According to the article (which dates from July 2008), the merging discussions are going on and things will become clearer in September i.e. this month. This means that Parabole Réunion and Canal Sat Réunion might announce in a few weeks that they’ll have a combined satellite offer.
I’ve done a bit of research and I’ve found out that, in Réunion, Outremer-Télécom has started offering via ADSL a number of channels which are normally available through TNT in France. I’ve also read that one member of the CSA has said that TNT will be available throughout Réunion by 2010 at latest. I’m talking of the French TNT here with such channels as TF1, France2, France3, Canal+, Canal+ Cinema, Canal+ Sport, M6, TF6, W9, i Télé, Virgin 17, TPS Star and Eurosport. No wonder Parabole Réunion and Canal Sat Réunion are eager to merge with the sudden arrival of such formidable competitors.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that the same thing will happen in Mauritius between Parabole Maurice and Canal Sat Maurice. Here, we won’t have the French TNT channels (we do have TNT but nothing comparable with what is available in France.) So there is less pressure on Parabole Maurice and Canal Sat Maurice to merge.
Economy of scale?
But, I believe that if Parabole Réunion and Canal Sat Réunion merge then the same will have to happen here eventually. The reason is that there is only one satellite (Eutelsat W2) which broadcast TV signals to Mauritius, Réunion, Madagascar, Mayotte and Comoros. It would be costly to continue broadcasting Parabole and Canal Sat signals separately over Mauritius while people in Reunion get their own distinct combined signal. The market here is simply too small to justify the cost. According to some statistics, about 5-10% of Mauritian households have a satellite subscription and this is small compared to the situation in Reunion where 50% of the households have satellite TV (and I don’t think that percentage will grow a lot here because of the price of a satellite TV subscription.)
So there is a distinct possibility that we, Mauritians, will have a combined TPS (Parabole) / Canal Sat offer in a few months. Now, this might seem a step backwards as we’ll essentially have less choice. But there is one big consequence of all this merging which is…
Plasma and LCD high-definition TVs are relatively common now in Mauritius. They are getting cheaper and cheaper and I can forecast a lot of them being sold in December because they are so, ahem, sexy. I was speaking to a Sony sales representative and he was telling me that, for the time being, people who bought high-definition TVs were not very happy because of the lack of HD content in Mauritius (I blogged on that last year.)
It seems that people in Réunion already have two HD channels: TF1 HD and Canal+ HD. This is not yet the case in Mauritius as far as I know. If we get the same offer as in Réunion, then it’s logical we’ll get the HD channels as well… if we are prepared to pay for them of course (Both HD channels cost €7 per month in Réunion i.e. Rs. 300)
Furthermore, if you look at the channels available in Parabole Maurice and Canal Sat Maurice, you’ll notice a lot of duplication. For instance, TF1, M6, TF6, RTL9, Antenne Réunion, Tempo, Kanal Austral, LCI and Eurosport (9 channels!) are available on both. Combining both satellite offers means that there will be no need to broadcast those 9 channels twice thereby saving a lot of bandwidth… which can then be used for additional HD channels.
In 2009 at latest (and, maybe by the end of this year), we, Mauritians will get a combined Parabole / Canal Sat satellite offer with at least two HD channels (maybe more, say, Disney Cinemagic HD or National Geographic Channel HD.)
Let’s keep our fingers crossed.