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Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Satellite

Dish Networks names Paul Orban CFO

By Robert Briel

Dish Network has promoted Paul W. Orban to Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Orban, a 23-year veteran of DISH, had served as the company’s Senior Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer, Principal Financial Officer and Controller. Orban will continue reporting to Dish President and CEO Erik Carlson.

“Paul has been with us virtually every step of the way, having joined Dish weeks before we signed our first customer,” said Carlson.

“His encyclopedic knowledge of every aspect of our business, its finances and its strategic vision has made him an indispensable counselor to me and an outstanding leader to our business.”

Orban joined Dish in 1996 as a member of the financial reporting team. He has since held various leadership positions with increasing responsibility including Director of Accounting and Vice President of Accounting. In 2006, Orban was named Senior Vice President and Corporate Controller for DISH. He also served as Senior Vice President and Corporate Controller at EchoStar Corporation from 2008 to 2012.

Before joining Dish, Paul was an auditor at Arthur Andersen LLP. A CPA, Paul holds his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Colorado.

Eutelsat invests €10m in Broadpeak

By Robert Briel

Eutelsat Communications and Broadpeak have announced a circa 20% investment in Broadpeak.

Broadpeak is a supplier of CDN (Content Delivery Network) technologies optimising the delivery of video content over terrestrial and satellite networks. Eutelsat’s investment in Broadpeak is a further step in its strategy to integrate satellite into the Internet Protocol (IP) ecosystem, following the launch in September 2018 of Eutelsat Cirrus, its hybrid satellite-OTT solution giving satellite TV channels and operators the ability to offer a flexible and homogeneous multi-screen consumer experience.

Eutelsat and Broadpeak will pool their technological resources to expand their respective portfolios of services for telecom operators, media groups and content owners by offering them turnkey video delivery solutions enabling them to respond to the rising demand for video content on all networks. They will also work together on projects aimed at integrating satellite technology into the 5G generation of mobile networks.

Eutelsat’s investment, in the form of shares and convertible bonds, represents a consideration of circa €10 million.

Jean-Hubert Lenotte, Chief Strategy and Resources Officer at Eutelsat: “We are delighted to partner with Broadpeak with whom we have been working since 2015. This association with a recognised and innovative leader in video content delivery solutions will enable us to expand our offer in this area. Following the launch of Eutelsat CIRRUS last September, this investment reflects our strategy to accelerate the integration of IP and satellite technologies by expanding the portfolio of technological solutions available to our broadcast customers to distribute content to viewers across multiple channels.”

Jacques Le Mancq, co-founder and Chairman, explains that this operation is a new chapter in Broadpeak’s development: “This investment by Eutelsat will enable us to strengthen our team and finance the strong growth of our business. We are very excited to develop our partnership with Eutelsat, with whom we will build next-generation services to deliver, optimize and monetize high-quality video experiences for end-users, whether at home or on the move.”

Xtra TV gives Ukrainian DTH view

By Chris Dziadul

The appearance of a new DTH platform in Ukraine is highly likely, according to Yuri Cherednichok, the director of Xtra TV.

Speaking to Media Group Ukraine, the company’s owner, he added that the future of satellite TV in the country depends on channels being encoded.

This will make the business, whose future is the hybrid solution satellite and internet, more attractive.

Cherednichok also said that Xtra cancelled its conditional access cards on April 1 this year mainly in order to protect its content from piracy.

It now uses its own set-top box and the reliable Verimatrix encoding system, with subscribers being the winners.

Besides being able to watch channels in HD, they can access its service on a mobile app and online.

Xtra TV was launched in 2011 and is one of the leading players in Ukraine’s DTH market.

Major changes for Xtra TV

By Chris Dziadul

The Ukrainian DTH platform Xtra TV will make far-reaching changes to its programme offer on July 1.

They will see the introduction of four new packages, namely Xtra National, consisting of 28 TV channels and costing UAH39 (€1.3) a month; Xtra Start, 59 channels for UAH69 a month; Xtra Comfort, 71 channels for UAH109 a month; and Xtra Maximum, 77 channels for UAH189 a month.

The company also says that although the channel line-up of its TV1000 Premium HD package will remain unchanged it is being forced to increase its price to UAH69 a month.

