SES Astra confirmed the November 1 launch of its new high definition platform HD+ and said viewers will receive the first 12 months for free.

Everyone who buys an HD+ certified receiver will receive a smart card with 12 months of viewing. After the free period, consumers can extend the validity of the card for EUR 50 per year. This can be done via a dedicated web, in retail or using a special HD+ hotline. Viewers can also buy a new smart card.

Three manufacturers, Humax, Technisat and Technotrend, will have HD+ certified receivers in the shops before years end . SES Astra also said receivers which have CI Plus capability will be compatible with the platform. This includes TV sets with CI Plus slot from manufactures including Loewe, Metz, Samsung and Sony.

On November 1, RTL and Vox will start their HD broadcasts on the HD+ platform, to be following in January by Sat.1, ProSieben and kabel eins. SES-Astra emphasised reception of other HD channels including ARD, ZDF and Arte is also possible with the HD+ receivers without the need of an active smart card.