Sat-ND, 21.6.96

RupertWatch -- June 21, 1996
(c) Copyright 1996 by Dr. Sarmaz

Welcome to yet another edition of RupertWatch, our daily newsletter solely
dedicated to the activities of the Australian-born media magnate. Watch
him adding country by country to his almost global television empire on
his thrilling journey around the world.

Big in Japan...
A few days after announcing a satellite TV package, Rupert Murdoch stroke
another television deal in Japan. His News Corp. will team up with Japan's
Softbank to buy a stake of 21.4 percent in Asahi Television, one of the
country's leading TV networks. Both will set up a joint venture by
September, taking over the shares from publishing house Obunsha Media for
US$439 million. Both companies said this is just the first step on their
way to launch various media businesses in Japan. However, they don't plan
to increase their stake in Asahi Television. Japanese laws ban foreigners
from holding more than 20 percent in broadcasting companies. Observers
cite this regulation as the main reason behind Murdoch's move to join
forces with Softbank, so far not involved in the TV business. US
publishing company Ziff-Davis, recently taken over by Softbank, plans to
launch television broadcasts in the USA on July 15.

...bigger in India
So, is Rupert Murdoch still in Japan? Of course not. On Wednesday, he
appeared in India, meeting Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda. He was
promising investments of US$1.4 billion if only he was allowed to
broadcast his Star TV package from within the country.
According to the Indian newspaper Business Standard, Murdoch presented
India's Prime Minister a blueprint of a TV production and satellite uplink
facility to be created at Tumkur. Neither the Prime Minister nor Star TV
had any comment on the paper's report. The Hindustan Times however said
that Deve Gowda told Murdoch that the government wouldn't mind Star TV
broadcasting from India, provided national laws and values were

Sat-ND 96-06-21 - Satellite and Media News

This service is provided free of charge for personal use. It may be
reproduced for non-commercial reasons only, provided the following notice
is included:
"(c) Copyright 1996 by Sat-ND, http://www.sat-net.com/pck/"
Please send any contributions and comments regarding Sat-ND to
Peter C. Klanowski, Fax +49-451-5820055, pck@LyNet.De

This issue is sponsored by TELE-satellite, Europe's Satellite Magazine 
Have a look at their homepage! >> http://www.TELE-satellit.com/ <<

Another one bites the dust
Nowadays, state funding for the Russian Space Agency (RSA) is just a tenth
of what it used to be at the end of the communist era. Reportedly, Russian
satellites have to be used beyond their designed lifetime, and the
cosmonauts aboard the Mir space station will once more have to stay there
longer than planned.
The badly needed money is expected to come from abroad. In 1995, RSA
already cashed in US$350 million from launching foreign satellites and
from allowing foreign astronauts to participate in its space missions.
Though there are hopes for increasing the commercial launch business, it
won't be easy to do so.
Yesterday, a Soyuz-U launcher failed the second time in a row. According
to news agency Itar-Tass, the "booster rocket with a KOSMOS military
satellite ran off the trajectory and failed to go out in space several
seconds after takeoff from Plesetsk," Russia's own cosmodrome. As usual, a
commission was set up to investigate the failure. The last failure
occurred in May 14 when a Soyuz-U was used to launch a KOSMOS satellite
from Kazakhtan's Baikonur cosmodrome.
Nonetheless, RSA plans further domestic satellite launches. A newly
designed EKSPRESS satellite is due to be launched his year. In 1997, one
GORIZONT and two EKSPRESS spacecrafts will follow.

Launching Matilda
Readers of Sat-ND do of course know names like Kourou, Baikonur, Cape
Canaveral and other satellite launch sites. There may be a new site very
soon  in Northern Australia, one of the few regions on earth suitable to
be used as a major launch site. Actually, the region's proximity to the
equator is expected to double payloads and thereby cut launch costs. 
The country's Industry Minister John Moore called the plan "an exciting
project, one which can place Australia at the centre of an international
space enterprise." Although there have been several similar plans before,
they all failed to get official approval owing to insufficient financial
backing. This time it's different, Moore said in a statement issued today.
"We have an opportunity to play a leading role in the space industry in
the Asia-Pacific region," he added.
Australian firm Space Transportation Systems Ltd., half owned by Thai
Satellite Communications, estimates the cost of the site at US$630
million. It plans to use the Russian Proton rocket for satellite launches.
The first launch is slated for 2000.

