VIA SATELLITE: How do you see satellite technology fitting into the broadcast landscape? How will it work alongside fiber?
Leveaux: I think we need to have a global approach. We can’t have a country-by-country approach when dealing with this. In Western Europe and North America, we are moving more towards Internet networks. I think in two to three years, we will move towards that. But, I think satellite will still be relevant. We still need both systems. In France, for example, only around 10 million people can see television from Internet systems. It is a question of time. In the next five to 10 years, we will need both in Western Europe, North America and in Asia, but in Africa we will need much more satellite. When I see that we have a big audience in countries like Russia and Ukraine, the need for satellite is strong. In 10 years, we might be able to say that we don’t need Hot Bird anymore, but certainly not for a while.
Harrison: Canada is a very large country. So, despite the decision with Canada’s NGCN project to move more towards fiber, satellite is still very important to us, particularly when connecting to distant remote sites or for international distribution/contribution of our content. Being in a file-based environment, doing live production and using the drag and drop functionality among our production sites requires bi-directional connectivity and low latency within our operations. Our backbone now relies more on fiber because of that.
Schmitt: It is becoming a mix between satellite and fiber optic delivery. We are using the combination more since Eurosport is based in several different countries and we are using more than 20 different satellite transponders. If we want to broadcast everywhere across several territories, then clearly satellite is the best solution in order to reach the different cable head-ends and ingest Eurosport everywhere. It is true that we are using the fiber optic link for contribution, as the costs are lower. It may be more efficient in terms of quality of service also.
Donovan: I think satellite still has a really important place in broadcast distribution. It is hard to imagine a more efficient point-to-multipoint distribution system. For example, my signals for HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel (HD) go to several thousand cable-receiving head-ends. The thought of having to deliver to all of those receiving points over terrestrial fiber would be very difficult. A lot of the cable operators are inter-connecting. Comcast and Cox have big inter-connections, so that brings down the numbers of individual sites that I need to broadcast to. But, there are still going to be a lot of smaller operators that have to take it from satellite. If they are not able to receive it over satellite, they are not going to be able to receive at all. So, certainly fiber is important to my distribution plan, but I see it as being more incremental than something that is going to replace satellite entirely.