Astra and RAI launch HD demo channel

November 13, 2009

SES-Astra and the Italian public broadcaster RAI are launching an HD demo channel on the orbital position at 23.5 degrees East. SES ASTRA, an SES company (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG), today announced the availability of an HD demo channel in collaboration with RAI.

The channel is the first free-to-air (FTA) Italian HD demo channel developed by Astra, built to test the opportunities that HD can offer and it is addressed particularly to sector professionals and HD lovers. The channel will also serve as a showcase for the content of Yes Italia, a theme-based channel focused on tourism and Made in Italy, produced and distributed by NewCo Rai International.

This testing is part of a larger co-operation plan between the two companies to identify and develop new opportunities for satellite TV viewers.

Markus Fritz, MD Sky Italia, said in a statement: “The collaboration with RAI represents an important milestone in SES Astra’s strategy to position itself as an alternative partner for broadcasters in Italy. As the leading satellite operator in Europe and driver of digital and HD television, SES ASTRA is expanding into new markets and is fostering innovation in the field of HDTV, mobile and interactive services. And the RAI HD demo channel underlines our strong commitment on this way.”

The move of RAI and SES-Astra is interesting as the Eutelsat Hot Bird position is the key position for the Italian DTH market with the two major Italian platforms, Sky Italia and the free-to-view TivuSat.