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Premiere to Launch Three German HD Channels Via Astra

While several major pay-TV operators in Europe have announced plans to start an array of HD channels via the Astra satellite system in the next year, Premiere will be first out of the gate with its new premium package, "Premiere HD," the company reports. An HD trailer is now airing on Astra's special HD demonstration channel for German consumers.

The HD package from Premiere will feature three 24-hour channels that will primarily air motion pictures, sports and documentaries (as well as 64 games of the World Cup next summer). The HD demo channel is being made available for retail outlets (12.4410 GHz; vertical, SR 27.5; FEC 3/4) throughout Europe.

The official German launch of Premiere HD programs via Astra is scheduled for November. Premiere's set-top boxes should be on the market soon, and will be equipped to work with new compression standard MPEG 4/H.264 and DVB-S2. Premiere says it will feed 720p and 1080i in both 50 Hz and 60 Hz.

According to a recent survey, about 15 percent of all German relevant retailers are actively showing HD demos in their outlets, according to Premier. Astra has also installed about 500 HD presentation islands at retailers, in cooperation with various marketing partners.