At the same time, both the content and cost of its Football package will remain unchanged.

Xtra TV is operated by Media Group Ukraine (MGU), one of the country’s leading media companies.

Intersputnik opts for Nationsat

By Chris Dziadul

Intersputnik has decided to support Nationsat, the world’s first small geostationary satellite platform.

Comnews reports that the question of its participation was approved last month at the joint 47th session of the council and 22nd session of the Intersputnik Operational Committee in Bonn.

Nationsat is being built in the US by Saturn Satellite Network, which was launched this year by Tom Choi, the co-founder of the Hong Kong satellite operator ABS.

ABS has worked closely with Intersputnik for many years and its first satellite ABS-1 was located at 75 degrees East, coordinated by Intersputnik.

The first Nationsat satellite will be launched by SpaceX in June 2020 and equipped with C and Ku-band transponders.

Its total cost, including launch price, launch insurance and the first year of operation, will not exceed $70 million.

Fransat celebrates 10th anniversary with 2m homes

By Robert Briel

The French free-to-view Fransat bouquet is celebrating its tenth anniversary with two million homes connected.

Eutelsat launched Fransat in 2009 as an alternative to view the channels of the national French digital terrestrial network, which the French call TNT. The service is encrypted, but free to view for inhabitants of metropolitan France.

The Eutelsat-delievered package features 27 free-to-air channels replicating the DTT/TNT package, 24 regional channels from France 3 in HD, plus additional local and thematic channels, radio and connected TV services.

The bouquet not only offers the free TV channels, but viewers can also top up their viewing with pay TV channels. In order to promote the extended tier, Fransat will offer 30 subscription channels in an open window for all viewers from July 1 till July 7.

Ariane 5 delivers T-16 and Eutelsat 7C to geostationary transfer

By Robert Briel

Arianespace launched two telecommunications satellites tonight on the latest Ariane 5 success, marking the company’s 310th flight overall.

The satellites were lifted into space from Kourou, French Guiana by an Ariane 5 rocket at 23h43 CET (21h43 UTC).

Conducted from the ELA-3 launch pad, the mission deployed an estimated payload lift performance of 10,594 kg. to geostationary transfer orbit. T-16 was released first in the sequence, separating from Ariane 5 27 minutes after liftoff, followed six minutes later by its Eutelsat 7C co-passenger.

“For the second Ariane 5 launch of the year, our heavy-weight vehicle has once more performed perfectly,” said Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël, who provided his post-flight comments from the Spaceport’s mission control center. “Congratulations to all!”

DirectTV’s T-16 – produced in France by Airbus Defence and Space, based on the Eurostar 3000 LX Hybrid platform – will provide high-power broadcast services in Ku- and Ka-bands.

Being flexible, this hybrid-propulsion-powered broadcast satellite can be operated from five different orbital slots (from 99 degrees West to 119 deg. West) – with a coverage area that includes the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Its liftoff mass was estimated at 6,350 kg.

Manufactured by Maxar Technologies, Eutelsat 7C is a 3.4 tonne high-power broadcast satellite which will serve markets across Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Turkey, through 49 36-Mhz equivalent Ku-band transponders. The satellite will be co-located with Eutelsat 7B at 7 degrees East, increasing capacity for this dynamic neighbourhood by 19 transponders. It is due to enter into commercial service at the end of this year.

Currently co-located with Eutelsat 7B, Eutelsat 7A will be transferred to another orbital location as part of Eutelsat’s fleet optimisation strategy.

Rodolphe Belmer, Chief Executive Officer of Eutelsat, said: “Eutelsat 7C will allow us to further develop our 7 degrees East video neighbourhood, with two co-located high-power satellites providing the best possible support to customers in this vibrant market. We are delighted to have benefitted from Maxar’s state-of-the-art technology and to celebrate yet another successful launch with Arianespace.”

Sky Deutschland and MX1 expand collaboration

By JΓΆrn Krieger

MX1, the technical services subsidiary of Astra satellite operator SES, has concluded an extended service agreement with Sky Deutschland.

In particular, the scope of MX1’s contingency service will be expanded to include the German pay-TV broadcaster’s over-the-top (OTT) signals as well as its main broadcasts.

