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06.04.2013 15:45

Satellite Channels Should not Limit Choice, Interview with Chris Forrester

Digital Broadcasting

On the first anniversary of the satellite television MagtiSat Chris Forrester, a British journalist with a unique knowledge of the satellite industry arrived in Georgia following the invitation by Magti partner SES satellite provider. At the press conference held in Tbilisi Chris Forrester presented the audience an exciting new book which takes a holistic view at the future of satellite broadcasting. Chris, together with other experts, discusses the future of media industry and modern technologies and prophesies the media world 25 years from now.

Granting an interview to the Mudmivi (ad infinitum) magazine the writer evaluated the development of satellite broadcasting in Georgiaand the trends of up-to-date television. 

- As an expert in broadcasting you are well aware of the way of development of famous television in different countries. Following a visit to Georgia how would you assess the degree of the development of television in the country compared with the rest of the countries, let’s say Great Britain?

Pay TV operators have got one thing in common – they offer viewers exclusive content. In the main that’s the collection of sports, movies and entertainment programs. For the markets similar to Georgian the main difficulty is to convince hundreds of thousands of viewers that have satellite dishes and can watch channels free of charge.

Georgia is not the only country facing this kind of dilemma. A number of countries, such as Germany for instance (where the majority of population used to be cable TV subscribers and had a possibility to have access to 40-50 channels for free) is now switching to pay TV service. Pay TV prospective in Germany is immense. The Netherlands as well has fully switched to Pay TV. For now the number of Pay TV subscribers topped one million and that’s due to exclusive content. The same happened in the United States where cable TV was holding dominant position and now approximately 27 mln households are subscribed to satellite Pay TV service.

The Great Britain market is different since BskyB (British satellite broadcasting, broadband and telephone services company) has been on the market for 20 years now and within this period the company managed to take up a strong position. Along with television BskyB offers its subscriber broadband and telephone services. It’s a resounding success and especially under the circumstances of tough competition with BBC as a second player on the market.

- What do you think how is Georgia to develop TV services in a rapid manner? What role does satellite play in it?

Satellite in every success story plays a key role. From my viewpoint satellite should not limit the choice of channels and similar to specialized channels it is to embrace so called ethnic channels. The transmission quality is also very important. HD TV is to play a crucial role too and especially when watching movies and sports programs.

- Up-to-date television offers subscribers additional services. From your viewpoint which of them is going to stay on the market and which are likely to disappear? What do you think does competition on the market of new technologies depend on the country/culture or there are some universal rules to identify “useful” and “useless” ones?

Set-top box is no longer needed to connect satellite with television. They can offer subscribers VCR and EPG. The latter plays a crucial role so that viewers could enjoy maximum benefit.

- Do you agree with the idea that television will be substituted by internet?

Watching a program online requires immense patience since transmission constantly buffers and besides you always have to search for the desired material. Buffering is not that visible with fewer viewers online and higher internet speed 50-100 mbps. Another limitation would be the availability of the desired material online.

- Three words that describe the television should be like today.

My three words that best describes satellite television is: quality, quality and quality! Transmission quality, best quality of the choice of channels and EPG convenience quality.

- Please describe in brief the role of SES in TV broadcasting history and it’s role in today’s life.

SES used to be the pioneer that used satellite for television. In late 1998 following the launch of one of the satellites the company became one of the biggest satellite operators worldwide. Today it prevails over the rest in terms of the number of viewers and channels. SES was the first satellite provider having launched HDTV and it is now going to the following stage of broadcasting such as Ultra HDTV.


The article was published in the Mudmivi magazine

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