the fact that their HD channels are unencrypted, which means that their reach is significantly higher than the encrypted commercial HD channels.