First Baltic Music Channel launched on SIRIUS

14 Feb, 2005

PRESS RELEASE: First Baltic Channel has launched a new music channel for the three Baltic countries – First Baltic Music Channel – FBMC. The channel broadcasts programming such as music videos and top hits 24 hours a day. Interactive features such as SMS voting and internet services make the channel the hottest music platform in the Baltic countries today.

First Baltic Channel (FBC) has had three satellite channels in the Baltic countries, individually tailored with news, advertising and subtitles for each country. As of 1 February FBC has supplemented its programming with a pure music channel, which in addition to broadcasting music videos, hit lists, and artist promotions 24 hours a day, also has a large interactive element. Viewers can send text messages and vote for their favorites and even arrange personal play lists of favorites online.

First Baltic Music Channel - FBMC

The new channel, First Baltic Music Channel (FBMC) is expected to win the interest of young viewers, thanks to the hottest new music and the interactive possibilities. Since viewers can influence the selection and vote for different hit lists, the channel becomes an up-to-date reflection of the music to which young people in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania want to listen. The programs are essentially the same for all three countries, but differ in advertising and subtitling.

FBMC is distributed via the Baltic and Nordic Region's own satellite system, SIRIUS, to cable networks and to households that have set up their own satellite dish. For these households the channel is part of Viasat's basic selection. Viewers need a satellite receiver and a program code to receive the channel.

FBMC “hitchhikes” using smart technology

The new channel could only be launched with the help of new technology. FBC worked together with Nordic Satellite AB – NSAB, the company behind the SIRIUS satellite system – to find a solution in which the new channel receives just as high an image quality as the other three FBC channels by combining extremely narrow bandwidth with unused capacity in the three existing channels. The unused capacity from the three channels can be used to cover the bandwidth need for the new channel. Technical Director Andrey Malinovsky is satisfied with the solution and says:

“We’ve been able to use this technology to save broadcasting costs. Over the past few months we’ve carried out thorough testing and the results are brilliant. The quality is just as good for all four channels in our selection, but we have essentially saved the entire transmission cost for a whole channel.

Valery Pudnik, Chief engineer at NSAB Teleport in Riga, Latvia, explains the technology, which is called statistical multiplexing:

“The technology that makes this possible works like this: when you broadcast three channels, they are gathered in a common signal on the way up to the satellite, while increasing the signal's speed. For example, if each channel requires 4.5 Mbps, the common signal up to the satellite would be 13.5 Mbps. But it is not all information that is sent, only the difference between each screen (and associated audio). He says:

“In the next step the system continuously senses how much information each channel needs. Unused capacity is lent out and you have to constantly borrow from one of the three channels in order to meet the needs of the fourth channel's capacity. This allows you to run FBMC with full quality with an additional capacity of only 0.5 Mbps.

For further information, please contact:

Charlotta Ridderstråle, Sales Manager, Nordic Satellite AB (NSAB)
Tel +46 8 505 645 59

Valery Pudnik, Chief Engineer, Nordic Satellite AB (NSAB) Teleport Riga
Tel +371 720 09 47

Andrey Malinovsky, Technical Director, First Baltic Channel, FBC
Tel: +371 731 10 04