Since 1995, more satellites have been launched, more free-to-air channels have become available and
prices have dropped, hence our revitalised interest in the subject. And all
this in the face of Pay TV which continues to have mixed success in
One of the significant technological improvements that has had
a major affect on home satellite systems is the introduction of MPEG
broadcasting. This is a form of digital compression that allows a huge
improvement in the efficient use of the satellite spectrum.
As more channels can now be transmitted within a fixed
bandwidth, the operating cost to broadcasters has decreased, making
international satellite broadcasts an economical alternative to shortwave
More powerful satellites now cover larger populated areas of
the Earth than ever before, translating into a huge audience for
The good news isn't restricted to broadcasters. Consumers
benefit from the mass production of digital satellite receivers, capable of
producing high quality video and audio signals, at similar cost to an analog
receiver a few years ago.
Depending upon your (earthly!) location, there are between
eight and twelve satellites visible from Australia. These satellites carry
around 200 channels of international programming.
While many of these are broadcast in the language of the
country of origin (which is a great source for learning a language), there are
enough English language channels to provide a great source of international
news, documentaries and general entertainment.