Giuliano Berretta will step down
as CEO of Eutelsat in November, turning over leadership of the FSS operator to Michel de Rosen.Berretta, who will continue as chairman, discusses the issues facing Eutelsat, the growth potential in markets such as broadband and HD, and some of the challenges that de Rosen may face as CEO.
VIA SATELLITE: How do you view the HD landscape in Europe?
Berretta: There is a clearly a growing appetite for getting the best quality viewing experience from new-generation flat screens, and this applies both to high-definition and standard digital broadcasts. The number of HDTV channels broadcasting through Eutelsat satellites has risen over the last 12 months to 86 from 49. … It is difficult to anticipate what the growth will be over the next year, but we would hope for a similar growth to what we have seen in the last financial year. We are seeing more and more operators moving in this direction.
VIA SATELLITE: What are the prospects for 3-D HD?
Berretta: We see this as a strong future market and have been building up experience and developing partnerships on 3-D for the last 18 months. Since the beginning of 2009 we have moved into a phase of active demonstrations of the 3-D transmission chain, from filming to live viewing. We have also opened a permanent 3-D satellite channel at our 9 degrees East neighborhood.
We subscribe to the opinion that there will be two types of 3-D market and that we have a role to play in both. The first, which we are already seeing, is the out-of-home experience of 3-D viewing of films, concerts and sports events in public locations, cinemas and theaters. The second stereoscopic market will be direct to home, which is developing but will enter the market after out of-home and obviously necessitates consumer investment in new TV sets.
VIA SATELLITE: How optimistic are you that the satellite sector will be able to capture revenues from the European Union Economic Recovery Plan?
Berretta: As chairman until this summer of the European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA), I spent a lot of my energy together with members on convincing the European Commission to recognize that user satellite terminals form part of communications infrastructure, rendering them eligible for subsidies. This is a key step that will help to relieve equipment acquisition costs by consumers. We explained to the Commission that satellite operators have already shown their commitment through significant investments in infrastructure, but user terminals, which are a vital part of infrastructure, need to benefit from funding to ease their deployment.