Technology & Convergence

Eutelsat Communications last week announced the conclusion of a five-year contract for capacity on its W3A satellite with Gateway Broadcast Services, which is preparing to launch an innovative new pay-TV platform for sub-Saharan Africa.

Called GTV, the platform will use Ku-band capacity connected to the African beam on W3A to broadcast direct to homes via satellite in up to 48 sub-Saharan African countries. GTV will initially launch a 15 channel service which will be uplinked to one transponder on W3A from Eutelsat's teleport in Rambouillet, near Paris.

GTV's objective is to offer a widely accessible pay-TV service providing a choice of high quality television programming at an affordable subscription price. The phased rollout of GTV began in East Africa in late June, to be followed closely by launches in Ghana, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. GTV has been designed to vastly increase the numbers of pay-TV subscribers in Africa.

In addition to international films, popular series, music, sport and religious programming GTV will carry locally-produced content from across the African continent. The service will address the growing popularity of European football in Africa, including live broadcast rights to 80 per cent of the UK's Barclays' Premier League football matches for 48 sub-Saharan African countries.

Reception will be possible in every corner of GTV's target markets with a 90cm dish, a set-top decoder and any colour television. The service will be encrypted using NDS encryption.

Julian McIntyre, Managing Director of Gateway Broadcasting Services, said, "Africa currently represents the least penetrated pay-TV market in the world, but there is a huge appetite for the premium news, sport and entertainment that pay-TV offers. Eutelsat's single, high-powered footprint across the continent will help us to dramatically increase the accessibility of high quality pay-TV to millions of viewers."

Commenting the contract with Gateway Broadcast Services Olivier Milliès-Lacroix, Eutelsat's Commercial Director, said: "We are delighted to have secured the confidence of Gateway Broadcast Services for uplinking and broadcasting GTV to homes across sub-Saharan Africa. From its 7 degrees East orbital location our W3A satellite provides premium reach to GTV's target markets combined with high power for Direct-to-Home reception. Its selection by GTV underscores its growing contribution to the development of digital services across Africa."