Solaris Mobile, the JV between SES Astra and Eutelsat, has signed an agreement with Italian publishing giant Class Editori to launch a preliminary pay-radio service over Italy.
The system will debut this year (in October) in Milan, hopefully rolling out to the rest of Italy during 2012. The service will comprise satellite-delivered and terrestrial transmission of signals.
“Italy enjoys the largest number of radio channels within the EU and through this agreement, Italians will be able to access dozens of new digital radio channels broadcasting music, news, entertainment and sports, in their original format with continuity of reception across the entire country. The high quality digital audio signal will also be complemented with new visual elements, delivering sophisticated media services such as programme information and traffic related data. Class Editori will provide high quality content to radio listeners through the Solaris Mobile radio network,” said a Solaris Mobile statement.
Solaris holds an 18-year licence to operate such services over Italy, along with most of the rest of Europe.
Steve Maine, CEO, Solaris Mobile, said the agreement with Class Editori was an historic occasion not just for Italian radio audiences, but for radio listeners throughout Europe, as it signalled an innovative step forward in the migration from analogue to digital radio. “This contract is our first and marks the debut of the delivery of services using our network infrastructure within the EU. Our hybrid satellite and terrestrial network provides a cost-effective and rapidly deployable platform for digital radio broadcasters offering more channels for local, national and regional coverage,” he added.
Luca Panerai, Vice Chairman, Class Editori noted that in recent years, Class Editori had been involved in developing a pay-radio business model, which was evident by past agreements with a major automobile manufacturer and other important players interested in the development of the sector. “Finally, we now have the opportunity to begin working with a serious and motivated partner who shares our vision of building this business on a large scale. Partnering with Solaris Mobile, the initial phase, commencing in October is the first step in realising our vision of delivering the most advanced rich media infotainment and radio services to Italian listeners,” he declared.
Class Editori was an early investor in Worldspace (via a JV between the two companies in New Satellite Radio SRL). Worldspace filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy some two years ago.