Astro (satellite TV)

Infobox Network
network_name = Astro
country = flagicon|Malaysia Malaysia
network_type = Private satellite television
available = National
key_people = Dato' Badri Masri
Dato' Mohamed Khadar Merican
Ralph Marshall
Tan Poh Ching
Bernard Anthony Cragg
Chin Kwai Yoong|
launch_date = 1996
founder =
motto = Making your life richer (2003 – Present) The future is Direct-To-U (1996 – 2003)
past_names = _zh. 寰宇电视 (zh-p|Huányǔ diàn shì) in Chinese, now simply known as "Astro"
website = []

Astro is a subscription-based direct broadcast satellite (DBS) or "direct-to-home" satellite television and radio service initially in Malaysia, but has expanded to 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.

General Information

The service was launched in 1996 following the launch of the MEASAT-1 satellite with an initial bouquet of 22 television and 8 radio channels. Currently, the service consists of 80 television, 17 radio, and 4 pay-per-view channels plus various interactive services. Astro's own news channel, Astro News, carries programming from the news channel Al Jazeera, available in dual language, Arabic and Malay, as well as the Australia Network (although rumours, now going on for several years, have had a full time slot for Australia Network "coming soon"). It also airs Astro News, a half-hour locally produced news program.

Until February 2007, Astro News was co-produced with the national news agency BERNAMA, with the former taking 12 minutes of the programme for general, The news is also translated into Mandarin on Astro AEC, Malay on Astro RIA and Tamil on Astro Vaanavil. In February 2007, BERNAMA took over the full half-hour production pending a revamp of the internal news team at Astro.

Astro has previously announced that it would introduce 50 new channels with the launch of the MEASAT-3 satellite. However, the satellite and problems with the launch vehicle has pushed back the launch of the satellite from mid-2005 to December 12, 2006.

From May 2007, Astro added another 9 channels into its line-up. The nine channels that were announced are Jia Yu Channel, Discovery Science, Discovery Real Time, Discovery Home & Health, E! Entertainment, Astro Vellithirai,Sun Music, Eurosport and The Golf Channel. Jia Yu Channel, Discovery Science and Discovery Real Time were already added into Astro's line-up on April 26, 2007. The other six channels became available from May 1, 2007 onwards. These nine channels will be available for free until November 15, 2007. After that, these channels will be available in their respective packages. Another two channels, which are The History Channel and the Crime & Investigation Network, had joined the Astro platform on June 15, 2007.

In June 2007, Astro introduced Astro On Demand, a new channel featuring the latest TVB dramas from Hong Kong on 6 channels. On July 1, 2007 onwards, Astro On-Demand preview was introduced, and it is entirely devoted to telling the Astro subscribers about this new channel. Prior to July 1, 2007, all dramas that were on broadcast on Channel 910 - 916 (now moved to Channel 931 - 937) were free. After that, in July 2007, the introductory price for shows on Astro-On Demand was set at RM 0.99 per episode, for Dynasty Package subscribers, and RM 1.49 per episode, for those who are not. A total of 31 channels have been allocated for this new service. [Astro. [ Astro On-Demand microsite] . Retrieved July 19 2006.]

On September 6, 2007, Astro Awani, a new in-house Malay language entertainment, variety and news channel, was added into the Astro platform. On October 13, 2007, Astro added seven new channels into its repertoire, namely the Asian Food Channel, Astro Hua Hee Dai, Astro Oasis, Astro Xiao Tai Yang, Chutti TV, KBS World and Makkal TV. This increased the number of television channels on Astro to 80.

ervice and Technical Information

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

Astro's broadcast signals are DVB-S compliant and compressed using MPEG-2 standards (also used in DVD Video). It is currently, however, broadcasting in SDTV 576iFact|date=August 2007 at a 4:3 aspect ratio, and its audio signals are in Dolby Digital Stereo the signals are also encoded and encrypted prior to transmission, creating a conditional access subscriber service that allows access only to subscribers with a decoder and authorized smartcard.


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

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.

Currently, as of 2008, there is no service fee for the use of the Astro MAX system.

