ZDF sceptical of SES Astra’s HD+
German public broadcaster ZDF is sceptical as to whether the planned distribution of the HDTV versions of commercial channels RTL and VOX via the new HDTV platform HD+ set up by satellite operator SES Astra will be accepted by viewers, and fears that the venture could halt the development of HDTV.
"We don't exactly know yet the concept behind it, but basic encryption seems to be part of if", Eckhard Matzel, head of ZDF's Technical Innovation Office, told industry portal DWDL. "Whether viewers will then be asked to pay once or several times for programmes full of commercials is yet unclear, but if this is the case, in my opinion the concept won't work. It will unfortunately only put viewers off." He said that he strongly doubts the success of the venture.
Tobias Schwahn, HDTV expert at ZDF, criticised that there would "evidently be mandatory set-top-boxes again". One has to assume that current HDTV households are very technology-savvy, he said. "And they generally do not respond well to stipulations regarding receivers." Schwahn wants to see a model employed which will allow current owners of HDTV set-top-boxes to receive HD+ using their existing devices. "Our colleagues would certainly be well advised to ensure that the receivers already on the market can still be used. One can't afford to snub technology-savvy households, as they are the very people who can get the HDTV ball rolling."
SES Astra plans to launch HD+ on Astra (19,2° East) for DTH satellite households in Germany this autumn. RTL and VOX are the first channels to have signed up for the platform, with negotiations with further broadcasters in progress. Nagravision will be the encryption system utilised, with compatible receivers carrying the logo HD+.