Australian pay-TV provider Austar has announced an agreement with Thomson of France for the launch of a combined satellite and terrestrial digital video recorder for regional and rural Australia.

The Austar receiver will have no less than four tuners and is designed to support both digital satellite and terrestrial transmissions.

The inclusion of free-to-air terrestrial television will enable a seamless user experience across both delivery platforms, without the need for a separate set-top box.

Austar calls the device a personal digital recorder, or PDR, which elsewhere is interchangeably termed a personal video recorder or digital video recorder.

It will include a 160 gigabyte hard disk and OpenTV Core and PVR 2.0 middleware, with the Irdeto Access conditional access system.

“In opting for Thomson’s PDR, our customers will enjoy the best interactive television experience, watching what they want, when they want,” said John Porter, chief executive of Austar.

Austar is the second largest subscription television operator in Australia, in a market led by Foxtel, which launched its own personal video recorder in March, also based on the OpenTV PVR platform.

The selection of Thomson further strengthens the presence of Thomson in the Asia Pacific region. Last month the company was chosen as the lead supplier of cable set-top boxes to Star Hub in Singapore.

The use of a hybrid set-top box means that there is no need to simulcast on satellite regional services that are already carried on terrestrial television. It offers an intriguing possibility of employing a similar approach in other markets.

In the UK, satellite broadcaster BSkyB is an equal shareholder in Freeview, which markets digital terrestrial television. This has become a strong competitor to the satellite pay-TV service. Meanwhile, the BBC and other broadcasters are looking to launch a Freesat service in direct competition with Sky. A dual platform receiver would provide consumers with the best of both worlds.