The Venezuelan Government has launched a direct-to-home (DTH) pay-TV service that will look to take some of the market leading position enjoyed by DirecTV in the country away from the American operator.
Deployed by stated-owned telecommunications company Cantv, the service is already available throughout the country, although points of sale are still limited to a few cities. The programming line-up will initially include 42 channels and the four radio stations currently broadcast by Radio Nacional de Venezuela.
Cantv Televisión Satelital, as the service has been branded, is being commercialised as a single bouquet. It has an installation fee of 250 Bs.F. (US$58) and its monthly cost is 85 Bs.F. (US$20).
The company claims this is a "highly competitive" price. By comparison, DirecTV's most economical package retails in Venezuela for 40 Bs.F (US$9) a month, although it only offer 22 channels. The following package from DirecTV (offering 57 channels) retails for 124 Bs.F. (US$29) a month, while the American operator's most sophisticated option costs twice as much.
The Venezuelan government's debut on the pay-TV arena also marks the first Latin American state-owned communications company to effectively become a quadruple-play operator. Cantv was already offering fixed-line telephony, mobile telephony and broadband connectivity.
The new DTH service uses transponder capacity on the state-owned Simón Bolívar satellite, launched three years ago from China.
According to the minister for Science and Technology of Venezuela, Jorge Arreaza, Cantv is holding talks with TV production houses from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and some European countries to try to boost the number of channels available on its brand new platform.