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Astro (Malaysian satellite television)

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Astro (Malaysian satellite television)

Astro Malaysia Holdings Berhad
Type Subsidiary
Industry Broadcasting, media
Founded 1 June 1996
Headquarters All Asia Broadcast Centre, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur
Key people Tun Dato' Zaki Bin Tun Azmi
Dato' Mohamed Khadar Merican
Ralph Marshall
Bernard Anthony Cragg
Chin Kwai Yoong
Dato' Rohana Rozhan
Products Direct broadcast satellite
Mobile TV
Internet TV
Parent Astro Holdings Sdn Bhd

Astro is a trademark of Malaysian direct broadcast satellite (DBS) Pay TV service owned and operated by MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems, a subsidiary of Astro Malaysia Holdings. It transmits digital satellite television and radio to households in Malaysia and Brunei. Astro is an acronym for All-Asian Satellite Television and Radio Operator.

Astro operates from its main terminal in All Asia Broadcast Centre located in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Astro launched the first High Definition (HD) broadcast in Malaysia in December 2009 under the brand Astro B.yond. Following the launch of HD, Astro B.yond PVR (Personal Video Recorder) was introduced in June 2010 and Astro B.yond IPTV in April 2011 followed by Over-The-Top service, Astro on the Go in 2012.

On 18 February 2012, Astro introduced NJOI as an entry-level DTH satellite TV service. It is the first non-subscription based satellite TV, offering 22 TV and 20 radio channels.


In January 1996, Astro was officially formerly known as "Philips ASTRO" it was officially launched by the digital video broadcasting – satellite form of the programme for general used 4-satellite channel used translated into English on Saluran 20 (now Astro SuperSport), Malay on Saluran 1 (now Astro Ria), Cantonese on Saluran 60 (now Astro Wah Lai Toi) and Tamil on Saluran 2 (now Astro Vaanavil) with an initial bouquet of 22-digital television and 3-digital radio was backed by Philips Electronics as Holland digital technology by the digital electronics.

On 1 January 2003, Astro Showcase was launched as a free-to-view channel showcasing Southeast Asian movies. The following year, Season Pass was launched, showing games and other sporting events. These two have now became pay-per-view channels under the Astro Box Office name and new logo was launched, the uppercase 'Philips ASTRO' was changed to the lowercase 'astro'.

On 1 November 2006, 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 Chinese on Astro Asian Entertainment Channel, Malay on Astro Ria and Tamil on Astro Vaanavil.

On 1 January 2007, Bernama took over the full half-hour production pending a revamp of the internal news team at Astro in which Astro Awani was launched on 1 April 2007.

On 1 April 2007, Astro added another 9-satellite television channels into its line-up. The nine channels that were announced were Jia Yu Channel, Discovery Science, Discovery Real Time, Discovery Home & Health, E! Entertainment, Astro Vellithirai, Sun Music, Eurosport and The Golf Channel.

The 3-satellite television channels were already added into Astro's line-up on 24 April 2007.

The 6-satellite television channels became available from 1 May 2007 onward.

The 2-satellite television channels such: The History Channel and the Crime & Investigation Network joined the Astro platform on 1 June 2007.

On 1 June 2007, Astro introduced Astro On Demand, a new near-video on demand channel featuring the latest TVB dramas from Hong Kong

On 1 July 2007 onward, Astro On Demand Preview was launched and it is entirely devoted to telling the Astro subscribers about this new channel. A total of 31 satellite television channels have been allocated for this new service.

On 13 October 2007, Astro added 7 satellite television channels into its repertoire, including 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 803 satellite television channels on Astro.

On 1 December 2007, Australia Network started transmission on Astro platform.

On 1 January 2008, Bernama TV is a 24-hours in daily of Malay news channel of starts transmission on the Astro platform.

On 1 May 2009, Astro launched the Mustika Pack is a new pay television package comprising three new channels named Astro Citra, Astro Warna, and B4U. Astro Warna offers comedy; while Astro Citra is the Malay version of the HBO Asia channel providing Southeast Asian blockbuster movies, Malay premieres and Malay epic series; and B4U the latest box-office Bollywood movies and music with Malay subtitles. Astro Bella however replaced B4U in early 2012.

Astro then added a second Astro branded sports channel, Astro SuperSport 2 on 1 November 2009.

On 23 November 2009, Astro starts transmission of the first high-definition channels in Malaysia, Astro Supersport HD, ESPN HD, HBO HD, National Geographic Channel HD and HISTORY HD, followed by ESPN HD in 11 January 2010.

