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Dutch regions go free to air

16 November 2006

In advance of next month’s analogue switch-off in the Netherlands, SES Astra has announced that it has signed a capacity agreement with ROOS, the association of Dutch public regional broadcasters. Following the agreement 10 regional broadcasters will be digitally distributed free-to-air via Astra.

The distribution of the Dutch regional broadcasters via Astra will allow TV homes in the Netherlands to receive regional television and radio in digital quality after next month’s switch-off of the analogue terrestrial network. In addition to the regional broadcasters, Astra satellite viewers already have access to all national Dutch channels and an array of thematic channels via Dutch bouquet operator, CanalDigitaal. which will provide related platform services such as EPG inclusion.

The Dutch regional broadcasters will initially be launched on Astra`s main orbital position 19.2_ East as well as on 23.5_ East where the Astra 1D satellite is available for commercialisation, offering 16 additional transponders. The satellite dish equipment to receive signals from both orbital positions is available to households already today. In addition, with the further development of the orbital position 23.5_ East for Direct-to-Home (DTH) reception, specific new equipment will be available on the market in the course of next year, allowing for the combined reception from Astra 19.2_ East and Astra 23.5_ East with the existing 60 cm dishes.

Following this market introduction, the Dutch regional broadcasters will continue to be broadcast only from Astra 23.5_ East. SES Astra will continue to develop the 23.5_ East orbital slot with the planned launch of the Astra 3B satellite.

“We are very pleased to have the Dutch regional broadcasters coming on Astra, representing an attractive extension of the Dutch language programme line-up”, said Alexander Oudendijk, chief commercial officer of SES Astra. “The arrival of the Dutch regional broadcasters confirms the well-established position of satellite as digital infrastructure in the highly competitive Dutch market. The start also represents an important further step in the development of our orbital slot 23.5_ East as a prime orbital position for DTH in the Netherlands and other European markets. We will continue working on further enhancing the attractiveness of this new hot spot.”

Gerard Schuiteman, director of ROOS, added: “The free-to-air distribution via Astra provides an important extension of our household reach, while allowing Dutch TV homes to continue receiving regional TV and radio programmes also via satellite after the upcoming analogue terrestrial switch-off. And thanks to the nature of satellite distribution, the regional broadcasters can be received all across the Netherlands – and far beyond.”

The ten regional channels distributed free-to-air via Astra are: Omrop Fryslan, RTV Noord, RTV Drente, RTV Oost, Omroep Gelderland, RTV Noord-Holland, RTV Rijnmond, Omroep Zeeland, Omroep Brabant and L1 Radio-TV.

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