SAT-IBERIA 17.06.1998

SAT-IBERIA - Edition 7/98 - June 17th 1998
Satellite, cable and media news from Spain, Portugal and Latin America
Edited by Branislav Pekic (owner-sat-iberia@tags1.dn.net)

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

The Spanish public broadcaster RTVE has given its green light to the recent
decision by the administrative council of the digital platform Vía Digital
to increase the company's capital. This decision means that RTVE will have
to invest an additional 5,100 million pesetas in Vía Digital in which it
has a 17% stake. It is also hoped that other shareholders in the company
such as the Mexican media group Televisa and the Spanish regional
broadcaster Televisión de Galicia will also approve the financing plan.
The new financial investment comes at a time of major criticism for RTVE
because of the constantly increasing debt which now totals nearly 600,000
million pesetas. The opposition parties have already called for a total
restructuring of the public broadcaster, including the total or partial
privatisation of the company.
TVE Tematica, RTVE's subsidiary responsible for producing 7 thematic
channels for the Vía Digital platform will receive this year only 600
million pesetas in subscription revenues from the 2,000 million pesetas
originally planned. The terms of the deal are that the public broadcaster
receives 240 pesetas monthly for each subscriber to the digital platform.
In March for example, the number of subscribers to Vía Digital totalled
109,000, which means that TVE Tematica received around 26 million pesetas
for its channels. The company forecasts that revenues for 1998 will reach
7,490 million

The Spanish digital platform Vía Digital will broadcast, via it's channels
Teledeporte and Eurosport, more than 600 hours of football from the World
Cup which is currently taking place in France. Teledeporte will in total
show 44 games, which will be, broadcast in the wide-screen format Palplus
that increases by 1/3 the surface of the TV screen. On the other hand,
Eurosport will dedicate 12 hours of its daily program schedule to the World
Cup, especially during the time slots 07:00-13:00 and 17:30 to 01.30 hours
CET. The channel will show all 64 games, 32 of them live.

The president of the pan-European news and information channel Euronews,
José Villa Abelló, said that the advent of digital TV will bring down
monopoly barriers, which have been put up by individual States. He added
that the arrival of hundreds of new channels will produce a significant
fragmentation of the television audience. José Vila Abelló made his
predictions at a conference called "European public television faced with
technological innovations" which was recently held in Madrid. Vila Abelló
warned that the major general entertainment channels are set to loose
significant audience quotas and will have to transform their "economic

A new channel dedicated to new information technologies such as the
Internet, virtual reality, multimedia and cybernetics has jointed the
Spanish platform Vía Digital. 
Red 2000 which is produced by the Europroduciones company broadcasts 24
hours a day and is aimed mainly at a family audience. Program highlights
include "Tecnodiario"; a program devoted to news on the latest technologies
and their applications in the business world and "Cibercursos" with
computer courses aimed at the general public.

Despite publicly accepting the introduction of digital terrestrial
television, both public and private TV channels in Spain have openly
criticised government plans for the implementation of these new services.
The three leading private TV channels feel that the arrival of new TV
channels will bring a global reorganisation of the TV market and
consequently cause problems of an economical nature for the owners of the
digital licenses.
TVE, Canal Plus, Antena 3, and Tele 5 have requested to be awarded a
multiplex channel each while the Spanish regulator, the Ministry of
fomento, has said it will grant them only one multiplex which can transmit
4-5 new digital channels. The president of the regulating body, Rafael
Arias Salgado has answered critics by admitting that he is ready to
negotiate but made it clear that the new law will come into effect at the
beginning of August. This new law will introduce a new digital transmission
technology, which is set to replace the current analogue technology within
the space of 2 years. Salgado proposes that each private TV channel receive
one multiplex channel while the other two multiplexes will be awarded to RTVE.
The new digital terrestrial stations will be operative from April 2000 when
the current broadcasting licenses awarded to private broadcasters expire.
The private broadcasters will be given a time limit of 2 years to start
broadcasting in digital mode and will be able to continue transmitting
simultaneously in analogue mode till the year 2010. Viewers will be able to
continue using existing TV sets but will have to add a separate decoder.
The public broadcaster has criticised the decision to award multiplexes to
various private TV channels and warned that the lack of alternative
channels will mean that there will be no interactive services available to
viewers who will just receive more or less the same channels they already
receive. The pay-TV network Canal Plus feels that this question should be
regulated by a new law, which would be preceded by Parliamentary debate.

The CyC Telecomunicaciones consortium has recently been awarded the three
most important cable franchises in the Spanish capital Madrid. The
shareholding structure of CyC's is made up of: Union Fenosa (24,25%),
Endesa (23,25%), Stet/Telecom Italia (23%), Cable Total (15%), Supercanal
(7,5%) and Ineuropa (7%). It is expected that CyC will invest around 236
million pesetas in the next 10 years to cable up 2,6 million households,
with the first 150,000 households being operational from this September.
CyC has also announced plans to produce several cable channels, which will
also be exported to the Latin American market, thanks to one of the
shareholders, Argentina's cable provider Supercanal. The loser in the
bidding battle for the franchises was the Cableuropa consortium led by
SpainCom and France Telecom, which had to satisfy itself with franchises
covering other areas.


