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Exciting times for satellite broadcast in Africa
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Thu, 03 Oct 2013 14:53
 DISCOP, Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou
A NEW ERA: Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou

This year will be an exciting one in the broadcast industry with developments signalling the beginning of a new era on the African continent.

So says Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, senior vice president: Commercial Africa for global satellite operator SES.

“It’s an exhilarating time in the industry and in Africa with a number of platforms growing direct-to-home (DTH) satellite broadcast television on the continent,” continues Guimba-Saidou. “East African pay-TV broadcaster Zuku TV recently completed its migration on the SES fleet to the newer SES-5. Zuku TV is part of Wananchi Group Holdings and is East Africa’s leading home entertainment operator with a substantial customer base in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.”

The migration of Zuku TV from the SES satellite NSS-12 to the newer SES-5 began in February 2013. SES-5 was launched last year and is positioned at 5 degrees East, one of the company’s flagship orbital slots, which supports customers across the continent to grow Africa’s DTH and broadcast services.

In another recent development, SES signed a 15-year contract with Platco Digital, a sister company of independent broadcaster, to broadcast a new free-to-air (FTA) service in South Africa with future plans to expand across Southern Africa.
The contract for two transponders, with an option for additional capacity in 2014, will allow the DTH transmission of Platco Digital’s OpenView HD platform, South Africa’s first FTA satellite TV channel, to audiences in South Africa’s urban and remote areas. SES will provide the satellite capacity on the SES-5 satellite.

“This agreement is an important step for the growth of the major South African free- to-air broadcaster in Africa’s dynamic emerging markets,” explains Guimba-Saidou. “It shows that satellite can help broadcasters overcome the challenges of terrestrial coverage, reach large audiences and extend their services with free-to-air programmes. SES is well established to provide broadcasters with the highest quality satellite capacity to build a high-value neighbourhood and grow DTH satellite TV across the continent.”

Maintaining the momentum is SES’s 10-year contract on SES-5 with StarTimes Communication Network Technology. StarTimes is China’s most influential system technology provider and network operator, and the fastest-growing digital TV operator in Africa with over 2.6 million digital terrestrial television (DTT) subscribers. StarTimes has also acquired SES’s 20% shareholding in South African pay-TV operator ODM.

This new partnership with SES enables StarTimes to have a DTH platform in addition to its existing DTT and mobile TV (CMMB) platforms in sub-Saharan Africa. The partnership will illustrate how the combination of DTH and DTT is a key enabler in Africa’s migration to digital TV and will help set the pace in the continent’s digital migration race.

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