Sat-Birmingham News Report #: 006

Sat-Birmingham News Report #: 006

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 TODAYS NEWS: Thursday 6th November 1997.

Today's Headlines: IN THE US

DirecTV Closing In On 3 Million Subscribers?
Analysts Raise Opinions On News Corp.
PrimeStar Renews, Expands Past Sponsorships and Promotions
EchoStar Closes Offering
NextLevel Moving Corporate Offices
The Real Numbers: DBS Nears 5.8 Million Subscribers
DirecTV: Three Million Subscribers In Three Years
Comcast Expands Cable-Exclusive Programming
DirecTV Japan Lineup Falls To 63 Channels
Rockwell To Acquire Hughes-Avicom

DirecTV Closing In On 3 Million Subscribers?

Is DirecTV closing in on three million subscribers?

Speculation in the home satellite industry suggests the Hughes 
Electronics unit achieved another milestone in its three-year history, 
recently surpassing the three million subscriber mark weeks before the 
height of the holiday shopping season.

DirecTV officials couldn't be contacted before deadline, and the
company has not released official numbers. The last official subscriber
count came from Hughes in October, which pegged the service at 2.892
million through the end of September. 

Last year, DirecTV added 108,000 new subscribers during October.
The service would need that exact amount of new customers to achieve
the three million mark. 

Analysts Raise Opinions On News Corp.

Merril Lynch analyst Jessica Reif, calling News Corp. the best value in
the filmed entertainment industry, raised the media giant to a near-term
accumulate from neutral while keeping the company's long-term buy
rating on the shares. 

Reif said News Corp.'s basic businesses are almost all healthy, led by
Fox television station group. Investment spending should slow down as
the company "digests" an unusual amount of costs involving recent
acquisitions and start ups. Asset sales are projected to exceed
investment spending by $200 million. 

Reif also said News Corp. could generate $400 million of free cash flow
in the current fiscal year, prior to investment spending and income. 

NatWest Securities also raised its rating on shares of News Corp. to
accumulate from hold with a $22 per share price target. Analyst Gary
Farber said the stock's valuation is cheap, and both operating trends 
and the company's off-balance sheets assets' valuation were positive. 

PrimeStar Renews, Expands Past Sponsorships and Promotions

PrimeStar announced Tuesday it renewed and expanded sponsorships
and promotions with NASCAR racing, the American Red Cross and
country music star Clay Walker. 

PrimeStar's NASCAR sponsorship will lock the company into a new
multi-year, multi-million-dollar deal with Roush Racing. The promotion
also involves top-ten Winston Cup driver Ted Musgrave and his No. 16
Ford Taurus race car, and will allow PrimeStar to acquire associate

In the past, PrimeStar has sponsored NASCAR events and a traveling
promotional trailer at many racing events. 

The Red Cross re-commitment follows a two-year relationship in which
PrimeStar raised nearly $9 million in donations and promotional support.

And PrimeStar will sponsor and promote another concert tour with Clay
Walker. In 1998, Walker is scheduled to perform a 100-city tour, which
will involve on-site demonstrations and sales efforts from PrimeStar. 

EchoStar Closes Offering

On Tuesday, EchoStar Communications closed its $160 million offering
of 3.1 million shares of Class A common stock and 2 million shares of
6-3/4 percent Series C cumulative convertible preferred stock. 

The Class A Common Stock offering was underwritten by Donaldson,
Lufkin & Jenrette Securities, BT Alex Brown and Unterberg Harris. The
6-3/4 percent Series C cumulative convertible preferred stock was
underwritten by Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Lehman Brothers. 

Proceeds from the offering will be used to fund the expansion of
EchoStar's DISH Network and to pay for marketing and general
corporate expenses. 

NextLevel Moving Corporate Offices

NextLevel Systems will move its corporate headquarters in Chicago and
combine it with the Broadband Networks Group during the first quarter
of 1998. 

A new facility will house the corporate headquarters and broadband
business and will be located in Horsham, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb. 

The company said it anticipates that a portion of the corporate staff
currently in Chicago will relocate to Horsham, and that some positions
will be incorporated with existing staff at the Horsham site. 

The Satellite Data Networks Group, based in San Diego, Calif.,
shouldn't be impacted by the move. 