Granada TV was added the Astro platform on 1 December 2009 featuring many of the United Kingdom's best shows. Granada TV was subsequently renamed to ITV Granada on 1 November 2010.

On 25 March 2010, Astro Arena, the country's first local sports channel went on air. Astro Arena, a 24-hour local sports channel will be delivered predominantly in Malay and available to all Astro customers under its Family Pack.

On 1 April 2010, Astro starts transmission of TVB Classic Channel is a drama channel in Cantonese, featuring memorable and highly rated dramas from the 1970s and 1980s – all from TVB's much-coveted vault of library titles, covering varied genres such as romance, costume, action and comedy.

On 1 May 2010, Astro starts transmission of ESPNews is a sports news channel from ESPN STAR Sports showcasing the latest international and local sports news. This channel is a rolling news service featuring highlights, interviews, results and lead-up stories.

In conjunction with the launch of Astro B.yond PVR', Astro starts transmission of 3-new high-definition channels such: AXN HD, Astro Zhi Zun HD – a Chinese general entertainment high-definition channel – and FX HD will join Astro B.yond's HD line up. In addition, FOX will make its debut on Astro in standard definition. All these new channels started transmission on 16 June 2010.

On 1 July 2010, Astro starts transmission of Astro SuperSport 3 (ASSP 3). ASSP 3 will broadcast 'LIVE' coverage of BPL (Barclays Premier League) games as well as also feature highlights, previews and magazine programs around the BPL. ASSP 3 will also broadcast other football plus a variety of other sporting genres.

On 11 August 2010, Astro starts transmission of National Geographic Wild (Nat Geo Wild). Nat Geo Wild, is in Malaysian, English and Mandarin language tracks for all programs.

On 17 August 2010, Astro starts transmission of AXN Beyond HD as well.

On 1 October 2010, Astro launches three additional HD channels, ONE HD provides Asian general entertainment with a focus on Korean content. while STAR Movies HD brings movies in HD and Astro Lifestyle HD channel on Channel 706 which will air programmes from both Food Network Asia HD (9:00 am to 9:00 pm) and Life Inspired (Li) (9:00 pm to 9:00 am).

On 9 December 2010, Astro Tutor TV UPSR returned as a permanent channel on Astro with a programme line-up include, Mathematics, Science, English and Bahasa Malaysia with full interactive 'red-button' features to make revision even more engaging and fun.

On 14 January 2011, Astro launches Astro First, a first of its kind movie-on-demand service. Astro customers will be able to watch films within two weeks after the cinema release.

On 1 May 2011, Astro offers Astro Tutor TV channel for PMR and SPM version, with newest line-up programmes include, Mathematics, Science, Malaysian English, History, Malaysian, and Additional Maths (only for SPM) with full interactive 'red-button' features to make revision even more engaging and fun.

On 1 July 2011, Astro launches another new package called Indo Pek, which comprising two new Astro branded channels named Bintang and Pelangi. Bintang provides Indonesian lifestyle entertainment such as music videos, gossips, and more. Pelangi shows Indonesian movies from the 1970s and later.

On 13 January 2013, Astro launched the second Chinese HD channel named Astro Quan Jia HD for all Astro B.yond customers. The first Chinese HD channel Astro Zhi Zun HD will be revamped to a Cantonese HD channel, which is a sister channel of Astro Wah Lai Toi.

On 11 July 2014, Astro incorporates Astro On Demand into the upgraded version of Dynasty Package. This channel will be made available to all existing Dynasty Package subscribers on Astro B.yond platform.[1]

On 6 October 2014, Astro first Chinese HD channel Astro Zhi Zun HD will become Astro Wah Lai Toi HD on Channel 310.

On 16 November 2014, Astro second Chinese HD channel Astro Quan Jia HD which is showing local programmes and Singapore drama along with Astro AEC will be moved to new Chinese HD channel, Astro AEC HD on Channel 306 and the Chinese Drama HD channel, Astro Shuang Xing HD on channel 307, which is showing all drama in SD version of Astro Shuang Xing.