The MX1 broadcast centre will simultaneously receive all essential data and video transmission material from Sky Deutschland’s main channels. In the event that a natural disaster or other catastrophe impacts Sky Deutschland’s media centre, its broadcast or OTT signal can be rapidly restored via MX1’s broadcast centre in Unterföhring near Munich, Germany.

The agreement includes content management, playout and uplink services for the main signal as well as encoding and distribution for OTT delivery.

“Big players such as Sky need a reliable partner that can assure service continuity in case an unforeseen external catastrophe impacts their own infrastructure,” said Christoph Mühleib, managing director of Astra Deutschland, responsible for marketing and sales of Astra and MX1 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. “I’m proud to say that in such an event MX1 can guarantee to jump in and take over all contracted services on the same day.”

FIFA warns Arabsat over Women’s World Cup piracy on Beoutq

By Robert Briel

FIFA has issued a warning to the Saudi satellite operator Arabsat to stop transmitting illegal feeds from the Women’s World Cup, which have been pirated by BeoutQ.

Football’s global governing body said it is ‘continuing to explore each of its legal options’ and is collaborating with rights holders to end unauthorised broadcasts of the tournament and some of its other media rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

FIFA said in a statement: “FIFA is aware that unauthorised transmissions of the Fifa Women’s World Cup 2019 are being made available across the MENA region, primarily Saudi Arabia, via the pirate broadcaster known as BeoutQ.

“BeoutQ’s unauthorised transmissions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 are made available by way of Arabsat satellite frequencies. FIFA is therefore seeking the cooperation of Arabsat in addressing the misuse of FIFA’s intellectual property.

“In addition, FIFA continues to explore each of its legal options as a means to address BeoutQ’s unauthorised broadcasts. In this regard, Fifa is working with a number of other rights holders whose rights have also been infringed by BeoutQ.”

In a reaction, Arabsat denies any wrongdoing: “An investigation carried out by seven independent satellite communications experts has found no evidence that satellite frequencies belonging to the Riyadh-based Arab Satellite Communications Organisation were used for illegal broadcasts of the World Cup by ‘BeoutQ’.”

“Arabsat has always been confident that our satellite network has not been used by beoutQ,” said Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat CEO, who also said FIFA should apologise for these accusations.

BeoutQ pirates every game of Women’s World Cup in France

By Robert Briel

STORY UPDATED. Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports is claiming a major victory after it announced that a French court had found Arabsat to be involved in the alleged piracy operation beoutQ.

Every game of Women’s World Cup in France pirated by beoutQ, but major legal break-through as French court rules that beoutQ is distributed on Arabsat.

A French court has held that Arabsat – the Saudi-headquartered regional satellite provider – distributes beoutQ on its satellites, despite Arabsat’s two year denial of any involvement in this pirate broadcasting operation. The ruling came on the day that it was revealed that every single game so far of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France has been illegally shown on BeoutQ.

However, in a strange turn of events, Arabsat has issued a press release on Saturday accusing beIN of distributing fake news. “The Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) welcomes the Thursday, June 13, 2019, ruling issued by the President of Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris on the false allegations made by Qatar’s beIN Sports and its France-based branch.

“Arabsat greatly values and respects the integrity of the French judiciary, which has skillfully and professionally addressed the allegations of Qatar’s Al Jazeera subsidiary, beIN Sports. The judiciary’s ruling rejected all allegations made by beIN against Arabsat, confirming Arabsat’s valid position regarding all the accusations and defamation attempts led by Qatar’s media group, which sought to link our organization to the dubious beoutQ piracy.

“The French judiciary’s ruling, rejecting beIN’s lawsuit and allegations against Arabsat, has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt our organization’s valid position from day one, despite beIN Sports’ attempts to cast doubt on that position; its media smear campaign; and its relentless attempts to push bogus and misleading claims.”

The legal case against Arabsat was brought by beIN Media Group, which was the initial target of beoutQ’s theft of world sport and entertainment. beoutQ’s piracy operation now affects broadcasters and rights-holders all around the world. beIN’s case was brought before the President of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Parisin France because beIN has been unlawfully denied any legal recourse in Saudi Arabia where the pirate operation is based.

