Sat-ND, 26.6.96

Sat-ND 96-06-26 - Satellite and Media News

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Turning Japanese

"Some information of all types will be broadcast by satellite."
(William H. Gates III, Microsoft Corp.)

The first attempt by software giant Microsoft to set up an online service
of their own turned out to be not as successful as the company had hoped 
and as others had feared. Now he's trying something new, but the target
area is Japan. Microsoft will set up an online service there together with
Japanese game-maker Nintendo Co. Ltd. and Japanese think tank Nomura
Research Institute Ltd. The three companies will each hold a third of the
joint venture which is said to be worth 1 billion (US$9 million.)
To avoid the national telephone monopoly NTT (Nippon Telegraph and
Telephone Corp.) and its high rates, the service will be made available on
satellite. "It will be possible to access information by satellite in a
very easy manner," promised Nintendo's President Hiroshi Yamauchi.
Currently, online services in Japan are most frequently accessed only
after 11 p.m. local time when phone rates become cheaper.
Microsoft will provide billing services and satellite modem support. The
Nomura Institute, research arm of Japan's biggest securities house, will
oversee the entire system. Nintendo in this deal is more than just a
partner to fill in some local know-how. It will provide the basic software
as well as, through one of its affiliates, a satellite uplink. At a news
conference today in Tokyo, no clue was given on which satellite will be
There's a slight problem, though. None of the existing satellites is able
to provide bi-directional services for online services. Thus, users will
still have to use a modem and a telephone line for the back channel that
will be routed via Microsoft's MSN on-line computer network.
Subscribers will, of course, also have access to that service. No further
details were given on the content, except that "some information of all
types..." -- see above. Nonetheless, Bill Gates assured that "If I spoke
Japanese I would want to subscribe to it myself."

One of the largest Japanese newspapers, Asahi Shimbun, last weekend said
that the joint venture between media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and Masayoshi
Son, president of Softbank Corp. "marks the beginning of a media war in
Japan." Another paper, Mainichi Shimbun, pointed out that "the episode
also revealed an appalling weakness in Japan's broadcasting system."
Others may exploit that weakness as well. Satellite broadcaster Asia
Business News today announced a 24-hour business news television channel
for the Japanese market, teaming up with the local news agency Kyodo and
Jupiter Programming Ltd., a programming and cable-distribution company.
The channel, due to start in early 1997, will carry specific Japanese
programming as well as content taken over from Asia Business News. 
Asia Business News is owned by Dow Jones & Co. and US cable company TCI,
each holding a 49.25 percent stake. The remaining 1.5 percent share is
owned by Business News Network Ltd. from Hong Kong.

Spectrum sharing
''It's a great, great thing. Everything's breaking our way." That's how
American Mobile Satellite Vice President Lon Levin reacted to an
announcement by US regulators saying it may assign more bandwidth to his
company's mobile satellite communications services, offered on a satellite
launched about a year ago.
The problem has been known for some time: There are too many services in
this sector of the satellite business yet. Everybody wants their portion
of the airwave spectrum, and the US Federal Communications Commission
plays a major role in allocating them  not only in North America.
Last week, an international memorandum of understanding was signed in
Mexico City, allowing the various competitors to trade parts of their
bandwidth. Today, the FCC said it was considering assigning 28 MHz more of
the frequency spectrum to American Mobile Satellite Corp. in the lower L
band. So far, the company had been licensed to use 28 MHz bandwidth in the
upper L band. The new frequency slot still has to co-ordinated
internationally. The FCC hopes to have a better bargaining position there
because it can base its claim on a real system backed by actual business
Shareholders of American Mobile Satellite include Hughes Electronics
Corp., AT&T Corp., Mobile Telecommunications Technologies Corp., and
Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. 

