One week after France’s national public broadcaster initiated delivery via the W2A satellite of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) channels to terrestrial towers in Reunion Island and Mayotte, France Télévisions and Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) announce that a second satellite signal has been opened to enable commercial operators in the region to integrate digital public channels into their platforms.

Using capacity on Eutelsat’s W2A satellite to deliver channels to terrestrial towers, the launch of DTT on December 1 enables the population of both Indian Ocean islands to access an offer of 10 free-to-air digital channels, compared to the previous offer of one over-the-air analogue channel, Tempo.

France Télévisions is now taking digital broadcasting a further step forward with the launch of a second satellite signal, operated at Eutelsat’s 16° East position, which already serves all commercial operators in francophone Indian Ocean islands. This new signal enables France Télévisions to meet its obligations to complement terrestrial broadcasting with Direct-to-Home satellite reception and also to ensure the availability of public channels to commercial platforms.

Nine public service channels (France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5, France Ô, Arte, France 24, Reunion 1ère and Mayotte 1ère) are uplinked by France Télévisions direct to Eutelsat capacity from metropolitan France. TDF, that operates the terrestrial broadcast network in Reunion Island and Mayotte, subsequently adds on site the signals of the two local commercial channels, Antenne Reunion and Télé Kréol.

The contract concluded between Eutelsat and France Télévisions represents the equivalent of a full transponder, which is currently operated on W2A at 10° East for technical services to terrestrial towers, and on W2M at 16° East for Direct-to-Home satellite reception by homes beyond range of terrestrial reception and for channel availability to commercial operators. Following the scheduled arrival in mid-2011 of Eutelsat’s W3C satellite at 16° East, France Télévisions will concentrate all digital services for francophone Indian Ocean islands at a single neighbourhood.

Christian Augereau, Operations Director for overseas territories at France Télévisions commented on the agreement: “The selection of Eutelsat enables France Télévisions to significantly expand an offer of free-to-air public channels for viewers in Reunion Island and Mayotte and further consolidates a longstanding partnership between our two companies. With satellite delivery of channels to terrestrial towers, direct to homes beyond terrestrial reception and to commercial platforms, the entire population of both islands can immediately benefit from digital public broadcasting services. DTT also represents an opportunity for local channels in Reunion Island and Mayotte to transition into a digital environment at the same pace as national channels.”

Andrew Wallace, Eutelsat’s Chief Commercial Officer added: “The launch in digital of nine public channels for Reunion Island and Mayotte, in comparison to one analogue channel, represents a transformation of the television landscape. We are delighted to be playing our role in this step forward, and also to ensure availability of public channels for the commercial platforms serving both islands that broadcast without exception from our video neighbourhood at 16° East.”