The purpose of beIN’s case was to establish in a court of law that, despite its denials, Arabsat has been carrying beoutQ’s pirate broadcasts. This was definitively established 12 months ago by three of the world’s leading digital security and technology companies, Cisco Systems, Nagra and Overon, and now it has been confirmed by a European court of law. Since beoutQ’s piracy began in 2017, Arabsat has, quite remarkably, denied any connection with the pirate broadcasting operation – despite beoutQ openly advertising on its Facebook and social media channels the relevant Arabsat frequencies. Arabsat has ignored literally hundreds of legal take-down notices from international broadcasters and rights-holders.

Remarkably, in response to independently-commissioned technical testing carried out for the French legal case, Arabsat frequently switched the satellite frequencies on which beoutQ’s channels are carried – including to frequencies not accessible in France and North Africa – in order to deceive the court and try to evade detection and so that the French court could not make further rulings against it. Further, for months beoutQ falsely claimed that it was a Cuban and Colombian operation until the governments of both countries issued categorical denials. Although Arabsat argued that “only beoutQ broadcasts the pirate broadcasts”, the court sided with beIN, so Arabsat can no longer maintain that it does not broadcast beoutQ.

The French ruling came on the same day that it was revealed that all first 17 games of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France so far have been illegally shown on beoutQ, in further direct theft of FIFA’s intellectual property after all 64 games of the men’s FIFA World Cup in Russia were stolen in 2018. Earlier this week, Luigi de Siervo, CEO of Lega Serie A, stated that Serie A was lobbying the Italian government to take decisive action against beoutQ and that it was also reconsidering its deal to host its Super Cup games in Saudi Arabia. The US and UK governments, the European Commission and the World Trade Organisation are all actively engaged on the matter.

Commenting on the judgment, Yousef Al-Obaidly, CEO of beIN Media Group, said: “This latest legal ruling in France shows that even if we are illegally denied access to justice in Saudi Arabia, we will use every means possible to hold beoutQ and Arabsat to account for their daily theft of rights-holders’ intellectual property. But we are not fighting this battle alone – the weight of the international community is now firmly coming to bear on Saudi Arabia to end its safe haven for piracy, which is destroying not only the economic model of the global sports and entertainment industry, but the livelihoods of content creators all around the world.”

In its ruling, the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris endorsed the technical reports produced by beIN and confirmed Arabsat’s involvement: “The reports conclude that the beoutQ channels were available on June 18 and 24, 2018 on frequency 11919 MHz H and frequency 12207 MHz V via the Badr-4 satellite, operated by Arabsat. It also appears from Arabsat’s own website that its Badr-4 satellite covers the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) and according to the footprint shown in the diagram of the site, its coverage also extends to parts of Europe, including the far south of France.”

Earlier this year, the beIN Media Group launched a dedicated website tracing the story of beoutQ, the Saudi Arabia-based pirate TV channel and Arabsat, the Riyadh-headquartered satellite provider.

Eutelsat announces successful 8-year bond issuance

By Robert Briel

Eutelsat Communications has successfully issued 8-year senior unsecured bonds for a total of €600 million.

Eutelsat said it has taken advantage of the current competitive market environment to raise long-term financing with a 8-year maturity on attractive terms. The transaction was well received by a diversified investor base, demonstrating the market’s confidence in Eutelsat’s long-term business model.

The Bonds will be issued at 99.822 per cent and will be redeemed at 100% of their principal amount at maturity. They will have a coupon of 2.250% per annum and will be cleared through Euroclear France, Clearstream and Euroclear. An application will be made for the Bonds to be listed on the Official List, and admitted to trading on the regulated market, of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. The Bonds will mature on 13 July 2027. Delivery and settlement are expected on or around 13 June 2019.

Together with other sources of cash on its balance sheet, the Bonds will enable Eutelsat S.A. to redeem the outstanding bonds issued on 13 December 2013 for a total principal amount of €930 million, bearing interest on its principal amount at a fixed rate of 2.625 per cent per annum and due January 2020.

This operation is expected to contribute to maximize Discretionary Free Cash-Flow and will generate a further pre-tax cash interest saving of approximately €10 million on an annualized basis from FY 2020-21, following the €24 million reduction of this item generated by the previous bond issue in September 2018. Furthermore, this transaction will allow Eutelsat to extend its debt maturity profile.

