Thirty years ago, satellite dishes began to appear for the first time on the facades of buildings in Poland. They were one of the harbingers of historical changes of that time. All of them were aimed at one point in the sky – the 19.2oE orbital position from which the ASTRA 1A satellite signal was transmitted. Today, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of this moment, which marked the start of the satellite television era in Poland.
Warsaw, 13 March 2019 – the year 1989 was a breakthrough year in Poland in the field of technology. For the television industry, it was the beginning of satellite TV in Poland.
In February 1989, the ASTRA 1A satellite operated by the world’s leading satellite operator, SES, began its mission. The first of SES’s satellites, ASTRA 1A was launched into orbit by the Ariane 4 rocket from French Guiana. The satellite was placed at the orbital position of 19.2°E. Once there, it provided television service across Western and Central Europe, including Poland. This meant that for the first time Poles were able to receive a satellite signal, making television service more accessible for everyone in the country. Initially, ASTRA 1A broadcast FilmNet, Sky TV, Scandinavian TV3, and MTV Europe. By the end of the year, many German channels, such as RTL plus, Sat.1 and Pro7 occupied space on the satellite. In June 1990, all transponders were filled. The enormous popularity of satellite television at that time was reflected by its reach, which amounted to 17 million households in Europe by 1990.
ASTRA satellite TV opened a window to the world for viewers in Poland. Poles now had access to programmes on foreign channels, while within the country, the monopoly of state television was broken only a year later. The first nationwide private television network was created three years later – in 1992. To this day, many people recall the symbolic change, which was the installation of the first satellite dish on the facade of the building.
THIRTY YEARS IN POLAND
The beginning of the ASTRA 1A satellite broadcasting is associated with Astra CEE, today the provider of TV channels as well as radio stations, the Internet and multimedia services via a satellite system. Currently, viewers in Poland can receive up to about 500 FTA channels, including 80 in HD quality from the SES’s ASTRA satellites.
Martin Ornass-Kubacki, President of Astra CEE: „This year, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of satellite TV and Astra in Poland. Over the years, broadcasting technologies have diversified, leading to, for example, OTT TV. However, satellite broadcasting has its undeniable advantages, such as independence from geographical conditions, natural disasters, terrorist attacks or political problems, as well as reliability, since connection to terrestrial infrastructure is unnecessary. Above all, however, it is the satellite that provides unlimited signal or content transmission today regardless of its weight. That’s why a satellite works great when broadcasting content in the original 4K resolution. What’s more, transmissions at 8K have already been made from ASTRA 3B, which points to its readiness to broadcast programmes of even higher quality. Modern satellites allow you to send thousands of gigabytes of data per second, and can be adapted to different uses. “
Thanks to the first ASTRA satellites, the beginning of the satellite television era in Poland 30 years ago became a technological revolution in the Polish television industry. Now, 30 years later, satellites are still among the leaders when it comes to broadcasting video content, especially in view of the growing demand for high quality content and services.