French switch off analogue satellite DTH
17.34 Europe/London, September 25, 2011 By Robert Briel

The six analogue television channels that are broadcasting from the Eutelsat Atlantic Bird 3 (AB3) satellite will terminate analogue transmissions on November 29. On that date, all terrestrial analogue broadcasts in the country will also be switched off.

At the moment the six ‘historical channels’, TF1, France 2, France 3, Canal+, France5/Arte and M6, are still available in analogue from the satellite, where they broadcast free-to-air.

Although the analogue satellite broadcasts are meant as a feed to terrestrial transmitters, an unknown number of French viewers (and probably some outside the country as well) are dependent on this kind of reception.

People with weak terrestrial coverage, and viewers who do not have access to all these six analogue channels, installed a satellite dish. These people will now lose their signal and have to switch to digital reception. A special ticker tape message will run across the screen from September 27 warning viewers about the coming switch off.

Satellite viewers have to switch to one of the two DTH services available in France, Fransat on the Eutelsat AB3 satellite or TNTSat on Astra.

People who chose Fransat need to buy a dedicated Fransat receiver and an activated smart card. Apart from a one-time fee for the receiver and the card there is no subscription fee. People opting for TNTSat will also need a smart card and a special receiver, or a Canal Ready set-top box.

TNTSat recently announced that it was received in 3 million homes at the end of last month. Last January, Eutelsat’s Fransat subsidiary announced that over 800,000 set-top-boxes have been shipped to receive digital terrestrial TV (DTT) channels by satellite via the Fransat platform by December 2010.

Fransat offers all 19 free-to-air terrestrial channels plus the four HD channels (TF1 HD, France 2 HD, Arte HD, M6 HD), the 24 France 3 regional channels, a number of local channels (TV Mont Blanc 8, ETB, Demain, NRJ Paris Sat, Normandie TV, Tele Grenoble, Mirabelle TV, Vosges Television and TLP), as well as TV5 Monde, BFM Business and KTO.

TNTSat, part of the Canal offer, also offers the 19 DTT channels, four HD channels and the 24 regional France 3 channels plus the local channel TV Mont Blanc 8) and a number of FTA channels on Astra, including TV5 Monde, TV5 Europe, Liberty TV, Montagne TV, KTO, France 24, Euronews, Best of Shopping, M6 Boutique and Cash TV.

All FTA channels on Astra at 19 degrees East can also be received. In addition, people can subscribe to the bouquets offered by Canal+ and CanalSat.