SES and BCE to broadcast Asteroid Day 2019 globally in HD

By Robert Briel

Viewers around the world will receive a month of programming in celebration of Asteroid Day, the official United Nations day of education and awareness about asteroids, thanks to a partnership between SES and BCE.

The broadcast will feature pre-recorded and live High Definition (HD) content from Asteroid Day’s global programmes and events throughout June 2019, building to June 30 with coverage of over 2,000 events occurring in 190 countries.

As partners in the Asteroid Day initiative SES and BCE have teamed up to bring a month-long global broadcast of the related events to audiences around the world. BCE will produce the 6 hour live production out of Cercle Cité in Luxembourg city and provide all the playout services from its media centre in RTL City, for HD distribution over satellite as well as IP networks.

The online distribution will be taken care of using BCE’s Freecaster Live Streaming solution, which will enable both live and VOD viewing on social networks and websites. For the satellite distribution, SES will broadcast the programming on five satellites to create a truly global footprint for Asteroid Day, a testament to the reach of SES. In Europe, Africa, and Asia the programming will be delivered Free-to-Air via satellite to Direct-to-Home (DTH) viewers, while in Latin and North America it will be integrated into the packages of multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) via satellite.

The programming will culminate on 28 June with Asteroid Day LIVE, a 24-hour live broadcast produced by Asteroid Day and sponsored by SES, BCE and the Government of Luxembourg. The marathon show will be hosted by prominent journalists from the BBC and CNN, who will be joined in studio and around the world by renowned astronauts, expert scientists, technologists, and researchers in planetary science.

“Luxembourg is home to a space industry and satellite telecoms infrastructure connecting Europe and the world,” said Marc Serres, CEO of the Luxembourg Space Agency.

“The expertise and valuable support of leading companies such as SES and BCE play a key role in making Asteroid Day an international success and enable all of us to have a truly global conversation about space and asteroids.”

“BCE thrives with innovation and technology,” said Xavier Thillen, Head of Digital Media Operations at BCE.

“Information is in our roots; we believe that instructing the world about asteroids has become an imperative. To do so, we are enthusiastic to use our state-of-the-art IP-based playout centre to broadcast this planetary event and reach the world with SES satellites fleet.”

“At SES, we value technology as a tool to positively impact and transform lives,” said Ruy Pinto, SES Chief Technology Officer.

“We are proud to be a partner in this global awareness campaign to learn about asteroids, both the impact hazards they may pose and the resources they may one day yield. By leveraging multiple satellites, we are using the power of our global reach to deliver this important programming to millions of TV homes.”

Ukraine gears up for DTH encryption

By Chris Dziadul

Some 100,000 set-box boxes have already been delivered to Ukraine ahead of the encryption of satellite TV services.

According to Mediasat, another 500,000 are expected by the end of the summer.

It adds, quoting Jarolslav Pakholchuk, executive director of 1+1 Media, speaking to Telekritika, that the four leading TV companies in Ukraine – 1+1 Media, StarLightMedia, Inter Media Group and Media Group Ukraine – intend to encode their satellite TV services on January 20 next year.

All told, around $7.5 million has so far been invested to date on implementing conditional access, of which $2.5 million was from media holdings and the remainder operators and equipment suppliers.

An information campaign is planned to start on August 25, with the first encoding set to follow at the beginning on November.

Encrypted satellite TV services are expected to reach around 2 million viewers in Ukraine.

Insight TV launches on Sky Deutschland

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Insight TV has made its HD channel available to the subscribers of German pay-TV platform Sky Deutschland.

The linear channel, which previously only HD+ customers could receive, can now be accessed by the subscribers of the Sky Entertainment package via the Astra satellite system (19.2° East) in Germany and Austria.

All Sky Deutschland customers – regardless of the mode of reception – can also watch a selection of Insight TV content on-demand via Sky Q and Sky Go.

In Germany, Insight TV is also available to Astra households via Freenet TV Sat und Diveo as well as on MagentaTV, wilhelm.tel, waipu.tv and Freenet TV Connect.

