Satellite Update: Al Jazeera HD expands reach


Free-to-air satellite update

  • Al Jazeera HD expands satellite reach.
  • Zee for all: new station launches at the end of the month.
  • Sky UK transponder squeeze.
  • New free-to-air additions and changes.

Al Jazeera has launched an additional HD outlet on satellite, enabling millions more viewers across Europe to access the high definition version of its English language news channel.

As of 1st July, Al Jazeera English HD is available via the Astra 1 satellite cluster at 19.2 degrees East. UK and Ireland viewers with multisat or motorised satellite systems, including those with access to the French TNTSAT or German free-to-air channels, should be able to add the channel. In many areas a Sky zone 1 or 2 dish is adequate for reception.

The Astra 1 satellite cluster reaches over 40 million households directly, with the figure more than doubling when cable relays are added.

Earlier this year, Al Jazeera HD was launched on Eutelsat's Hot Bird (13 degrees East), covering Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Hot Bird is primarily used in Eastern and southern European countries for the distribution of their channels.

There's been no word as to when Al Jazeera HD will launch on Astra 2; such a move would make the channel officially available in the UK and Ireland via normal Sky and Freesat setups. In the UK, Al Jazeera HD is available on Freeview HD channel 108.

In March, a distribution deal betwen Al Jazeera and Arqiva was announced. One of the key goals of the agreement was to improve picture quality - i.e. make Al Jazeera HD available to more viewers globally.

Satellite:    Astra 1KR (19.2° East)
Frequency:    11229
Polarisation: Vertical
Symbol Rate:  22000
FEC:          2/3
Mode:         DVB-S2 
(Not via normal Sky/Freesat receivers & dish)


Bollywood comes to Europe
Zee TV is launching a new free-to-air channel, aimed at Germany, but available across the British Isles and the whole of the Europe via Astra 1.

The channel will launch on 29th July in both SD and HD, but test broadcasts are already on air. Programmes will either be available in German or in Hindi with subtitles.

The new channel's free-to-air status breaks ranks with what is common in the UK: most of Zee TV's UK output is provided on a pay TV basis.

Zee One SD
Satellite:    Astra 1KR (19.2° East)
Frequency:    10921
Polarisation: Horizontal 
Symbol Rate:  22000
FEC:          7/8
Mode:         DVB-S 
(Not via normal Sky/Freesat receivers & dish)


Zee One HD
Satellite:    Astra 1KR (19.2° East)
Frequency:    10964
Polarisation: Horizontal 
Symbol Rate:  22000
FEC:          2/3
Mode:         DVB-S2 
(Not via normal Sky/Freesat receivers & dish)



Sky HD squeeze
Sky UK had begun to allocate seven HD channels per satellite transponder, following improvements in encoder technology, although technology purists may disagree with the decision, fearing picture quality degradation.

Reception reporter James spotted the seven HD channels assigned to the Astra 2 satellite transponder on 12246, vertical (symbol rate 29500, FEC 8/9, DVB-S2).(Since publishing this article, James has been in touch with further transponders that have been filled with 7 HD channels - a number of reshuffles are taking place at the moment) By comparison, the BBC has 4 HD channels per transponder with ample unused space for additional streams once the new BBC Charter and funding agreement unlocks the way for more regional and national BBC services.

Home and Leisure - new on Sky
A new lifestyle channel has launched on Sky this week. Home and Leisure is available on Sky channel 237.
Satellite:    Astra 2 (28.2-5° East)
Frequency:    11671
Polarisation: Horizontal 
Symbol Rate:  22000
FEC:          5/6
Mode:         DVB-S 
Service ID:   50440


Bloomberg moved
Free-to-air business news channel had changed transponder, affecting Sky and Freesat. The version of the channel carried on the Astra 2 satellite cluster is now available via the following parameters. Sky and Freesat viewers who have lost the fhannrl may need to reboot their satellite receiver.

Satellite:    Astra 2 (28.2-5° East)
Frequency:    11685
Polarisation: Vertical  
Symbol Rate:  22000
FEC:          5/6
Mode:         DVB-S 
Service ID:   55300

Local channel on new transponder 
The local TV channel for Leeds - Made In Leeds -  has been spotted broadcasting on a new transponder, suggesting an imminent switch, according to a516digital reception reporter John. Made In Leeds is only available on Sky receivers via satellite and can be manually tuned in on Sky boxes outside of the station's local area on a free-to-view basis.

Satellite:    Astra 2 (28.2-5° East)
Frequency:    11426
Polarisation: Vertical  
Symbol Rate:  27500
FEC:          5/6
Mode:         DVB-S 
Service ID:   52554

4Music added to main Channel 4 transponder 
Music and entertainment channel has popped up on the main Channel 4 transponder, heightening speculation that the service will go free-to-air. 4Music is a joint venture between Channel 4 and Bauer Media, part of The Box Plus Network. It's sister music channels are already free-to-air.

4Music is currently available on Freeview, but encrypted on satellite

Satellite:    Astra 2 (28.2-5° East)
Frequency:    10714
Polarisation: Horizontal 
Symbol Rate:  22000
FEC:          5/6
Mode:         DVB-S 
Service ID:   9240


Magic and recently launched Box Upfront have popped up on this transponder, indicating an imminent change:

Satellite:    Astra 2 (28.2-5° East)
Frequency:    11426
Polarisation: Vertical 
Symbol Rate:  27500
FEC:          5/6
Mode:         DVB-S 
Service ID:   52556 - Magic TV
              52550 - Box Upfront       
Sky and Freesat viewers should not need to take any action when the old frequency is turned off.



Satellite:    Astra 2 (28.2-5° East)
Frequency:    10714
Polarisation: Horizontal 
Symbol Rate:  22000
FEC:          5/6
Mode:         DVB-S 
Service ID:   9240


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