Two of the world’s top satellite-fleet operators are reporting firm transponder pricing and continued high demand in Africa, the Middle East, Russia and Central Asia and both are expanding their fleet capacity to meet the demand.

Eutelsat of Paris, whose home market in Western Europe continues to grow thanks to the addition of many local and ethnic television channels, is likely to report by the end of this year that Eastern Europe, North Africa, Russia, Turkey and the Middle East have exceeded the number of channels in Western Europe. Eutelsat calls this region its “Second Continent.”

Eutelsat plans to order a W3B satellite in the coming weeks to be launched in 2010 into the

7 degrees east orbital slot, where it will join the W3A satellite. W3A is 90 percent full and carries 200 television channels, Eutelsat said Feb. 14 in reporting its 2007 financial results.

The growth is not just television, but two-way broadband as well. Eutelsat’s D-Star service in the Second Continent region surpassed Western Europe in 2007 in terms of the number of installed D-Star terminals. Eutelsat said digital television in Russia and emerging markets accounted for 287 new channels, which represents

55 percent of the new channels

Eutelsat has signed contracts to carry

since December 2006.

Ka-Sat all-Ka-band satellite,

scheduled for launch in 2010, will have beams dedicated to the Middle East and North Africa, Eutelsat Chief Executive Giuliano Berretta said.

Startup satellite operator Yahsat of the United Arab Emirates

also is planning two large Ka-band satellites for both military and commercial users in

the region.

At its 16 degrees east orbital slot, Eutelsat’s W2 satelilte reported a 15 percent increase in television channel growth, to a total of 325 contracts that have been signed with broadcasters in Serbia, Slovenia and, in the Indian Ocean region, for Reunion Island.

A similar growth was seen at the 36 degrees east slot serving Russia and sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of channels grew by 45 percent, to 336. Eutelsat’s Atlantic Bird 3 satellite, located at 5 degrees west longitude, reported strong growth in D-Star terminal services in Africa and the Middle East.

At SES of Luxembourg, it was the New Skies division that reported the highest growth – 20 percent – in 2007, SES said Feb. 18

reporting its financial results. The fill rate on New Skies satellites was up to 69.5 percent compared to 61.9 percent a year earlier. The

company also reported increased business

in the Indian Ocean region. New Skies is expanding with the NSS-12 on order for 57 degrees east and for a second quarter 2009 launch.