Text of press release by the European satellite organization Eutelsat on 29 March
Eutelsat’s Atlantic Bird 3 satellite, located at 5 degrees West, has been selected to deliver to broadcast transmitters the five new digital terrestrial multiplexes, which will start commercial service in France on 31 March. The 5 degrees West location has been used to deliver France’s analogue terrestrial TV channels to French transmitters since 1985.
In the first phase of the deployment of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) in France Atlantic Bird 3 will deliver the five multiplexes to 17 transmitters, reaching 35 per cent of the French population. The multiplexes will begin by carrying the 14 free-to-air channels and from September  will deliver the complete range of free-to-air and pay-per-view channels to transmitters around France which will ultimately number more than 100.
Three 36 MHz transponders on Atlantic Bird 3 have been assigned to the five multiplexes. The signals routed by satellite will be received by each individual transmitter and retransmitted locally, with local retransmitter relays for major urban areas as required.
“Primary distribution of television programmes to terrestrial transmitters and cable networks is a key business activity for Eutelsat, particularly in France where our Atlantic Bird 3 satellite already distributes all analogue channels and now the new digital terrestrial channels”, explains Olivier Millies-Lacroix, Eutelsat’s Commercial Director. “The introduction of digital in 1995 saw a dramatic expansion of the audiovisual offer, with the number of television programmes carried by our satellites in Europe rising from 50 to 1,500. Today’s burgeoning broadband network technologies, fixed and mobile, are creating new opportunities where satellite has a key role to play in providing feeds and universal coverage, whether the requirement is to deliver programmes to a 160 centimetre television screen or to a mobile phone 40 times smaller. Our satellites are already an important component in the deployment of DTT in Italy and the United Kingdom and we are very proud to have been chosen to play a part in its realization in France.”
As of 31 March 2005, 14 free-to-air DTT channels will be available in France:
Six public channels: France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5, Arte, La Chaine Parlementaire (the latter alternating LCP programmes - Assemblee Nationale and Public S\Ãƒ©nat)
Eight commercial channels: TF1, Canal Plus, M6, Direct 8, W9, NRJ 12, NT1, TMC.
(Source: Eutelsat, Paris, in English 29 Mar 05 via BBC Monitoring)