Advanced Television

SES: 220 HDTV channels over Europe

July 29, 2011

By Chris Forrester

SES unveiled its half-year results on July 29, stating that recurring revenues were up 3 per cent to €853 million, EBITDA up 4.2 per cent to €644.4 million and a margin of 75.5 per cent, culminating in operating profit up 4.1 per cent to €402m. SES’s overall backlog stands at €7 billion.

SES says the strength of the Euro against the US dollar resulted in a fairly flat evolution of revenue and EBITDA against the prior year period. 2011 is a highly concentrated year for launching replacement and new capacity, with a record six launches during the second half of the year. The successful launch this month of SES-3, a replacement satellite, is to be followed by a further five missions carrying 123 incremental transponders into orbit.

At 30 June, the group’s transponder utilisation was 80.7 per cent, or 1,008 of the 1,249 transponders commercially available.

In the European markets, there were a number of favourable developments in the first half, as television services continued to grow, with High Definition channels featuring strongly. Astra satellites now broadcast 220 HD channels over Europe. Contract wins also opened positions in new markets. The first Italian DTH service from 19.2 degrees East was signed with Italian TV operator Promosat. Promosat will use capacity at SES 3 Astra’s 19.2 degrees East orbital position for the free-to-air transmission of its AB Channel. Telekom Srbija contracted capacity at 19.2 degrees East for the DTH transmission of the public TV channels RTS Sat and Radio Beograd in Serbia, broadcast free-to-air from 1 June 2011. With Telekom Srbija, SES Astra has won an important anchor customer in the Balkan region for its 19.2 degrees East orbital position.

ITV, the UK commercial broadcaster, signed an agreement renewing its existing capacity of six transponders and contracting a further three. The new capacity will support the future development of ITV’s channel offer to the UK and Ireland from 28.2 degrees East.

Romain Bausch, SES’ President, said: “In the first half, SES has continued to concentrate on the development of our business, in particular in the emerging markets, and on the commercialisation of the new capacity that is to be launched on the 11 satellites in our current investment programme. The new SES-3 satellite that was successfully launched earlier this month and the other five satellites that are to be launched in the second half will allow us to bring substantial new capacity to our customers and therefore support our future growth. The organisational changes that were announced during the period are an additional support to focus on that development and growth.”

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