Proton-M successfully launches Yamal-601

By Robert Briel

The Yamal-601 telecommunication satellite was successfully launched for JSC Gazprom Space Systems.

The customer has taken control of the new satellite. The Yamal-601 project is part of the Targeted Federal Programme for the Development of Television and Radio Broadcasting in the Russian Federation. Yamal-601 is now the most powerful communication satellite in the Russian satellite constellation.

Liftoff and flight of the launch vehicle and upper stage were completed with no issues. The spacecraft separated from the upper stage on May 31, at the designated time -approximately nine hours after liftoff. The launch mass of the spacecraft, that was manufactured by the French division of Thales Alenia Space (TASF), was over five tons.

Yamal-601 will replace the Yamal-202 satellite in orbit at 49 degrees East and provide C-band fixed-line communication and data services for a large part of Russia, as well as the CIS, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. In addition, Yamal-601 will provide users in Russia with Ka-band communication services and high-speed Internet access.

“The launch of the Yamal-601 satellite exemplifies yet another constructive result of our cooperation with Gazprom Space Systems. We are prepared to launch additional spacecraft using Proton and Angara rockets to expand satellite communication in Russia. We plan on launching at least five more Proton rockets with Federal and Commercial payloads this year,” said Aleksei Varochko, Director General of the Khrunichev Space Center.

The collaborative relationship between Khrunichev and Gazprom Space Systems began over 20 years ago. The Proton launch vehicle has been used to launch seven Yamal spacecraft. The first of these launches took place September 6, 1999. Yamal-601, that was delivered to orbit by a Proton vehicle, is the eighth spacecraft in this constellation.

On February 25, 2015 Khrunichev Space Center and Gazprom Space Systems signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement as well as a contract for the use of a Proton vehicle to launch the Yamal-601 communication satellite. This was the fourth contract signed directly between Khrunichev Center and Gazprom Space Systems as part of the collaboration to deploy the Yamal satellite constellation.

Gazprom Space Systems is a subsidiary of Gazprom which develops and operates telecommunication and geo-information space systems for the Gazprom Group and other consumers. The company created and operates the Yamal satellite communication and broadcasting system as part of a satellite constellation with a wide service area and a comprehensive ground infrastructure. The company is implementing a long-term program, which includes the development of the Yamal satellite communications and broadcasting system, the development of SMOTR, a remote sensing satellite system, and the creation of a spacecraft assembly facility.

JSC Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center (part of Roskosmos State Corporation) develops and manufactures Proton launch vehicles and Breeze upper stages. Since it became operational (in 1965), the Proton launch vehicle has been launched with various upper stages in various configurations 419 times, including the launch of the Yamal-601 spacecraft.

Since 2001, the upgraded Proton-M rocket, retrofitted with the Breeze M upper stage, has been used to deliver unmanned spacecraft to high-altitude orbits and escape trajectories for Federal and commercial programs. The Yamal-601 spacecraft launch marks the 105th launch in the flight history of the Proton-M launch vehicle.

Over the years of operation, the Proton-M rocket, along with the Breeze M upper stage, has undergone four phases of significant upgrades, which resulted in markedly improved performance and environmental parameters for heavy-weight single and dual payload launches. Proton-M is capable of injecting over 6 tons of payload into geostationary transfer orbit. It should be noted that the use of a digital flight control system has significantly improved the environmental safety of the Proton Launch System. According to the results of the long-term (2008-2018) environmental support of Proton launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome, performed jointly by the Russian and Kazakhstan parties, it was concluded that the man-made environmental impact did not exceed the allowable levels during nominal launches.

Eutelsat 7C arrives in Kourou

By Julian Clover

EUTELSAT 7C arrival at Cayenne-Félix-Éboué airport, where the container with the satellite is unloaded from an Antonov cargo plane. (Arianespace)

Eutelsat’s latest high-power satellite has arrived at the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana ahead of its Ariane 5 rocket launch on 20 June.

Built by Maxar Technologies, the 3.4 tonne Eutelsat 7C satellite will serve markets across Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Turkey through 49 36-MHz equivalent Ku-band transponders.