Astro B.yond

Astro B.yond logo

ASTRO launched Malaysia's first high-definition television service branded Astro B.yond on 11 December 2009. The roll out of these services is estimated to cost some RM200 million, including marketing and operating costs of approximately RM150 million, over the next financial year, ahead of revenue and earnings from these services.[2]

Astro B.yond also introduced a Digital Video Recording (DVR) service, available through the Astro B.yond Personal Video Recorder (PVR) and an external hard disk drive connected to the Astro B.yond decoder. The Astro B.yond PVR comes with an inbuilt 500GB hard disk and allows customers to record up to two live programmes at one time, rewind and pause live TV. Recording services is also available through Astro B.yond via a compatible external hard disk drive and activation of the recording service by Astro.[3]

In April 2011, Astro B.yond introduced its IPTV services through Astro B.yond IPTV a collaboration with TIME dotCom Berhad (TIME) to deliver IPTV since December 2010 brings an unparalleled multiplay of Astro channels in HD (High-Definition) with Personal Video Recording (PVR) and VOD (Video-on-Demand) services delivered via TIME's 100% fibre broadband offering the fastest Internet speed in the country with voice at the best value to Malaysian homes. Astro B.yond IPTV will be progressively available in Klang Valley and Penang. At present, Astro B.yond IPTV is available at 60 high-rise condominiums within Mont Kiara, KLCC, Bangsar and Penang.[4]

The Astro B.yond decoder is a rebranded Pace plc DS-830NA.

Astro IPTV

Astro IPTV is an Internet Protocol Television service by Astro. Launched on 20 April 2011 as Astro B.yond IPTV, its subscribers were entitled to high definition Astro channels, personal video recording, video-on-demand, high-speed internet, and voice services. Astro’s initial target audiences were residences of high-rise buildings who previously had difficulty accessing HDTV services. By offering HDTV services with its IPTV, Astro was able to bring HDTV to these high-rise residences.[5] This was made possible by partnering with Time dotCom Bhd and later on Maxis Berhad (April 2013). Astro B.yond IPTV was rebranded to Astro IPTV in February 2014.


Service and technical information

Both old (bottom) and new (top) Astro satellite dish or mini-dish.

The direct-to-home (DTH), is broadcast as high-power Ku-band transmissions using the transponders of the MEASAT satellite system. Reception of the service signals uses a fixed 60-cm diameter dish antenna.

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 service availability of 99.7%, however, is still a topic of much debate by subscribers.

Set top box manufacturers

Generation Country Manufacturer Logo Model Date Introduced Date Dissolved
1st generation/launch product  Netherlands Philips Old INS 610 1 January 1996 31 December 2003
2nd generation  Japan Pioneer DVB 8750s 1 January 2003 now


Since its launch, Astro transmits programming with encryption to mitigate signal piracy. The receiver (also known as an IRD, or "integrated receiver-decoder") uses ISO/IEC 7816 smart cards which tell the receiver how to decrypt the programming for viewing. Astro is now using a third generation of access smart cards.

  • The first generation of smart cards were used until 2004. The encryption uses the SECA Mediaguard.
  • The second generation of smart cards were introduced in 2004 and used until 2008. The encryption uses the improved version of Mediaguard.
  • The third generation of smart cards were introduced in 2008. This is the current "standard issue" smart card. It uses the NDS VideoGuard encryption system.

Packages / subscription

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

Since 15 November 2007, 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. Subscribers who pay this amount will only enjoy channels grouped under Astro Family banner that offers 26 channels, including six free-to-air terrestrial television networks, in-house vernacular channels and some international networks.

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 Disney Channel) and News. The sports package – initially a mini package – is now offered separately, and must be subscribed with another Mini package at least.

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, five new packages, collectively known as the Plus packages, were introduced to Astro since 15 November 2007. They include the Metro package (such as Discovery Home & Health), the Maharaja package (Tamil-language channels), the Gold package, the New Emperor package (both Chinese language packages), and the Mustika package (Malay and Bollywood package). Subscribers cannot select both the Gold Package and the New Emperor Package as four channels in the Gold Package are available within the New Emperor Package as well.[6]

Broadband and 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 (and later broadband) 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. Initially, it had two video channels: Akademi Fantasia Xtra and GOALTV. The service required a separate subscription fee charged to the subscribers mobile phone bill. It was rebranded as Astro Broadband..

In 2010, Astro introduced the Astro B.yond Player Online offering access to selected programmes via LIVE video streaming on to its customers. There is also Video-On-Demand and selected programme replays available online. The Astro B.yond Player comprises videos from Astro's locally produced content, LIVE football matches and a special programmes HD broadcast. Astro B.yond Player Online requires a Microsoft Silverlight plug-in.[7]

Since December 2010, Astro's strategic collaboration with TIME dotCom Berhad (TIME) has enabled Astro to deliver IPTV with multiplay of Astro channels in HD (High-Definition) with Personal Video Recording (PVR) and VOD (Video-on-Demand) services delivered via TIME's 100% fibre broadband offering the fastest Internet speed in the country with voice to Malaysian homes.[8]


As of 1 April 2011, the service has close to 3 million customers, which represents 50% of Malaysian TV homes.[9]

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 localised version of Mexico's La Academia.