The Real Numbers: DBS Nears 5.8 Million Subscribers

Handily beating guesstimates released yesterday in the trade press,
PrimeStar logged a total of 55,000 new subscribers in the month of
October. This moved the service up to 1,864,000 subscribers and, at
least for now, broke the roll-up induced logjam that has kept PrimeStar
additions down. 

Meanwhile, DirecTV celebrated hitting the 3 million mark in early 

According to EchoStar, the DISH network boosted its subscriber rolls
by 75,000 in October, bringing DISH's total count up to 895,000 and
making it virtually certain that CEO Charlie Ergen will hit his 1 
mark by the end of the year. 

End of October numbers by company are: DirecTV - 3,000,000; DISH
- 895,000; PrimeStar - 1,864,000. USSB subscriber counts stand just
under 55 percent of DirecTV's count for approximately 1,650,000.
C-Band subscribers numbered approximately 2,144,000 by
mid-October. End of October C-Band numbers should be available by
Monday's e-news. 

DirecTV: Three Million Subscribers In Three Years

It was earlier in the week that DirecTV activated its 3 millionth
subscriber - a first for the DBS industry and for the No. 1 U.S. home
satellite service. 

DirecTV estimated it is now seen in one of every 33 television
households in the United States. The Hughes Electronics unit achieved
that milestone by activating one million subscribers per year since it
began offering service nationwide in the fall of 1994. 

To commemorate the acquisition of its 3 millionth subscriber, DirecTV
unfurled an 80-by-60-foot red-white-and-blue banner on the front of its
El Segundo, Calif. headquarters. The banner reads "3 Million
Subscribers in 3 Years. Thanks America." 

"We've worked very hard toward this goal and the magnitude of this
milestone reflects our excitement and pride over this achievement," said
DirecTV President Eddy Hartenstein. "It's a tribute to the thousands of
DirecTV employees, retail sales personnel, consumer electronics
manufacturers and programming partners who are dedicated to
maintaining our leadership in an industry that has become increasingly

"Most importantly, we're saluting our family of 3 million subscribers 
are helping make DirecTV a household name for quality entertainment." 

Comcast Expands Cable-Exclusive Programming

Comcast Cable Communications will produce original programming
exclusive to its customers, featuring everything from concerts by Hall 
Oates and The Doobie Brothers to a behind-the-scenes special on the
upcoming U.S. Skating Championships. 

"Comcast Original Programming," managed by Jon Gorchow, vice
president of Comcast Cable, will oversee development of exclusive
cable television programs and networks unique to both Comcast and the
markets they serve. Gorchow, most recently vice president of sales and
marketing for Comcast Cable Communications, has been producing
"Comcast Special Presentations" over the past two years. 

Shows have included live concerts, standup comedy, and "Movie
Marathons" that originate at locations ranging from Disney World to Las
Vegas. Comcast was also recently honored with an Emmy Award for a
1996 special focusing on the '96 Presidential race. 

Comcast faces a complaint at the Federal Communications Commission
concerning efforts to keep its Philadelphia-area sports channel 
to cable. DirecTV filed the complaint earlier this fall. 

DirecTV Japan Lineup Falls To 63 Channels

DirecTV Japan said on Wednesday that it would launch its service with
63 channels on Dec. 1, a drop from its original 90-channel lineup. 

A company spokesman said Japan's Posts and Telecommunications
Ministry had given permission to DirecTV Japan to offer 90 channels.
However, some content providers are not ready for the Dec. 1 start
date, forcing the service to drop its lineup to 63 channels. 

DirecTV Japan is a partnership between Hughes Electronics' DirecTV
International unit and other Japanese companies. 

Rockwell To Acquire Hughes-Avicom

Rockwell will acquire Hughes-Avicom International from Hughes
Electronics, putting the company into the in-flight entertainment 

The new venture will become part of Rockwell's Collins business, a
supplier of aviation electronics for air transport, regional, business 
military aircraft markets. Hughes-Avicom employs 1,200 people
worldwide, and has projected 1997 sales of around $120 million. 

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected
to be completed later this year. 


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    All contents (C) 1997 Neil Anthony Powell UK SATELLITE CONTROL
     Some material (c) 1997 Dominic Sedghi, www.sat-net.com/sat-uk
             and Skyreport (c) 1997 All Rights Reserved. 
       The above may not be reproduced without written consent.
       Information is subject to change and/or may be incorrect.

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