SAT-IBERIA 20.05.1998

SAT-IBERIA - Edition 3/98 - May 20th 1998
Satellite and media news from Spain, Portugal and Latin America
Edited by Branislav Pekic

S P A I N  A N D  P O R T U G A L 

The European sports channel Eurosport has experimentally started
broadcasting as part of Canal Satélite Digital's "basic" package, thanks to
a deal on May 8th between the two companies. The official launch is set for
June so that all CSD subscribers will be able to enjoy Eurosport's live
coverage from the World Cup in France. According to official figures,
Eurosport is currently received by 76 million households throughout Europe
and 95% percent of its programs are also available in the Spanish language.
Eurosport Spain is available via the satellite. Technical details are as
follows: frequency 12,246 GHz/Ver, Symbol rate 27500 and FEC 3/4.

Major management changes have been announced at the Spanish digital
platform Via Digital. Two top managers, Jorge Sánchez Gallo and Carlos
Reboll, respectively production director and director for programming have
lost their jobs due to "logical team changes" while in a separate
development, the marketing director, José Luis Vara has also announced that
he is planning to leave the company. It seems that the initiative for
changes has come from the CEO of Via Digital, Juan Ruiz de Gauna
(previously director at Telemadrid) who was nominated by Telefonica (a
shareholder of Via Digital) to the post just a month ago. Gauna in turned
substituted Javier Albácar, director of the Recoletos group who offered his
resignation because he felt the running of the company was based more on
political criteria than on economic or market criteria.  
Via Digital is currently undergoing a delicate economic situation, with
losses, which according to analysts reach 1,000 million pesetas a week.

The leading Spanish producer for audio-visual and multimedia programs,
Media Park has announced that it plans to bid for one of the future
national licences for digital terrestrial TV.  Media Park feels that that
digital terrestrial television will be of great importance because current
analogue services already cover 100% of the Spanish TV households. In the
near future, this new method is set to become the dominant method of
distribution thanks to the possibility of offering a huge number of TV
channels as well as new multimedia services. Experimental broadcasts are
due to start in the course of this year. Initially, only 50% of the Spanish
population will be covered, but by the year 2000 this percentage will grow
to 80%. 

The Spanish company Grupo Telecinco (which includes the TV channel
Telecinco) has announced that 1997 has been its best year on record, with
reported profits of 9,004 million pesetas. This sum represents an
incredible 394% increase compared to 1,823 million pesetas profit in
1996....Telecinco has recently introduced subtitling for deaf on some of
it's programmes. Currently 8 hours of programming weekly are subtitled
(including some movies) and the subtitles can be accessed via teletext page
888....Planeta Corporacion has become a shareholder in the Telecinco TV
channel by buying a 10% stake (worth 9,700 million pesetas) previously held
by Prensa Española de Medios Audiovisuales. 

After a long debate, the Spanish government has decided not to change the
current law, which limits one single company or individual from owning more
than a 25% stake in a TV channel. Private TV channels have been lobbying
the government for a long time to change the law in question, because such
a change would enable the input of fresh capital. The government has
however given the green light for private TV channels to float their stakes
on the stock exchange, starting from January 1st 1999.
The government is also currently re-examining the national frequency plan
for digital terrestrial television. One of the changes regards the
possibility that TV channels which are to get the new frequencies will also
be able to broadcast separate programs for each of the Spanish autonomous
regions. If the timetable in the national frequency plan is respected, by
the year 2001, the new digital terrestrial services will cover 95% of the

A recent report from the European Commission in Brussels has accused the
Spanish private TV channels Antena 3, Tele 5 and Canal Plus of being simple
"Hollywood subsidiaries". The EC report has shown that none of the 3 TV
channels respects the "Television without frontiers" directive which is
designed to promote European produced programming. The same report is also
highly critical of the Spanish government which, according to the EC, has
presented no explanations nor has taken steps to correct the existing
The EC directive imposes on all European TV channels to, "whenever
possible", devote at least 50% of their program schedules to programs of
European origin. According to the EC report which used data supplied by the
Spanish government, the Tele 5 channel was the "worst offender", devoting
only 38% of it's schedule to European programs during 1996 (the last year
with available data). Canal Plus (with 40%) and Antena 3 (42%) faired a
little better. 
The same report has also shown that the Spanish public broadcaster's two TV
channels are in full compliance with the EU directive; TVE-1 with 50% and
La 2 with 76%. The EC warned that the Spanish government had not provided
all the data necessary for a detailed examination of fulfilment of the
directive, especially concerning the thematic satellite channels. The
official statement states that the EC reserves the right to undertake
"adequate measures in specific cases".
The EC report has shown that the majority of TV channels in the EU member
countries have respected the directive (132 out of 214 channels). An
increase in European produced programs has been noted on TV channels in
Germany, Denmark, France, Ireland and The Netherlands while on the other
hand Italy and Spain have been singled out as the "black sheep".

Portugal is to get it's first dedicated sports channel this June. Sport TV
Portugal is a joint venture between the Portuguese public broadcaster RTP,
leading cable operator TV Cabo and Olivedesportos (a company, which holds
TV, rights to major football matches). The channel will have an initial
capital of 500 million escudos (around 4,8 million DM) which will be
equally divided by the three partners. Subscribers to the new channel will
be able to watch major sports events such as football, tennis and golf.
Initially, Sport TV Portugal will be transmitted only on cable, but there
is a strong possibility that the channel will also appear on satellite in
the near future.   

- Canal Satelite Digital has taken up the former transponder (frequency
12,303 GHz/LC). 
- Via Digital has added "The Playboy Channel" to it's digital package on
the HISPASAT 1A/1B satellites. The details are as follows: frequency 12,456
GHz/LH, Symbol rate 27500 and FEC 3/4.
- Rafael García Mediano has been nominated as director general of Compañía
Independiente de Televisión (CITSA), Sogecable's subsidiary in charge of
thematic TV channels. 

L A T I N   A M E R I C A 

Fox Sports America has recently signed a major program deal in Chile which
will give the channel exclusive TV rights to show 30 football (soccer)
matches a season from the local football league. The channel will share the
football package deal with Sky Latin America, which has in turn won rights
to an additional 40 matches. 

Galaxy Latin America' (GLA), the provider of DirecTV in Latin America and
the Caribbean, and the Cisneros Group of Companies have recently announced
the launch of a satellite-based teacher training program designed to
enhance, in its initial phase, the teaching skills of approximately 1,800
primary school teachers in 120 schools throughout Latin America. The
project, known as Actualización de Maestros en Educación (@ME), is
scheduled to begin transmitting to schools in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica,
Mexico, Panama and Venezuela in the last quarter of 1998.  
Through satellite transmissions and the Internet, teachers will receive
training at their respective schools to improve their basic teaching skills
and adopt the most recent methodological approaches in education. Based on
the results of this pilot project, a more comprehensive program is expected
to be implemented in schools throughout Latin America, enhancing the
learning process of tens of thousands of children.  
Other corporations participating in the @ME project include, Inter-American
Development Bank, Microsoft Corporation and the Monterrey Technological
As part of the commitment to education made by GLA and its partners, in
1996 the company launched Cl@se, the education-only channel offering
DirecTV subscribers certified language and computer courses as well as
instruction on family and health issues.  

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