Packages / Subscription

The Astro service uses the package pricing model commonly used by other pay-TV operators in which channels are grouped into packages (i.e. and premium) made available to subscribers at a monthly fee.

Since November 15, 2007 onwards, there has been a slight alteration to the packages and prices. The Family Package, which is the lowest entry level, offers a fee of RM37.95 (excluding all the mini packages, Sports Packages & Super Packages). Subscribers who pay this amount will only enjoy channels grouped under Astro Family banner that offers 30 channels, including six free-to-air terrestrial television networks, in-house vernacular channels and some international networks. All subscribers also receive these channels at a different rate, depending on what packages they subscribed to.

The basic packages (also known as mini packages) are categorised into four groups known as Variety (Entertainment channels such as MTV and E!), Learning (Educational and documentary-related channels such as Discovery Channel), Fun (Children's channels such as Nickelodeon) and News. The sports package, which was initially a mini package, is now offered separately.

Premium packages (known as Super Packages) include the Movie and Dynasty (Chinese language channels) packages. They are offered at a higher rate than the other available package.

Also, since November 15, 2007, four new packages, collectively known as the Plus Packages, were introduced to Astro. The four new packages include the Metro Package (such as Discovery Home & Health and BBC Entertainment), the Maharaja Package (Tamil language channels), the Gold Package and the New Emperor Package (both are Chinese language packages). The Gold Package and New Emperor Package provide more Chinese language channels ranging from TV series, movies, news, lifestyle, kids, to even Hokkien and Hakka dialect programming. Subscribers cannot select both the Gold Package and the New Emperor Package together as the four channels in the Gold Package are available within the New Emperor Package as well. [Astro. [ Packages available and their prices on Astro.] Retrieved October 16 2007]

A separate monthly subscription to Astro's PlayJam gaming channel allows the viewers full access to the games in that channel. Day passes can also be obtained through SMS valid for 24 hours from the time the pass is issued and must be manually renewed.

Channel line-up

Programme Classifications

At present, there are two classifications on Astro. They are:

*U - For general viewing, suitable to viewing audiences of all ages.
*18 - For viewing audiences for audiences age 18 and above only.

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.

In May 2005, Astro launched, 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.


As at January 2007, the service has 2.016 million residential subscribers, which represents 36.5% of Malaysian homes owning a television set. [ [ untitled ] ] The 2006 Nielsen Media Index found that Astro Wah Lai Toi (Channel 311) and Astro Ria (Channel 104) are the highest viewed satellite (non free to air) channels, with each viewed by 28 percent of the adult Malaysian population.Fact|date=December 2007 Astro reportedly controls 29% of the Malaysian television viewing market, ahead of Radio Television Malaysia at 17%, but behind Media Prima at 54%. [cite news | first=Anil | last=Netto | coauthors= | title=Malaysian media giant grasps for Internet | date=2007-11-30 | publisher=Malaysia Today | url = | work =Asia Times Online | pages = | accessdate = 2007-12-07 | language = ]

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:

Ownership & Management

The operators of the Astro service, MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems, are a wholly 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

Key Personnel

* Ralph Marshall, Deputy Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
* Rohana Rozhan, Chief Executive Officer (Astro television)
* Grant Ferguson, Chief Financial Officer
* Graham Stephens, Chief Technology Officer
* Su Termanah, Chief Information Officer
* Claire Mula, General Manager, Multimedia Interactive Technologies
* Robert Odendaal, Group Chief Executive Officer (appointed 1st Feb 2007, resigned as of 31st March 2008)
* David Butorac, Group Chief Operating Officer (Left to join Star TV in November 2006)

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 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.


ee also

*Astro Indonesia (Astro Nusantara)
*List of Malaysian television stations
*Mega TV (non-operational since 2001)
*MiTV (non-operational since 31 October 2006)
*Fine TV


External links

* [ Astro's official website]
* [ Astro All Asia Networks plc's official website]
* [ Astro's Indonesia service website]
* [ Astro All Asia Networks plc Annual Report FY2006]

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