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Day 5 - IFA International

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at w w KEYnOTE REVIEw HDTV READY FOR LIFT-OFF SES ASTRA'S KAYSER SAYS DTH SATELLITE pROVIDES bEST HDTV pLATFORm By Marc Dezzani Download Podcast Download Video at w w Ferdinand Kayser, President and CEO SES Astra, said in his keynote speech yesterday that DTH (direct to home) satellite would be the catalyst for the imminent HDTV explosion, and that SES Astra would be at the forefront of this broadcast revolution. He noted that the launch of the first DTH satellite, Astra 1A, 25 years ago began a radical transformation of Europe's broadcast industry. "Politicians, the press and some of the public were in uproar," he said. "They were afraid that the abundance of channels would auger the cultural and political decline of the West. They painted an apocalyptic picture. But as we know, there has been no disaster, no decline and no apoc alypse…" Today, Astra has 15 satellites in orbit with 318 transponders, each one able to carry 10 digital channels. There are now 2,500 TV channels reaching 300 million homes across the continent. Moreover, SES Astra's global activities generate annual revenues of €100bn, with TV by far the biggest contributor, Kayser said. He added: "We are the leader in DTH satellite broadcasting and we are investing €400m in our satellite fleet this year. HDTV and 3D promises to breathe new life into the broadcast industry and we have the most powerful infrastructure to effectively deliver HDTV broadcasts." Kayser belives that the launch of HDTV broadcasts is as big an industry milestone as the introduction of colour television in the Seventies and digital TV in the Nineties. "We are on the tipping point for HDTV," he added. "In fact, it is set to explode. It will take over the TV landscape. It is one of the most exciting and important innovations that SES Astra has seen. HDTV is already established in the US and is now spreading rapidly in Europe. The demand for HD services is growing exponentially." Kayser reported that there are 100 million HD-Ready TV sets in Europe, 17 million of them in Germany. "SES Astra is already carrying 80 HDTV channels and this will reach over 100 in 2010," he said. Following a successful trial at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin this August, the German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF are set to launch fullservice HD channels at the beginning of 2010, with the major German commercial networks following suit later in the year. The need for the TV industry to revitalise its offer is pivotal if it wishes to compete with the internet, especially for the attention of the younger generation. "Young people are using the internet more and more and, while they have not completely turned away from TV, they are using it in parallel [with other entertainment platforms]." HDTV, he added, makes television a more attractive proposition for this demographic. SES Astra has taken a technology-neutral approach in terms of development and implementation, working with broadcasters, receiver manufacturers and competing delivery platforms, such as cable and IPTV (internet protocol TV). "Unlike other satellite platforms, that have taken a vertical integration SES Astra's Ferdinand Kayser: "The imminent launch of full-service HDTV will ensure that television remains king" approach, we are taking a horizontal integration approach," Kayser said. "This neutral strategy means that we will not become involved in any competing activities with our partners, who are the broadcasters, manufacturers, retailers and installers. Our core business is selling TV broadcast capacity." In co-operation with the industry, SES Astra has also developed the HD+ technology, which offers broadcasters and contentproviders encryption while maintaining a free-toair offering. This involves embedding a smart card in the new HD+ receivers. "HD+ is a way of maintaining openness while at the same time implementing a high level of security," Kayser said. He added that early adopters who already own a non-HD+ set top box (STB) or HDTVembedded tuner will be able to receive the new HD+ encrypted signals through an easy-to-connect CI+ module. "DTH satellite will remain the most important infrastructure for distribution, thanks to its ability to deliver hundreds of TV channels through its large bandwidth, its broad geographical reach and its proven technical reliability," Kayser concluded. "The imminent launch of fullservice HDTV will ensure that television remains king." IFA International • Tuesday, 8 th September 2009 7

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