Astro (satellite TV)

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<tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center; padding: 10px 0 10px 0;">Image:Header 01.gif</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Type</th><td>Private Satellite Television</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Country</th><td>Image:Flag of Malaysia.svgMalaysia</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Availability</th><td>National</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Motto</th><td>"Making your life richer"</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Key people</th><td>Dato'Badri Masri
Dato'Mohamed Khadar Merican
Ralph Marshall
Tan Poh Ching
Bernard Anthony Cragg
Chin Kwai Yoong</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Website</th><td>www.astro.com.my</td></tr>
Astro
Image:Astroold.JPG
Previous Astro Logo

Astro is a subscription-based direct broadcast satellite (DBS) or direct-to-home satellite television and radio service in Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. The service is broadcast from the All Asia Broadcast Centre (ABC) located in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Astro is owned by MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems, a subsidiary of Astro All Asia Networks plc.

Contents

[edit] General Information

The service was launched in 1996 following the launch of MEASAT-1 satellite on January 1996 with an initial bouquet of 22 television and 8 radio channels. Currently, the service consists of 56 television, 17 radio, and 4 pay per view channels plus various interactive services. The television service comprises five of the six Malaysian terrestrial TV networks (RTM 1, RTM 2, TV3, ntv7 and 8TV. TV9 is set to be included in the Astro once MEASAT 3 is launched [1].), a number of vernacular channels (packaged in house by ASTRO), as well as a selection of international English and Chinese language networks. Astro's own News Channel carries programming from the Arabic language news channel Al Jazeera, dubbed in Malay, as well as from Australia's ABC Asia Pacific.

Channels broadcast on the Astro service are delayed, with time varying from several seconds to an hour for the movie and music channels (i.e. Star Movies, Cinemax, Channel V and MTV), from their source feeds using a digital server system. This delay is used to edit programming to comply with the governmental guidelines on foreign and unsuitable content, as well as to facilitate commercial replacement, as local laws prohibit the broadcast of commercials produced overseas.

On August 11, 2006, Astro announced the launch of seven new channels, which would start broadcasting from August 31. They include three Astro branded channels packaged in-house (Ceria, Aruna & Kirana), two Chinese language channels (WaTV & CCTV4), a Hindi channel (ZEE TV) and 24-hour anime channel (Animax). These channels are available at no additional charge to existing subscribers until February 28, 2007. New subscribers who sign-up after September 30, 2006 will be subject to channel package fees.

Astro has previously announced that it would introduce 50 new channels with the launch of the MEASAT-3 satellite. However, delays affecting the manufacture of the satellite and problems with the launch vehicle has pushed back the launch of the satellite from mid-2005 to an expected launch date on December 12, 2006. Details on what new channels will be launched have not been released by the company, however this service expansion is scheduled to occur about eight weeks after the launch of MEASAT-3. A channel repackaging exercise is also scheduled soon after the expansion occurs [2].

[edit] Service & Technical Information

The direct-to-home service, branded as Direct-to-U (DTU), is broadcast as high-power Ku-band transmissions utilising the transponders of the MEASAT satellite system. Reception of the service signals uses a fixed 60cm diameter dish antenna.

Although Ku-band signals can be affected by rain attenuation (rain fade), making it susceptible to frequent outages in heavy rainfall areas such as Malaysia, the operators of Astro have employed a tailor-made system to boost power of the satellite delivery system to overcome this problem. The advertised service availability of 99.7%, however, is still a topic of much debate by subscribers.

The Astro broadcast signals are DVB-S compliant and compressed using the MPEG-2 standards. The signals are also encoded and encrypted prior to transmission forming a conditional access subscriber service, allowing access only to subscribers with a decoder and authorised smartcard.

The Astro service uses the package pricing model commonly used by other pay-TV operators in which channels are grouped into packages (i.e. basic and premium) made available to subscribers at a monthly fee. The basic packages are categorized into five groups: Learning (documentaries), Fun (kids & cartoons), Variety, Sports and News. Premium packages include Movies, Dynasty (Chinese language) and Emperor (Chinese language). Subscribers are required to select a minimum of 3 basic packages. All subscribers also receive 20 channels, grouped under the Astro Family banner, that includes five of the six local free-to-air terrestrial television networks (it is expected that the sixth free-to-air channel, TV9, will be added soon), in-house vernacular channels and some international networks. Subscribers also are able to access all the radio channels at no extra charge.

[edit] Receiver/Decoder

Since its launch, Astro has introduced 3 generations of receiver/decoders.

