Astra wins ProSiebenSat.1 for HD+

Jörn Krieger

Satellite operator SES Astra has won another significant customer for its new German HDTV platform HD+: Munich-based television group ProSiebenSat.1 will launch HDTV versions of its three main free-to-air channels Sat.1, ProSieben and kabel eins within the bouquet which will be distributed for DTH households in Germany via Astra (19.2° East).

The channels will be encrypted in Nagravision. For reception of HD+, certified set-top-boxes will be necessary, which will be available from several manufacturers at the service’s launch. Also, a reception fee will have to be paid.

ProSiebenSat.1 already distributed Sat.1 and ProSieben via Astra in HDTV from October 2005 until February 2008, the signals were unencrypted. The TV group blamed the insufficient number of households equipped with HDTV receivers for its withdrawal, but said that it would return in 2010.

With RTL Group, which will launch its two main free-to-air channels RTL and VOX on HD+ in late autumn, SES Astra has managed to sign up Germany’s two dominating commercial broadcasting groups for its new venture, which will now comprise a total of five channels.

It remains, however, to be seen how Germany’s federal cartel office will react to the participation of both RTL Group and ProSiebenSat.1 in HD+, after it has blocked previous attempts to jointly encrypt the free-to-air satellite signals of Germany’s leading commercial TV groups.