New ARD transponder in operation

German public broadcaster ARD will commence utilising its new transponder on Astra (19.2į East) on March 19 to improve the picture quality of its digital television services.
ARDís digital channels EinsExtra, EinsFestival and EinsPlus as well as ARTE and Phoenix will change to the new transponder 51 (10.744 GHz H, SR 22,000, FEC 5/6) but will continue to be transmitted in parallel on the currently-used broadcasting slot until June 2. Educational channel BR-alpha will also switch to a new transponder, with the simulcast phase continuing until mid 2009. ARDís regional Bavarian channel Bayerische Fernsehen will in future be transmitted as Bayerisches Fernsehen Nord (north) and Bayerisches Fernsehen SŁd (south).

Some of the channels, which have until now shared capacity on ARDís two existing transponders, will be transferred to the new transponder so that all channels will have more available bandwidth. Around 5 to 6 Mbit/s per channel are envisioned. According to ARD, the rearrangement will benefit the more than 9 million households which receive digital television via satellite or cable.

The broadcaster claims that with the move it is responding to the increasing number of viewers who are changing to large, flat screen television sets, on which the improved picture quality will be especially noticeable. Additionally, ARD will also meet the requirements necessary for the transmission of, for example, Dolby Digital sound and audio description. The restructuring also means that ARDís complete range of regional service variations will become available, while viewers with digital cable reception will be able to enjoy a larger radio offering, as stations which until now were only available via satellite will also be carried on cable networks.

ARD announced in June 2007 that it had rented a new transponder from SES Astra from the beginning of 2008 to improve the picture quality of its services. English-language business channel CNBC Europe occupied the transponder in analogue until the end of 2007.