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Hispasat Expands 4K Offerings, Preps for More Transatlantic Broadcasts

By Caleb Henry | April 10, 2014
Hispasat Overon CEO NAB 4K

Ignacio Sanchis, business director of Hispasat and CEO of Oveon America Óscar López. Photo: Hispasat

[Via Satellite 04-10-2014] Spanish satellite operator Hispasat has decided to permanently broadcast a new Free-to-Air (FTA) channel in Ultra-HD, or 4K, across both North and Central America. The decision is part of the company’s goal to bolster its transatlantic coverage.

Hispasat has supported an open 4K channel in Europe since September 2013. The new FTA channel, called Hispasat 4K, was announced at NAB. The Amazonas 3 satellite will be used to broadcast the channel, which already serves several hours of programming. Hispasat also said it would supply advanced solutions for new video formats in order to accelerate the acceptance of 4K.

“We expect to rapidly increase the content available thanks to the agreement we have reached with High TV to broadcast via Hispasat 4K,” said Hispasat’s Business Director Ignacio Sanchis.

Sanchis added that Hispasat is investing heavily in research and development for 4K broadcasting, and that collaborating with decoder manufacturers is a top priority. So far, the company has demonstrated a Hispasat 4K broadcast using a High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) reference decoder designed by ST Microelectronics. Via transponder 94, Hispasat 4K will use second generation Digital Video Broadcasting — Satellite (DVB-S2) for Hispasat 4K.

The company plans to decide on a Latin America broadcast of Hispasat 4K in upcoming months, where the World Cup remains a major focus. An agreement signed with Overon, an audiovisual services company in Madrid, will enable content distribution from Hispasat’s Amazonas 1 satellite. Overon has rights to use eight transponders to telecast the World Cup to South America, North America and Europe. Hispasat expects Fox Sports and Al Jazeera to cover the event by virtue of the agreement.

“After many years of working on joint projects at European 30 degrees west position, namely permanent and occasional TV distribution services, this is the first major deal with Overon on the other side of the Atlantic,” said Oscar Lopez, CEO of Overon America. “We trust that this will be the start of many trans-Atlantic collaborations in the future.”

Hispasat has recently consolidated its agreements at its 30 degrees west orbital position, where transatlantic broadcasts are common from Amazonas 1 as well as Hispasat 1E. The Federation of Regional Organizations of Radio and Television (FORTA), RTVE and RRsat have all extended their contracts with Hispasat at this location.

Telefónica Servicios Audiovisuales (TSA) is responsible for transmitting RTVE and FORTA’s signals, and Hispasat 1E, which supports 53 transponders in Ku-band and one in Ka-band,  will broadcast RTVE’s content for its transatlantic audience in the Americas. According to Hispasat, FORTA, by virtue of the agreement, will broadcast respective regional Galician and Basque channels TVG and ETB, to America via its 1E satellite.

RRSat is working together with Hispasat for a joint program to increase the number of channels at the 30 degrees west orbital location by deploying new antennas in Europe. RRsat’s footprint on Hispasat 1E covers Europe and most of the Americas, which could provide another means of distributing transatlantic content for Hispasat.