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By | November 2, 2000

      German public radio and television broadcaster ARD intends to distribute its main domestic TV channel, Das Erste, on Eutelsat’s Hot Bird satellite system at 13 degrees East.

      According to industry sources, the directors of ARD’s regional affiliates are expected to reach a final decision on the Hot Bird move at their next general meeting in Stuttgart in November.

      Fellow German public broadcaster ZDF has been available on Hot Bird in digital since summer 1999 to reach hotels and cable networks in remote areas in holiday and tourist regions which are not covered by the footprint of Astra (19.2 degrees East).

      It is believed that this is the reason for ARD’s Hot Bird move as well. It would also end ARD’s exclusive presence on the competing Astra satellite system (19.2 degrees East). If Das Erste joins Hot Bird, the move would be more than welcomed by Eutelsat after the painful loss of the Viva music channels to Astra and boost its public image in the German market by having the respected public broadcaster on board.

      An ARD spokesman confirmed that several directors of regional affiliates support the move onto Hot Bird. However, he said that in order to reach a final decision the approval of all directors is needed.

      A Eutelsat source who preferred not to be named revealed that if the green light is given at the directors’ meeting, Das Erste would form part of the German digital platform on Hot Bird 5, transponder 155 (11.604 GHz H, SR 27.500, FEC 5/6) which is uplinked from Cologne. He pointed out that the switch-on could happen “immediately, if requested by ARD”.

      ZDF is available on Hot Bird 5’s transponder 127 (11.054 GHz H, SR 27.500, FEC 5/6) together with other German broadcasters like RTL and RTL II.

      Underlining Eutelsat’s commitment to the German market, the Paris-based satellite operator is expected to open a new main office in Cologne in November.

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