HDTV helps SES stay firmly on track

Satellite operator SES, as at March 31st, was fully using 995 transponders out of a fleet total of 1249 (79.7 per cent, and up 32 transponders on the same period last year) with markets like India filling “every available transponder” on its SES-7 craft and is the reason why SES has ordered a new 33-transponder satellite (SES-8) to boost India coverage.  Prospects over Germany are also better, helped by SES Astra’s HD+ platform, and news that 9 out of 33 analogue transponders have been re-contracted for HDTV transmissions.

The move forward resulted in Q1 operating profits growing 6.7 per cent to €206.3 million, and with revenues up 4.2 per cent to €428.4 million.

This year will see another 6 new satellites added to its fleet, with three of the craft adding incremental transponders. This includes Yahsat 1A, over the Middle East, where SES Astra has a partnership to sell the DTH capacity on the craft. Yahsat 1A launched on April 22nd and comes into service within the next few days.

Romain Bausch, President and CEO, commented: “SES’ financial results are on track, reflecting business developments in the first quarter. A number of contracts were signed for new Direct-To-Home (DTH) and broadband services in Europe, and the development of HD programming in Germany was given a boost as the German public broadcasters committed to five transponders to follow the termination of analogue broadcasting in April 2012. New capacity agreements for broadcast and broadband services in Central and Latin America were signed, and additional capacity was contracted for global maritime services.”

SES’ new management structure kicked in on May Day, May 1st, which saw a consolidation of its activities under a single operational system, and helping deliver around €30 million of cost savings per annum.

SES is sticking with its formal guidance that is to deliver 3 per cent growth in recurring revenues this year, as part of the 4-5 per cent CAGR anticipated in the 2010-2012 time-frame.

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