Mexican DTH adds biz to SES

Echostar is launching a new DTH pay-TV business over Mexico (Dish Mexico), and will use a new satellite jointly owned by Groupo Medcom and Luxembourg-based SES.

QuetzSat-1 will operate from 77 deg West using frequencies allocated by the Mexican government in 2005, and part-administered by MVS Comunicaciones and Echostar, and which will enable fabled billionaire Carlos Slim’s businesses to supply triple-play services to subscribers. Twenty-five popular channels are on offer initially.

"This joint venture between MVS and EchoStar makes it possible for a large sector of Mexico's growing population to receive a popular line up of all digital television channels at an attractive price," said Charlie Ergen, CEO/chairman of EchoStar Corp.

Clemente Serna Alvear, Chairman of QuetzSat, said: “This agreement builds on our 2005 winning bid for the Ku-Band DBS frequencies at 77 deg. It is an important step in offering greater choice and service quality for television households in both Mexico and the US.”

SES owns 49% of the satellite and has signed a long-term “multi-year” agreement with Echostar to expand transmissions into Mexico and for Hispanic audiences in the USA.

“This long-term agreement exemplifies our strategy to develop wholesale DTH platforms to maximize the range of entertainment and information services available to homes in markets around the world,” said Romain Bausch, president/CEO of SES. “It also demonstrates our commitment to develop prime DTH spectrum in the Americas.”

However, the Mexican DTH venture is not virgin territory. Media giant Televisa already broadcasts its Sky Mexico pay-TV operation, 41% owned by DirecTV. DirecTV itself withdrew its product from the market some four years ago. Sky Mexico has 1.7m subs, mostly in Mexico.

SES is not having too bad a week, given it has now been confirmed that its stock will be admitted to the important Standard & Poor’s European Top 350 Indices listing. SES replaces chemical business Ciba Holdings.