HDTV specifications and timetable agreed by SES ASTRA and industry partners from all over Europe

20 Jun 2004

"HDTV" label for display devices to be launched in collaboration with major industry partners

SES ASTRA, an SES GLOBAL company (Euronext Paris, Luxembourg and Frankfurt Stock Exchanges: SESG), in a concerted effort with more than sixty of its European broadcast customers, hardware manufacturers and other industry partners, at their second European HDTV Forum session held on the 17th of June at SES ASTRA's headquarters in Luxembourg, have agreed on the technical aspects and the timetable for the introduction of HDTV (High Definition Television) services in Europe via the ASTRA Satellite System.

Due to the eye-catching higher resolution compared to standard definition broadcasts, HDTV offers a compelling new viewing experience, notably on state-of-the-art flat screen displays and home cinemas, which are being installed at an increasing rate in European homes.

HDTV is already a reality in countries like the United States and Japan, where more than 6 million households currently receive HDTV broadcasts and all major broadcasters offer full-fledged HDTV services.

SES ASTRA pioneered the transmission of HDTV services in Europe with EURO 1080. Europe's first dedicated HDTV offer has been broadcasting via the ASTRA satellite system at 19.2° East since January 1st, 2004. In the meantime, the interest in HDTV has gained considerable momentum in several European countries under the ASTRA footprint. The latest pan-European HDTV initiative undertaken by ASTRA and renowned industry partners is expected to trigger a rapid deployment of the new technology across various European markets, with additional HDTV channels expected to launch as early as this year on the ASTRA Satellite System.

To ensure a uniform roll-out and avoid a fragmentation of the nascent market in Europe, SES ASTRA and its industry partners have agreed on the minimum technical specifications for HDTV broadcasts, based on e.g. the open MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 AVC standards. These technical specifications include:
- HDTV ready displays need a minimum of 720 lines vertical resolution
- Scan formats of 720P50 and 1080i25 for HDTV
- Standard interfaces for peripheral equipment

SES ASTRA and its industry partners have also agreed on the launch of an "HDTV" label which will be deployed to identify future-proof HDTV displays. The label is intended to ensure consumer confidence when acquiring new display devices and will be used in the upcoming HDTV marketing campaigns of the different manufacturers promoting the pan-European HDTV initiative.

Ferdinand Kayser, President and CEO of SES ASTRA, states: "So far, Europe has been trailing countries like the United States with respect to the introduction of HDTV services. At the same time, sales of flat screen displays have been booming. Independent research institutes actually suggest that in a few years tens of millions of HD enabled TV sets will be deployed in the different European countries. By agreeing on minimal technical specifications and building on open standards, SES ASTRA and its partners from the broadcast and hardware industry intend to ensure that the roll-out of HDTV services in Europe kick-starts as early as this year."

For further information please contact:

Yves Feltes
Press Relations, SES ASTRA
Tel +352 710 725 311


The ASTRA Satellite System is Europe’s leading Direct-to-Home satellite system, delivering services to more than 94 million Direct-to-Home and cable households. The ASTRA satellite fleet currently comprises 13 satellites, transmitting in excess of 1100 analogue and digital television and radio channels as well as multimedia and Internet services. ASTRA’s two prime orbital positions for DTH (Direct-To-Home) services are 19.2° East and 28.2° East. Professional services like Direct-to cable (DTC), Satellite Newsgathering (SNG) and Occasional Use are offered from the orbital positions of 23.5°/24.2° East and 5.2° East.

SES ASTRA is an SES GLOBAL company (Euronext Paris, Luxembourg and Frankfurt stock exchanges: SESG). SES GLOBAL wholly owns two market-leading satellite operators, SES ASTRA in Europe, and SES AMERICOM in the US. The Company also holds strategic participations in AsiaSat in Asia, Star One and Nahuelsat in Latin America, and NSAB in Europe. Via its WORLDSAT subsidiary it provides unparalleled connections to the premier regional satellite fleets of these SES GLOBAL partners. Americom Government Services provides network solutions and bandwidth to the US government and its contractors. SES GLOBAL can provide outstanding satellite communications solutions via a fleet of 40 satellites across the globe. In addition, SES GLOBAL is a shareholder in ORBCOMM, a provider of wireless data communications services through a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite network, and in satellite technology companies Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. and ND Satcom. Last but not least, SES GLOBAL is a founding shareholder in SATLYNX, a Luxembourg based joint venture with Gilat and Alcatel Space, which has created an unrivalled portfolio of reliable and cost-efficient two-way satellite broadband service solutions to Enterprises/Corporates, consumers and small office/home office (SOHO) users all over Europe. Additional info on SES GLOBAL at: www.ses-global.com.