SES Astra expands Dutch DTH capacity at 23.5° East
Friday, September 7th, 2007

SES Astra announced today a capacity agreement with the Dutch satellite TV provider CanalDigitaal for two additional transponders at Astra’s orbital position 23.5° East, targeting the Dutch and Flemish markets. With this contract, SES Astra is further building up this orbital slot as a new Direct-to-Home (DTH) position. CanalDigitaal will launch its new digital thematic package at 23.5° East this autumn and add a whole range of new HDTV services at a later stage. Following the agreement, CanalDigitaal is using a total of six transponders on the Astra Satellite System. In November 2006, the Dutch regional broadcasters had already launched free-to-air via one transponder at 23.5° East.

According to the agreements, CanalDigitaal’s existing services will continue to be transmitted via Astra 19.2° East. To allow for a cost-efficient and easy reception of the services from 19.2° East and 23.5° East via existing 60 cm dishes, SES Astra and CanalDigitaal have jointly developed the so-called DUO LNB 60. Following an extensive promotion campaign this summer in cooperation with the Dutch regional broadcasters, over 50,000 DUO LNB’s have already been sold into the Dutch market. Furthermore, two weeks after the announcement of its new digital thematic package, CanalDigitaal has already nearly 40,000 pre-registrations for the new offer on 23.5° East.

SES Astra currently reaches over 750.000 DTH homes subscribing to CanalDigitaal. The programme offer includes all Dutch national channels and a wide range of thematic channels. Following the launch in 2006 of TV Vlaanderen, CanalDigitaal’s sister company in Flanders, the Flemish DTH market currently counts over 50,000 TV Vlaanderen subscribers.

To further support the growth of the market, SES Astra is opening a Benelux marketing affiliate in Hilversum. The Astra Benelux manager Bill Wijdeveld has been appointed General Manager of Astra Benelux. Alexander Oudendijk, Chief Commercial Officer of SES Astra, said: “Over the last years, DTH satellite reception has matured rapidly in the competitive Dutch speaking markets. We are fully confident that Astra 23.5° East will become an important additional DTH position, in conjunction with the Astra 19.2° East position. The quick take-up of Astra DUO LNB sales in the Netherlands confirms that the concept of duo-satellite reception works, provided the channel neighbourhood is attractive and the reception devices cost-efficient and easy to use.”

Kees Färber, Chief Operating Officer at CanalDigitaal, said: “The Dutch market has grown successfully with a single satellite position at Astra 19.2° East. Our strong need to offer more digital channels and expand into HDTV has led us to choose a strategic expansion via Astra 23.5° East. Ease of installation and compatibility with existing customer equipment are strong requirements in order to make this combination a success. The high demand for the new DUO LNB proves that we found the right solution to continue reliable DTH services for TV and radio and to secure a customer-friendly way to further expand our market.”

(Source: SES Astra)