It will be co-located with Eutelsat 7B at 7 degrees East, increasing capacity the neighbourhood by 19 transponders. Eutelsat 7A will be relocated as part of Eutelsat’s fleet optimisation strategy.

The satellite will be launched alongside DirecTV 16 during a launch window opening at 21:43 UTC and closing at 23:30 UTC.

The satellite will go into full commercial service at the end of 2019 following all electric orbit raising and in orbit tests.

David M. Tolley to join Intelsat as EVP and Chief CFO

By Robert Briel

Intelsat has appointed David M. Tolley as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, effective June 3, 2019.

Tolley will report to Intelsat’s Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Spengler, and oversee Intelsat’s global finance organisation. He will serve on Intelsat’s Management Committee and be based in the company’s US administrative headquarters in McLean, Virginia.

Tolley brings over 20 years of financial experience to Intelsat. He most recently served as the Chief Financial Officer of OneWeb where he led the global finance organization and served on the company’s Executive Committee. Prior to OneWeb, Tolley served as a Senior Managing Director in the Private Equity Group at Blackstone, where he led satellite services strategy and investing and served on the Private Equity Investment Committee.

During that period, he was Chairman of the Board of Directors of NewSkies Satellites N.V. and led the public-to-private acquisition, re-IPO and ultimate divestiture of NewSkies to SES S.A. Prior to Blackstone, he was a Vice President at Morgan Stanley in the Investment Banking Division, where he provided banking and advisory services to established and emerging companies in the broader communications sector.

Tolley earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and history from the University of Michigan and his MBA from Columbia Business School. He currently serves on the board of directors of ExteNet Systems and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Commenting on Tolley’s appointment, Spengler said: “I am very pleased to welcome David to Intelsat. He is a great addition to our leadership team and will help us execute our long-term strategy as we bring innovative services to market and pursue new opportunities in the verticals that we serve. His wealth of investing, corporate finance and capital markets experience will be a tremendous asset as we continue to take a disciplined approach to capital allocation. He will build upon the progress that Jacques Kerrest, our retiring CFO, has made toward achieving our financial objectives and focus on delivering value to all of our stakeholders.

Tolley added: “I am excited to be joining Intelsat at a pivotal time, when global expectations for ubiquitous broadband connectivity are growing faster than ever. The company is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the opportunities ahead and play an integral role in the global 5G telecommunications ecosystem. It’s an exciting time for Intelsat and I look forward to supporting and advancing the company’s transformation.”

Ivory Coast accelerates digital migration with SES

By Robert Briel

Ivory Coast’s public broadcasting company, the Société Ivoirienne de Télédiffusion (SIDT) has selected SES as its digital partner in the move to meet the country’s 2020 deadline for switching over from analogue to digital broadcasting.

Under this multi-year agreement, 60 analogue turned digital channels will be broadcast via the SES-4 satellite at 22 degrees West.

SES will be using the coverage of SES-4 to ensure high service availability of bandwidth and to broadcast all channels via the Digital Terrestrial Television infrastructure across Ivory Coast. These digital channels will then be available to all Ivorian TV viewers who have a digital set-top box or an integrated digital TV with a built-in DTT decoder.

In addition to using SES-4 to accelerate the digital switchover, the capacity leased on SES-4 for digital broadcasting will also be used to broadcast Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI), the state’s public TV network, to fulfill its public service mission of providing local news and information to Ivorians.

“SES has provided us with an innovative solution to ensure deployment of digital TV by broadcasting multiplexes across the country. This is an important milestone as we are now one step closer to ending analogue service,” said Yeo Adama, General Manager of the SIDT.

“We are excited to work with SES, which has both the technical capabilities and the practical experience required to support our ambitious projects, including the implementation of new broadcasting standards.”

“The move from analogue to digital broadcasting can be complex, and we are fully committed to making this as hassle-free as possible for the SIDT in Ivory Coast. Our satellite will provide the reliability to broadcast high-picture-quality TV services to Ivorians, while our teams are well-positioned to deliver the technical services and innovative solutions required to facilitate a successful digital migration for Ivory Coast,” said Clint Brown, VP of Sales and Market Development for SES Video in Africa.

DTH subscriber falls to spread from North America to Europe and Far East

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

Direct to Home satellite TV (DTH) subscriber falls will accelerate and spread from North America to Europe and eventually to the Far East, according to Rethink Technology Research’s Rethink TV service.

