Astra wins Spanish DTT deal

SES Astra has won a contract to distribute Spanish DTT signals via satellite, right from under the nose of rival Hispasat.

Spain needs to reach a small percentage of its population via satellite who, for geographic reasons, will never be able to pick up the nation’s digital-terrestrial signals. Two years ago Spain's national public broadcaster RTVE declared its intention to uplink DTT channels on Eutelsat and Hispasat satellites in order to cover the two per cent of the population without DTT signals.

SES Astra has just signed an agreement with the regional government of the self-governing autonomous region of Cantabria to distribute all national, regional and local DTT channels in the clear from Astra's orbital position 19.2º East. Nearly 10% of Cantabria's population will never be able to access DTT signals, so satellite is the best solution to solve this problem according to SES's sources.

But there could be problems. One dilemma is that of programming rights, and where the digital channels don't have the rights to see transmissions beamed over the whole of Europe. Astra, from 19.2 deg East, covers the complete European continent.

The cost of the project is said to be about €4.5m annually, including the cost of a 4.8m dish to get the signal to the satellite. The project will consist of a decoder with a smart card in order to save broadcasting rights of the channels transmitting on the satellite so their content can only be watched in Spain. The equipment would cost nothing because it would be subsidised by the national government. This project is on a stand by point at the moment.