Premiere goes its own way in Austria

Jörn Krieger

Satellite households in Austria will in future no longer be able to receive channels from German pay-TV operator Premiere on the smartcards of Austrian public broadcaster ORF, Alexander Winheim, spokesman of Premiere Austria, confirmed to Austrian newspaper Der Standard.

Winheim didn’t say when this would happen, nor did he elaborate on the reasons behind the move. ORF’s channels will remain available on Premiere’s smartcards. The decision means that DTH viewers in Austria will in future need a second smartcard if they want to subscribe to Premiere.

Since November 2007, the Munich-based pay-TV broadcaster has been offering the possibility of subscribing to its packages Premiere Austria and Premiere Thema through ORF’s smartcard. A simple telephone call to its hotline was all that was required to activate reception. For this reason, the channels have been encrypted on Astra (19.2° East) in the Cryptoworks system used by ORF.

The termination of the cooperation with ORF could be a hint that Premiere is preparing for a complete switch to the VideoGuard system, developed by its main shareholder News Corp’s subsidiary NDS, for its satellite transmissions. The contract with the Nagravision system, which is currently used along with VideoGuard, ends in 2012 with an option to extend until 2015.