Generation Manufacturer
1st generation / launch product Philips
2nd generation Philips
Nokia
3rd generation Thomson
Nokia

[edit] Digital Video Recorder

In July 2006, Astro announced the Astro Max system, a new Astro receiver/decoder integrated with a digital video recorder. This decoder will enable Astro subscribers to record up to 60 hours of programming on a 80GB hard disk. The system records programming without converting the MPEG-2 digital satellite stream, as such the recorded video is the same high quality as the broadcast feed. Inclusion of 2 tuners enables the recording of one programme, while viewing another. However, the system is not able to record two channels/programmes at the same time.

Astro MAX includes standard features found on digital video recorders such as pausing, rewinding and replaying "live" TV as well as a 30 second skip. The unit also has a 30 minute buffer which constantly records the currently watched program. Full integration with Astro's electronic programme guide enables easy selection of programmes to be recorded. Additional features include the ability to record all audio tracks and all subtitle tracks on multiple language programming. Copies of programmes recorded can also be transferred to DVD or VHS tape.

At present there is no service fee for the use of the Astro MAX system.

[edit] Channel line-up (Malaysia)

[edit] ASTRO FAMILY (General)

  • Channel 1 - RTM1 <ref name="fta">Also available as free-to-air terrestrial broadcasts by the respective networks</ref>
  • Channel 2 - RTM2 <ref name="fta" />
  • Channel 3 - TV3 <ref name="fta" />
  • Channel 4 - Astro Ria
  • Channel 5 - Arab Radio & Television Variety (ART)
  • Channel 6 - Astro Vaanavil
  • Channel 7 - NTV7 <ref name="fta" />
  • Channel 8 - Astro Prima (varied language - with malay subtitle)
  • Channel 9 - Astro Aruna
  • Channel 10 - Hallmark Channel
  • Channel 11 - Discovery Travel & Living
  • Channel 12 - Bloomberg Television
  • Channel 13 - TV Pendidikan
  • Channel 14 - Astro TVIQ
  • Channel 15 - Astro@15 (Chat Channel)
  • Channel 16 - Astro Hitz.TV
  • Channel 17 - AXN
  • Channel 18 - 8TV <ref name="fta" />
  • Channel 19 - Astro AEC
  • Channel 73 - Sun TV

[edit] ASTRO BOX OFFICE (PPV Channels)

  • Channel 20 - Astro Box Office Movies
  • Channel 21 - Astro Box Office Movies
  • Channel 22 - Astro Box Office Sport / Events
  • Channel 23 - Astro Box Office Sport / Events

[edit] DYNASTY PACKAGE (Chinese Language Channels)

  • Channel 30 - Astro Wah Lai Toi (dual language - Cantonese/Mandarin for selected programmes)
  • Channel 31 - TVBS Asia
  • Channel 32 - Phoenix
  • Channel 33 - TVB8
  • Channel 34 - TVB Xing He (dual language - Mandarin/Cantonese for selected programmes)
  • Channel 35 - NHK World (dual language - Japanese/English for selected programmes)
  • Channel 36 - CCTV-9 (English News directly from China)

[edit] EMPEROR PACKAGE (Premium Chinese Channels)

[edit] MOVIE PACKAGE

[edit] LEARNING PACKAGE (Documentaries)

[edit] FUN PACKAGE (Kids & Cartoons)

[edit] VARIETY PACKAGE

  • Channel 70 - STAR World
  • Channel 71 - MTV
  • Channel 72 - Channel V
  • Channel 74 - Zee TV (Hindi language channel with Malay subtitle)
  • Channel 75 - Animax (dual language - Japanese/English with Malay subtitle)

[edit] SPORTS PACKAGE

  • Channel 80 - Astro Super Sport
  • Channel 81 - ESPN (dual language - English/Mandarin for selected programmes)
  • Channel 82 - STAR Sports (dual language - English/Cantonese for selected programmes)

[edit] NEWS PACKAGE

[edit] RADIO CHANNELS

  • Channel 100 - Radio Mosaic
  • Channel 101 - ERA (Malay)
  • Channel 102 - MY (Chinese)
  • Channel 103 - Opus (English)
  • Channel 104 - hitz.fm (English)
  • Channel 105 - Mix.Fm (English)
  • Channel 106 - LiteFM (Formerly Light & Easy) (English)
  • Channel 107 - Classic Rock (English)
  • Channel 108 - Golden Oldies (English)
  • Channel 109 - Nostalgia (English)
  • Channel 110 - India Beat (Hindi)
  • Channel 111 - Jazz (English)
  • Channel 112 - Melody (Chinese)
  • Channel 113 - Sinar.Fm (Malay)
  • Channel 114 - Osai (Tamil)
  • Channel 115 - XFresh.Fm (Malay)
  • Channel 116 - Musiq'a (Arabic)
  • Channel 117 - Thr.fm (Hindi/Tamil)