Where subscribers numbers rise there will be falls in ARPU.

The decline in DTH will turn out to be terminal, and yet it all began when cable TV began to churn around 2010, a story which spread to the US satellite operators a few years later.

Today the exodus is gathering speed and starting to spread to Europe, leaving operators scrambling to mop up their departing customers via the life rafts of low ARPU OTT.

This makes it impossible to maintain existing high ARPUs at historical levels, and the wheels have just come off for AT&T in the US as DirecTV Now, its stand-alone OTT is seen as an alternative to the main DTH service – both have now been losing subs after initial gains and investors are starting to ask if this is a permanent trend.

What is still true is that DTH continues to thrive where there are no competitive alternatives for premium content, or where one operator has hogged the most sought-after sports rights.

And in some parts of the world DTH continues to provide an engine of growth for pay TV – but only in developing markets and only for a short while longer, notably India.

Latin America with it artificially high pay TV ARPU looks less like India and more like the US and sustaining ARPU there will be a thankless challenge.

DTH saw rapid growth in pay TV until 2014 in Latin America, on the back of an expanding middle class in key markets. Now it is set for a period of decline and falling ARPU as OTT services continue to take off there and provide a direct threat.

This report looks at multiple geographies, the Americas, Europe, and developing countries in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa along with Oceania.

In Europe the picture is more mixed, with the decline well advanced for some operators such as France’s Canal+, whose base will be halved by 2024 from 2018. Some Eastern European markets have profiles more like developing countries, most notably Cyfrowy Polsat in Poland, set to continue gaining subs for at least the next few years. However, even these operators will run out of rope towards the end of the forecast.

In Asia Pacific DTH subscriber growth will be sustained throughout the period but with signs of flattening later around 2024. We anticipate some Asia Pac operators that are still growing subs now will reach a turning point during the forecast period with decline setting in just before 2024.

Squaring all the regions together there is still a global rise in DTH numbers, but this will come to an end during 2020, and move on to an accelerating decline as more and more DTH operators in Asia Pacific pass their summit.

Management acquires Media Broadcast Satellite

By JΓΆrn Krieger

The managing directors of Media Broadcast Satellite, Christian Fleischhauer and Sven Sünberg, as well as the technical director Qi Zhang-Holste, have agreed to take over the German satellite services provider from its previous parent company, a French-American private equity fund.

The three managers acquire all shares in the company based in Usingen near Frankfurt in federal state Hesse through the newly founded holding company MBS Holding. The purchase price was not disclosed. Wirtschafts- und Infrastrukturbank Hessen (WIBank) is providing a loan of €7.5 million to co-finance the takeover. A further €2 million will be contributed by managed funds of BM H Beteiligungs-Managementgesellschaft Hessen, a subsidiary of Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen.

The financial means of WIBank and BM H will not only enable the new shareholders to take over the company, but also to expand its service portfolio in a future-oriented manner and thus open up new markets, WIBank stresses in a statement. The company plans, for example, to expand its activities in commercial data traffic via satellite and the internet. Customer groups include government-related organisations on national and European level as well as globally active companies.

Additionally, Media Broadcast Satellite wants to use to financial means to invest in data transmission via satellite for fast-moving reception units such as cars, aircrafts and ships. The aim is to improve global satellite-based data exchange for road, air and sea traffic, also with a view to the future market for self-driving cars.

“Hesse is and should remain an attractive location for innovative technology companies. With this innovation loan, we are helping to secure Hesse’s economic future,” said Tarek Al-Wazir, Hesse’s Economics Minister (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen).

Media Broadcast Satellite was originally part of Media Broadcast Group which was acquired by Freenet in March 2016. The satellite division was excluded from the transaction and remained in the hands of the financial investors, who are now withdrawing from the company through the management buy-out.

Media Broadcast Satellite operates satellite communications services with around 70 employees at its earth station in Usingen. More than 230 million households in 60 countries in Europe, North Africa and the Arab world are supplied with around 225 TV channels from the uplink site. For data distribution via internet, the earth station is connected to the world’s largest internet hub in Frankfurt, DE-CIX.