Channel 4 is planning to launch a range of new digital TV channels as broadcasters position themselves for the anticipated switch-off of the analogue television signal in 2012, amid fears that traditional broadcasters could lose a third of their audiences after switchover.
It has signed an €80m 10-year contract digital transmission deal with Luxembourg-based SES Global, the satellite company that provides the backbone for BSkyB's Sky Digital.
This is the third deal this week between British broadcasters and SES Global. ITV and cable operator NTL have also signed deals with SES to beam more services into digital TV homes, a market that is growing, with 55% of the nation's TV households already having access to digital TV through satellite, cable or Freeview.
Channel 4 is reported to be hiring space on the Astra 2D satellite for about 14 channels. But this number will have to be determined by the extent of interactive services offered, as each of these can demand nearly as much capacity as a broadcast channel.
David Scott, the deputy chief executive of Channel 4, said the deal "will provide Channel 4 with considerable flexibility when considering the expansion and future development of our broadcast services".
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