[edit] INTERACTIVE SERVICES

  • Channel 200 - Games
  • Channel 800 - Interactive TV (features MyKad reader & TV coupons)
  • Channel 888 - Astro Stock Link
  • Channel 998 - Astro Box Office (Astro Max decoders only)
  • Channel 999 - My MAX (exclusive to Astro Max decoders)

<references/>

[edit] Broadband & Internet based Services

At the end of 1999, Astro's operator MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems announced a proposal to provide high-speed satellite-delivered Internet access services. The service, called @stronet-JARING, was to be a one-way terrestrial return system, whereby Malaysian ISP Jaring would provide the outbound data service through dial-up access. Downloads would be received via the MEASAT satellite system, which promised a maximum download speed of 6.5Mbit/s. A PC-based trial was performed in early 2000 with a maximum download speed of 400kbit/s. Other proposed services included Multicast File Transfer and Multicast Streaming Delivery. The service, however, has never been made available publicly. (Ade, Depok)

In May 2005, Astro launched Astro.tv, a broadband TV portal. It currently has two video channels: Akademi Fantasia Xtra and GOALTV. The service requires a separate subscription fee charged to the subscribers mobile phone bill.

[edit] Viewership

As at July 2006, the service has 1.91 million residential subscribers, which represents 35.4% of Malaysian homes owning a television set.

The 2006 Nielsen Media Index found that Astro Wah Lai Toi (Channel 30) and Astro Ria (Channel 4) are the highest viewed satellite (non free to air) channels, with each viewed by 28 percent of the adult Malaysian population.

[edit] Red Button Feature

During high-profile events, Astro adds a Red-Button interactive feature to some channels to provide a link to several different feeds from the event, thereby enabling viewers to select between events or sporting matches that may be taking place simultaneously. The Red Button feature is also used to provide interactive services such as programming updates, event news, scores, contest information and sponsor advertising. The service is accessible by pressing the Red Button on the set-top box's remote control when prompted by a "Press Red Button" logo on-screen.

The Red Button service was first used in June 2004 to provide enhanced services for the program Akademi Fantasia, the localized version of Mexico's La Academia.

Other multi-feed/channel events using the Red Button feature:

Event No of feeds / channels Broadcast channel
2006 Winter Olympics 3 Astro Supersport (Channel 80)
2006 Commonwealth Games 3 Astro Supersport (Channel 80)
2004 Summer Olympics 6 Astro Supersport (Channel 80)
2006 FIFA World Cup 8 Astro Supersport (Channel 83)
2006 Asian Games 4 Astro Supersport (Channel 83)

[edit] Ownership & Management

The operators of the Astro service, MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems, are a wholely owned subsidiary of Astro All Asia Networks plc, a consortium company comprising of government-linked and private companies. Major shareholders include the Usaha Tegas Group (42.7%) and Khazanah Nasional Berhad (21.6%). Astro was listed on Bursa Malaysia in October 2003

[edit] Key Personnel

  • Ralph Marshall, Group Chief Executive Officer
  • David Butorac, Group Chief Operating Officer (Will be leaving to join Star TV in November 2006)
  • Rohana Rozhan, Chief Executive Officer (Astro television)
  • Grant Ferguson, Chief Financial Officer
  • Graham Stephens, Chief Technology Officer
  • Poon Sew Chin, Chief Information Officer

[edit] International Operations

The Astro service is currently also available in Brunei under the brand KRISTAL-ASTRO. Launched in January 2000, the Brunei operations are a joint venture between Brunei company Kristal (51.1%) and Measat Broadcast Network Systems (48.9%). That service comprises of 33 DTH television and radio channels.

A joint venture company, PT Direct Vision, in which Astro will hold a 20% stake, operates the Astro service in Indonesia. 48 channels including 5 locally produced Indonesia exclusive channels were launched under the Astro brand.

[edit] Channel Line up (Indonesia)

[edit] Paket Citta (Basic Channels)

Kanak-Kanak (Children)

Ilmu Pengetahuan (Documentaries)

Berita (News)

Hiburan (Entertainment)

Muzik (Music)

Filem (Movies)

  • Channel 60 - Astro Kirana
  • Channel 61 - Celestial Movies

Terestrial (Terrestrial Channels)

[edit] Paket Arena (Sports Package)

Astro SuperSport, ESPN, Star Sports

[edit] Paket Dinasti (Chinese Language Channels)

Astro Wah Lai Toi, Astro Shuang Xing, CCTV 4, Phoenix, TVB Xing He, WA-TV.

[edit] Paket Sinema (Movies Package)

Cinemax, HBO Asia, Star Movies.

[edit] References

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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