The agreement with satellite operator SES covers the distribution of ZDF, ZDFinfo and ZDFneo in SD-MPEG-2 format. The duration of the contract has not been specified. An SES spokeswoman declined to comment on details when approached by Broadband TV News.
A ZDF spokesperson indicated that there was no fixed end date for the SD distribution: “A decision for a date for termination is currently not on the agenda.” Also, no decision has been made yet on how to proceed with the SD distribution of joint public channels KI.KA, Phoenix and 3sat, according to ZDF.
The extension of the SD distribution is surprising because fellow public broadcaster ARD and ARD’s regional affiliates recently announced the termination of the SD distribution of their channels on Astra in January 2021 in favour of an HD-only distribution.
“ZDF reaches the whole population and all age groups with its channel family. But only if it broadcasts in all transmission standards. After all, a total of 6 million viewers in Germany still receive their programmes exclusively via SD signals,” said Christoph Mühleib, managing director of Astra Deutschland. The figure refers to the SD households across all TV reception infrastructures. Among satellite households, there are just 2.63 million SD households.
ZDF production director Dr Michael Rombach added: “For ZDF, the reception of its channels in as many households as possible is of strategic importance. The extension of satellite distribution in SD quality will continue to enable many viewers who have not yet switched to HD reception to access our public service programme offer.”
However, licence fee commission KEF has turned off the money tap for SD satellite distribution for ARD and ZDF. ZDF must therefore finance the costs for the extended SD distribution by using funds from other budgets.