The Development of Satellite Television in Western Europe


Shih-Shiu Chin


This article is going to discuss five different dimensions in satellite television of Western Europe. They are: television de regulation in Western Europe, the development of direct broadcasting satellite (DBS) in Western Europe, recently situation of the satellite television in Western Europe, questions raised by satellite television in Western Europe and the trend for satellite television in Western Europe. Because the satellite television development in Western Europe is a very special prototype, I hope to find some helpful experience for Taiwan which is interested in launching its own satellite television and making the law.

In the past, there are five patterns of regulation and deregulation in Western Europe: Already Deregulated, Dual System, Monolithic State-regulated Monopolies undergoing Dramatic Deregulation, Self -regulating Monopoly and Small Countries with Imported Deregulation. Because the procedure of deregulation opened the door for commercialization, the development of satellite television system in Western Europe has strong tendency toward privatisation. This tendency can be clearly found in the five countries which develop DBS: British, France, West Germany, Luxembourg and Sweden (Nordic countries)-especially for Luxembourg-based Astra.

However, because the footprint of satellite is big enough to cover several countries, the spillover situation is more serious than it is in America. Besides, the different standard for the content of programme, length of advertisement, import quota from America, the unfair competition for linquistic and competition between national channels and international channels all become hot issues in Western Europe.

From the experience of Western Europe, the inevitable trend for new media is commercialisation and internationalization. The national television stations not only have to face the competition from internal commercial television channels, but also to resist the pressure from external (transnational) commercial television channels. The right of free choice to audience will become a new ideology in the television market. In addition, American Culture will have potential influence for all the world. To protect small linguistic countries’ culture, such as Greece or Portugal, will be a difficult task. In the policy of Open-Sky, the culture of Western Europe maybe have the tendency of standardization.