Luxe.TV criticises German HDTV fee plans
Jörn Krieger

Thematic channel Luxe.TV has criticised the plans by Germany’s largest commercial TV groups RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 to charge viewers a fee for receiving the HDTV variations of their free-to-air channels.

“Luxe.TV has offered its HDTV channel for three years in Germany and is astonished that the general interest channels are now demanding money to cover their additional expenses for production and distribution,” Freddy Thyes, member of the board of directors and strategy adviser for Luxe.TV, told German magazine Digital Fernsehen.

RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 plan to distribute their HDTV services on the platform HD+ operated by SES Astra, reception of which will cost €50 per year. Thyes called on SES Astra and the two broadcasting groups to support HDTV thematic channels in the interest of viewers, who he says should be offered the largest possible selection of HDTV channels.

According to Thyes, as it is currently planned, HD+ will solely consist of HDTV variations of channels which are free-to-air in standard definition, without additional content or further incentives. Thyes believes the platform will have only limited impact on the German television market if it is restricted to HDTV versions of existing general interest channels. “We could only afford HD+ if SES Astra makes the satellite capacity available to us in another economic model adjusted to the needs of thematic channels.”

Thyes says it is understandable that RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 plan to impose restrictions on usage of their HDTV programme content. “It is absolutely normal that commercial broadcasters protect their signals and don’t allow certain possibilities, for example commercials to be skipped. Commercial broadcasters live from advertising customers – transmission without signal protection would seriously damage their channels.”

Thyes confirmed Luxe.TV’s interest in distributing its HDTV service within the planned HDTV package of Eutelsat’s direct-to-cable platform KabelKiosk. “Luxe.TV is already present in standard definition on KabelKiosk and is delighted with its success. We have registered our interest at KabelKiosk and would like to be part of its HDTV package.”