Galaxy Latin America ("GLA"), the provider of the DirecTV service in Latin
America and the Caribbean, and Galaxy Entertainment de Argentina (GEA)
officially launched the DirecTV service in Argentina on June 9th. At the
same time, the companies also announced that DirecTV will provide, free of
charge, the World Cup images to the entire Argentine territory through
Argentina Televisora Color (ATC).  The launch of the DirecTV service in
Argentina was made possible through a satellite reciprocity agreement
signed by the governments of Argentina and the Unites States in Washington,
D.C. on June 5.  
Galaxy Entertainment de Argentina is a partnership between Artear, Channel
13, a company of the Clarin Group, and GLA investors Cisneros Group and
Hughes Electronics Corporation.  With the launch of service in Argentina,
DirecTV will soon be available in 100% of its relevant market.  In the next
few months, GEA will expand its service to include Uruguay and Paraguay.  
In Argentina, the service will offer up to 200 channels of the best quality
programming (including 14 Argentine television channels) with razor-sharp
images and CD quality sound. A new state-of-the-art broadcast centre,
located at the Artear facilities in Buenos Aires, has become the fifth
uplink centre from which channels are originated and broadcast to the
Galaxy VIII-i satellite.  The other broadcast centres are located in Long
Beach, California, USA; Mexico City, Mexico; Caracas, Venezuela; and São
Paulo, Brazil.  

For the first time in the history of the World Cup, thanks to DirecTV,
viewers in Latin America and the Caribbean will be able to enjoy an
unprecedented amount of World Cup coverage, including all 64 games in up to
six languages, along with related programming and commentaries from various
countries. Subscribers will, for example, be able to watch their favourite
matches and listen to the narrations in Spanish, Portuguese, English,
German, French or Italian by simply pressing a button on their remote
control. Mundial Mundial '98, an exclusive channel created by DirecTV for
the World Cup, will offer live commentary from several of the countries
playing in the series. For example, a subscriber in Mexico watching Chile
vs. Italy can listen to the commentators in Italian or Spanish. Each match
is expected to have four simultaneous audio broadcasts, each in a different
language. Games will also be taped for later broadcast, allowing viewers to
have more opportunities to see their favourite team in action. All
subscribers will receive the Mundial Mundial '98  channel free of charge. 
In addition to the games themselves, Mundial Mundial '98 will offer
summaries from various countries and highlights from the day's games. It
will also broadcast statistics pertaining to the players, teams and
countries, along with summary information relating to the games. DirecTV
anchors will be covering the games from France and interviewing the stars
of World Cup '98. The service will also carry the rest of the 
coverage offered by local and international sports channels. Using its
state-of-the-art decoder box and the powerful Galaxy VIII-i satellite,
Galaxy Latin America, LLC, the provider of DirecTV in the region, is able
to downlink signals from various countries and instantly broadcast to
hundreds of thousands of subscribers across Latin America and the Caribbean. 

INTELSAT satellites will transmit over 26,000 program hours of World Cup
matches through a combination of short-term leases and occasional use
service to viewers in over 120 countries around the world. Every country in
the world is able to pick up coverage of the matches from the 'World Feed'
which INTELSAT will be providing." The "World Feed" is the official
coverage of the matches that is prepared by the host broadcaster and which
INTELSAT will carry on its global beam transponders around the world.
INTELSAT is supporting these global requirements on 11 spacecraft, and
satellite connections will be available through GlobeCast earth stations in
Bercenay-en-Othe, Pleumeur Bodou, Rambouillet, Aubervilliers, and through
temporary transportable antennas located at the International Broadcast
Centre. GlobeCast is the television division of France Telecom.
INTELSAT will also be providing full time HDTV transmissions for NHK in
Japan as well as for TV Globo in Brazil. In Brazil, via Embratel, TV Globo
has leased 20 MHz on the INTELSAT 801 satellite at 328.5E for digital HDTV
transmissions. The service will be uplinked in Ku-band and downlinked in
C-band in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Within Brazil, the signal will be digitally
retransmitted to a number of exhibition sites, and represents the first
World Cup HDTV transmissions in Latin America.

PanAmSat Corporation has announced that nearly two dozen top broadcasters
and news agencies world-wide have chosen PanAmSat's global satellite system
for transmission of their World Cup '98 coverage, representing more than
15,000 hours of video transmission time to date. PanAmSat offers both
rights holders and non-rights holders satellite capacity, use of an
exclusive, state-of-the-art production and transmissions facility and the
ability to uplink live, directly from match stadiums, via any one of
PanAmSat's four dedicated mobile production units. 
Broadcasters and news agencies that have already booked capacity aboard
PanAmSat satellites for the duration of the 35-day event include Caracol of
Colombia; NHK of Japan; TVN of Chile; Univision of the United States;
Venevisión of Venezuela; and Organización de la Televisión Iberoamericana,
the Latin American broadcast union representing more than 20 countries.
Throughout France, broadcasters can access PanAmSat's PAS-1, PAS-3 and
PAS-5 Atlantic Ocean Region satellites and the PAS-4 Indian Ocean Region
satellite for the distribution of World Cup footage around the world in
both C-band and Ku-band frequencies. Official World Cup '98 rights holders
uplink to PanAmSat spacecraft from the Paris International Broadcast Center
(IBC), while non-rights holders and others requiring satellite-based
communications services have access to PanAmSat's production and satellite
transmission facility located directly across from the IBC. PanAmSat's
service offerings during the event also include 45 Megabits per second
digital video transmission capability, which provides video transmission
quality equal to or better than any terrestrial circuits. 

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