WorldSpace granted German licence

Satellite radio operator WorldSpace, which plans to launch a pay-radio package for mobile handsets and car radios in Europe, has received the green light for distributing its offer in Germany.
The media authority of regional state Saarland has granted Copenhagen-based operating company WorldSpace Europe Holdings a nationwide licence for 23 thematic radio channels for a period of 10 years. The mostly advertising-free channels, which focus on music, entertainment and information, will be distributed as a subscription offer via satellite for customers in Germany. Transmission on conventional FM frequencies is not envisioned.

The granting of the broadcasting licence brings WorldSpace’s preparations another step forward. The company received approval for operating a terrestrial repeater network in Germany from national regulatory body Bundesnetzagentur in April. The transmitters, which will use the L-band, should ensure continued reception if the satellite signal is interrupted, for example through being blocked by high buildings in urban areas.

WorldSpace wants to launch its bouquet in Germany shortly after the planned introduction in Italy in 2009. Competitor Ondas Media is planning a comparable offer from 2011.

But with its future funding still uncertain, it is yet to be seen whether the beleaguered sat-radio operator will have the cash available for the major investment that may be required to launch another service from scratch.