BBC World Service in search of additional revenues
BBC World Service is thinking of setting up a digital all-news radio
channel, available to paying subscribers such as radio stations or cable
companies. So far, the freely available BBC World Service does not only
carry news, but also cultural and educational programming.
However, this is just an idea brought forward by the station's managing
director Sam Younger at a meeting of Britain's Royal Institute of
International Affairs. Similar digital services in foreign languages such
as French and German existed but had to be discarded owing to insufficient
revenues from subscribers.
While the new subscriber service again is clearly aimed at making some
additional money, it is yet unclear whether this will be enough.
In March, the BBC announced a cut in operating costs by 10 percent on its
World Service, which attracts 140 million listeners around the globe.
Government funding for the World Service will be reduced by almost 5
percent during the next three years. The budget cuts will cause some more
foreign language services to be discontinued, and staff numbers are
expected to be reduced from 2,000 to 800. In addition, the English
language services will have to pay for BBC programming they take over. The
World Service, still relatively autonomous, will in future be managed by
the BBC Worldwide division.

Transponder News
By Norbert Schlammer

* According to Martin van der Ven, services on INTELSAT 510 (57E) were
due to be switched to INTELSAT 703 located at the same position tonight.
* On PAS 3R (68.5E), a new Indian music channel launched at 4.181 GHz v.
The same frequency, albeit in horizontal polarisation mode, is already
used by MTV Asia. Clear PAL is used, audio is located at 7.56 and 7.74
* Sudan TV re-appeared on INTELSAT 512 (21.4E) at 3.74 GHz rhc. Reception
should be possible with 180cm dishes (6 ft.).

Zeroes and ones

Mirror man
German news magazine Der Spiegel will re-launch its Web site next
Saturday. The company's multimedia activities will taken over by art +
information GmbH & Co, a subsidiary of Der Spiegel's broadcasting division
Spiegel TV. "We're on the way to becoming a multimedia publishing house,"
a company executive said.
Spiegel TV's programmes, broadcast on various of the German commercial
channels, will be made available in a World Wide Web version. In a first
step, the news produced for TV channel Vox will "directly be converted
into online content", said Stefan Aust, Der Spiegel's Editor-in-Chief .
Owing to the lack of bandwith in the WWW, there will be just texts and
stills available, but no video footage.
Der Spiegel hopes to cash in some revenue from its online services within
two years. While "Spiegel Online" counts 225,000 visits per month on its
Web site, the general interest magazine Stern records just 115,000. TV
magazines like TV Today and TV Movie record between 70,000 and 75,000
monthly visits each.

AOL to introduce junk mail
Are you an AOLer? Expect to become the target of advertisers. America
Online Inc. yesterday announced it will start tracking its users. The
company pointed out that no individual data will leave the house. However,
it seems that under a deal with Nielsen Media Research at least a database
of AOL members including age and location details will be given away. This
would make no sense at all if the members' email addresses weren't
AOL users might soon experience what has been happening to CompuServe
members for a few months. They usually find one or two pieces of junk mail
a day in their mailbox. However, this is probably not the result of any
deal involving CompuServe. The problem seems to be that CompuServe
addresses, consisting just of nine or ten numbers, can easily be generated
by a simple computer programme. The junk mail is then sent out with no
regard to whether a particular address really exists or not. On the
Internet, you don't have to pay for returned mail. 

Re: Sat-ND, 25.6.96
Are you aware that this VBI service (ex Channel VIDEODAT) will be
reanimated by and on DEUTSCHE WELLE TV from July 1, as "DW-DIRECT" by the
same guy who started it and went bust... Michael Wiegand? (Thomas

No, but good news anyway... I still have a decoder here! I definitely hope
that Mr Wiegand is a bit more lucky this time -- DW TV definitely seems to
have the money he needs. German tax payers will be happily providing it as
DW is almost completely dependent on government funding.
Anyway, reception of the service via ASTRA (Pro 7, Vox) never was to well
even on a 90cm dish (35"). Wonder what it will be like on EUTELSAT.

Thanks to our contributors 
Thomas Quilling: thomas_Quilling@CCGATE.GTSGROUP.COM
Norbert Schlammer: 100415.3560@compuserve.com

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

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