Public theme channels
While commercial companies are setting up digital packages with dozens of
theme channels respectively, German pubcasters ARD and ZDF prepare for the
TV future by setting up two niche channels. The first one, targeted at
children, is slated to launch in January 1997. Programming plans for the
second channel are still vague. Originally thought to transmit German and
European parliamentary debates, it is now expected to also show live
transmissions from events of any kind. In any case, the channel will be
launched during the first half of 1997. Commercial competitors have
already complained about the public children's channel, arguing it was
beyond the pubcasters' legal obligation to provide basic programming.

Transponder News
* Today, Russian news channel NTW could be received in excellent quality
in Berlin on GALS 1 (36E), 12.169 GHz rhc. Reception now should be
possible with dishes as small as 90 cm (35"). ACT seems to have ceased
transmitting at 11.844 GHz lhc.
* A spokesman of Deutsche Telekom has confirmed that the company is trying
to migrate services on their satellite DFS 3 (23.5E) from analogue to
digital. He also stated that this goal probably wouldn't be achieved by
the end of the year, as originally planned.
According to Telekom, their digital TV package is due to start next
autumn, but it is becoming increasingly improbable that a sufficient
number of decoders will be available by then. source added that the
competing package set up by Leo Kirch is likely to have the same problem.

* Rai Pico is no longer broadcasting on EUTELSAT II-F4M (7E), 11.080 GHz
v. (Norbert Schlammer)

Zeroes and Ones

Internet access, Cuban style
There's yet another country whose officials think they can limit access to
the Internet. The Communist Party newspaper of Cuba reported that such
regulations were adopted recently. However, censorship on a technical
basis will probably not be necessary because ordinary Cubans have no
chance to connect to the world-wide network anyway, given the country's
poor state of economy. But just to make sure, access was restricted to
organisations and individuals with relevance to the country's progress,
the paper said.

Sex, Lies and Online Services
It is probably not one of the commonly known facts that a German by the
name of Israel Beer Josaphat founded one of the first news agencies in the
world. Originally being Jewish, he was baptised a Christian later. He then
changed his name to Paul Julius Reuter, set up news agency in Aachen, and
in 1851 he moved to London. That's where a news agency by the name of
Reuters still is based today. 
However, more than 140 years later, the agency's output on Germany
probably isn't quite as accurate as back then. Just today, it claimed that
"Germany has recently (banned) entire discussion groups" on the Internet.
Sorry, dear colleagues, but that's complete rubbish. Europeans are of
course used to get this kind of over-simplified view by North American
news outlets, but now it seems as though even the glorified Anglo-Saxon
journalism is going down the drain, too.
Actually, neither the German government nor anybody else in this country
has banned any Internet newsgroup, simply because it isn't possible to do
so under existing law. It is true that the country's largest online
service, T-Online, has decided not to offer any newsgroup containing adult
material. It is also true that other Internet providers in Germany have
set up a central server designed to monitor and archive postings to
newsgroups (Sat-ND, 17.6.96.) There may be a ban on British beef, but no,
there is definitely no Government ban on any newsgroup whatsoever. 
It is interesting to notice that all those false claims spread by
international media for more than six months can be traced back to an
inaccurate press release issued by American online service CompuServe last
year, claiming German authorities had forced them to shut down certain
news groups. Wrong. Soon after that, CompuServe admitted that the company
itself had blocked access to those groups as a reaction to investigations
by German prosecutors while never being forced or ordered to do so  quite
a difference. In fact, CompuServe re-established access to most news
groups a few weeks later.

Thanks to our contributors --
Dr. Sarmaz: TAbajo@aol.com
Norbert Schlammer: 100415.3560@compuserve.com

Copyright 1996 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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