TS News - Digital TV Launched In Germany

TELE-satellit News, 30 July 1996

Digital TV Launched In Germany
  MUNICH, Germany, 96/07/29 (Sat-ND) -- For the third time in his life, Leo
Kirch has given an interview. Speaking to Welt am Sonntag, the German media
mogul had wonderful things to say about his digital television package DF1:
"This is the merging of
television with multimedia and online services."

  DF1 was launched today on ASTRA 1D and 1E (19.2E) with coverage of the
Formula One Grand Prix, where viewers could switch between views from German
racing driver Michael Schumacher's car or from various cameras around the track.

  Satellite DXers may have noticed the analogue feeds for DF1's sports
channel, DSF Plus. Interestingly, they were freely available using the
analogue PAL system.

  So far, only about 100 households are reported to be equipped with a
decoder to watch the 17 channels. However, Kirch expects the package to have
reached the 200,000 subscriber mark at the end of the year, offering 30
channels by then. In 2000, the turnover in German digital pay TV will be DM3
billion, according to his forecast.

  German anti-trust authorities are not quite as enthusiastic. Kirch's deal
with Bertelsmann to develop a common decoder has raised the attention of the
Federal Cartel Office. Plans of distributing Bertelsmann's Club RTL package
via DF1 would amount to a distribution cartel, an official said.

  The head of RTL Television, Helmut Thoma, expects 10 to 14 of Germany's
free-to-air channels to move to digital pay TV lastly. Only four to six
channels would be able to survive without additional fees. However, he added
that there won't be any new viewers for digital theme channels. Being not
quite in line with RTL's main shareholder Bertelsmann, he once again
declared the current hype to be the digital form of mad cows disease.

  Source: Sat-ND

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