France Télévisions signs contract to broadcast all France 3 regional channels on satellite

France Télévisions has signed a long-term contract with Eutelsat Communications to broadcast the regional channels produced by France 3 on the Atlantic Bird™ 3 satellite located at 5 degrees West. From 28 October, all homes in France equipped with a dish to receive Atlantic Bird™ 3 and a subscription-free Fransat decoder will have access to digital reception of all 24 of France 3’s regional channels.

This new initiative, which enables viewers to access the regional window of their choice, forms part of the progressive digitisation of France’s broadcasting network. It will benefit viewers beyond range of terrestrial reception after analogue switch-off, as well as homes already equipped for Direct-to-Home analogue TV reception from Atlantic Bird™ 3 and who will simply need to change their decoder to switch to digital.

The 24 regional channels produced by France 3 will join the 18 national channels in Standard Digital and the four channels in HD that are already available on a subscription-free basis via Fransat. Launched by Eutelsat in June, Fransat complements coverage of France’s DTT channels and aims in particular to serve homes already equipped with a dish pointing to Atlantic Bird™ 3 at 5degrees West. This orbital position occupied by Eutelsat has been used for more than 20 years to deliver France’s national channels in analogue to terrestrial transmitters and to complement the terrestrial network for homes in “shadow” areas.

Availability in digital quality of all 24 regional channels produced by France 3 adds new impetus for French homes to switch to digital. For all homes equipped for DTH reception from Atlantic Bird™ 3, the switch involves a simple change of decoder with no change required to outdoor equipment. For France 3 this additional broadcasting platform represents a new step, which further broadens its reach by enabling viewers to connect with a region even when if they are beyond range of terrestrial reception, and by expanding the overall range of regional programmes available to viewers across France.

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This is a ‘new step’ for France, but in some other European countries regional programmes are already available by satellite. The next step, for all countries, should be to make these public services available across the whole of the EU, to comply with the European Commission’s ‘open skies’ policy. It’s ridiculous that publicly-funded services are restricted by encryption and/or narrow beams in order to comply with out-of-date copyright procedures that were put in place before DTH satellite broadcasting became commonplace. Of course, commercial operators of pay TV services should continue to encrypt, but they should be allowed to sell their services to expats in all countries.