Other multi-feed/channel events using the Red Button feature:
Event No of feeds / channels Broadcast channel
2003 Southeast Asian Games 4 ESPN
STAR Sports
Astro Box Office Sport
Astro SuperSport
2004 Thomas & Uber Cup
UEFA Euro 2004
2004 Summer Olympics
2005 Southeast Asian Games 8 Astro SuperSport
2006 Winter Olympics
2006 Thomas & Uber Cup
2006 FIFA World Cup
2006 Commonwealth Games
2006 Asian Games
2007 Southeast Asian Games 11
2008 Thomas & Uber Cup
UEFA Euro 2008
2008 Summer Olympics
2009 Southeast Asian Games 10 (5 in SDTV and 5 in HDTV) Astro SuperSport in SDTV and HDTV
2010 Winter Olympics
2010 Thomas & Uber Cup
2010 FIFA World Cup
2010 Asian Games
2011 Southeast Asian Games
2012 Thomas & Uber Cup
UEFA Euro 2012 10 (10 in SDTV and 10 in HDTV) Astro SuperSport in SDTV and Channel 830 in HDTV)
2012 Summer Olympics 10 (10 in SDTV, 10 in HDTV & 10 in 3DTV) ESPN and STAR Sports in SDTV, Channel 830 in HDTV and Channel 840 in 3DTV)
2014 Winter Olympics 4 (2 in SDTV and 2 in HDTV) Astro SuperSport
2014 FIFA World Cup 8 (4 in SDTV and 4 in HDTV) Astro SuperSport in SDTV and HDTV

International operations and joint venture


The Astro service is currently also available in Brunei under the brand Kristal-Astro. Launched on 24 January 2000, the Brunei operation is a joint venture company established between Brunei company DST through its subsidiary, Kristal Sdn Bhd (51.1%) and Measat Broadcast Network Systems (48.9%). That service comprises over 80 DTH television and radio channels.

Indonesia (as of Astro Nusantara)

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. The service ceased transmission sign-off closedown on Monday, 20 October 2008 at 00:01 local time midnight.


Sun Direct is an 80:20 joint venture between the Kalanidhi Maran family and the Astro Group of Malaysia. Sun Direct adds around 200,000 subscribers per month in the south and the target is three million plus active subscribers by the end of this fiscal nationally. Sun Direct is the first one to adopt the advanced MPEG4 technology offering better compression and signal quality and is the first one to offer HDTV (High definition) content. Sun Direct offers all customer premises equipment like the dish and Set Top box at no additional cost to the customer, which is a practice followed by DTH platforms across the world.


Astro joint venture with Endemol to open the second Asian branch and the branch is call Endemol Malaysia and than the first format from Endemol is Kamilah Bintang -A kids talent searching reality show and was aired on Astro Ceria since November 2010.

Awards and accolades

On November 2009, Astro was awarded the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) Chairman's Award 2009 for its contribution to the pay-TV industry in the region.[10]

Astro won Gold in the Media and Entertainment category for The Putra Brand Awards in 2010 and 2011.[11][12]

See also


  1. ^ [1]. Retrieved on 8 July 2014
  2. ^ Astro to launch HDTV services on Friday. Retrieved on 23 December 2009
  3. ^ [2]. Retrieved on 23 April 2011
  4. ^ [3]. Retrieved on 23 April 2011
  5. ^ [4]. Astro partners with TIME dotcom to roll-out Astro B.yond IPTV services,, Retrieved 24 September 2014
  6. ^ Astro. Packages available and their prices on Astro. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  7. ^ [5]. Retrieved on 23 April 2011
  8. ^ [6]. Retrieved on 23 April 2011
  9. ^ [7]. Retrieved on 23 April 2011
  10. ^ [8]. Retrieved on 23 April 2011
  11. ^ [9]. Retrieved on 23 April 2011
  12. ^ [10]. Retrieved on 23 April 2011

External links

  • Astro corporate web site
  • Astro All Asia Networks plc corporate web site
  • Astro All Asia Networks plc Annual Report FY2006
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