Viasat Ukraine, the Ukrainian DTH platform owned by Modern Times Group and Strong Media Group, has started test broadcasts from the Sirius4 satellite, planning commercial launch in Q1 or early Q2 2008. Viasat Ukraine was established in 2006 in Kiev as Vision TV, and in March 2007 the company was awarded a licence for satellite broadcasts in the Ukraine. In November, 50 per cent of its shares were purchased from Strong Media Group by Modern Times Group, the latter being the owner of pan-Scandinavian and Baltic satellite operator Viasat. The company was subsequently rebranded as Viasat Ukraine. Viasat also owns a number of national channels already broadcast in the Ukraine and other Eastern European countries including Viasat History, Viasat Explorer, TV100 East and TV 1000 Russian Kino.
Initially Viasat Ukraine planned to launch its TV service before the end of 2007, but was delayed, as the company failed to finalise agreements with the channels it intended to broadcast. Currently, the operator plans to offer 60 locally and internationally produced channels. Channels will be broadcast in DVB-S2 with MPEG-4 compression and the company will use NDS Videoguard encryption with MediaHighway middleware. Set-top boxes will be supplied by Strong. NDS will also provide the EPG system, while Strong's dealer network, which was established in the Ukraine in 1999, will be used for the distribution of hardware.
It is expected that with the cost savings of using Viasat proprietary content (Viasat History, Viasat Explorer, TV100 East and TV 1000 Russian Kino), as well as the platform enjoying the advantage of having a vertically integrated set top box supplier, Viasat Ukraine could offer a basic package for as little as $10-13 per month, substantially lower than prices offered by its competitors (for instance, NTV+ in the Ukraine provides its basic package for about $20).
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