This weekend sees Paris-based Eutelsat celebrate 30 years in space. Thirty years ago the operator launched Eutelsat 1-F1, as the first satellite of a system designed to support communications across Europe. It heralded the start of satellite TV by beaming the first television channels to cable networks in continental Europe and to a nascent group of users who demonstrated the potential of Direct-to-Home reception. A new era for multi-channel viewing across Europe had begun.
Eutelsat at that time was a ‘non-governmental organisation’, owned by its member telcos, generally the telephone operators in its member nations. That changed with privatisation in July 2001, permitting its members to take some profits. Eutelsat mounted its IPO in July 2005.
But perhaps its greatest success was the creation of the Hot Bird fleet, which expanded Eutelsat’s core offering to become the major competitor to Astra in Europe and a dominant player in some key markets.
A key player through many of these developments, first as Commercial Director, then Director General and the operator’s first CEO was Giuliano Berretta. By common consent it is accepted that a Eutelsat without Mr Berretta’s input would be a very different organisation today.
Michel de Rosen, Berretta’s successor, has inherited and expanded the company to the position where it is a world player, Number 3 in size, and still growing.