Sat-ND, 28.6.96

Sat-ND 96-06-28 - Satellite and Media News

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"(c) Copyright 1996 by Sat-ND, http://www.sat-net.com/pck/"
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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/ <<

Confusion following Supreme Court ruling
The US today upheld part of a law allowing cable television firms to
refuse to show sexually explicit programmes on certain channels. It
authorises them to refuse any indecent material on public access channels
(PEG), at least one of which is available in every US cable network.
But other parts of the 1992 Cable Television Consumer Protection Act,
sponsored by conservative North Carolina Republican Jesse Helms, were
struck down by the Supreme Court. Cable operators were obliged to set up a
separate channel for indecent programming and scramble it unless a
subscriber requested it in writing. This provision was declared
unconstitutional as well as certain restrictions for public, educational,
and governmental channels.
"Coupled with the recent federal ruling against Internet censorship, this
decision delivers a real one-two punch to the religious right, which has
prompted these censorship attempts," said Elliot Mineberg, legal director
and general counsel of "People for the American Way." This group had,
amongst others, challenged the Cable Television Consumer Protection Act.
Another group challenging the law, Media Access Project, seems not that
otimistic. It said in a statement that "the Supreme Court has left the
public with more, not less, doubt about how the First Amendment applies to
cable TV. But at least public access channels have gained the freedom they
need to serve as America's electronic town square."

Giga Zap
German media authorities have okayed two more theme channels. Giga TV is a
24-hour channel for computer freaks, whereas Zap TV is a German version of
the USA's Prevue Channel. It is yet unclear whether both channels will
start, when and on what satellite they will be launched. There are, of
course, some EUTELSAT transponders available for analogue transmissions.
However, a EUTELSAT-only strategy makes no sense at all without cable
distribution, and even an ASTRA transponder probably won't be sufficient.
Unfortunately, German cable networks are already crammed with other TV
channels. Even worse, each of the country's sixteen partial states has
different rules for allocating cable channels to broadcasters. 

Intelsat standard out of fashion
There are first signs for a saturation in the market for certain satellite
uplink stations. Spar Aerospace Ltd. from Mississauga, Ontario announced
it will be discontinuing its Major Systems satellite earth station
operations, supplying systems integration for Intelsat standard-type earth
stations. According to Spar, a manufacturer of aerospace, communications
and software products, the market is declining.

By Dr. Sarmaz

American Sky Broadcasting and SkyMCI have chosen a site in Arizona for an
advanced satellite and data uplink facility and broadcast operations
centre. Both companies are joint ventures between Rupert Murdoch's News
Corp. and MCI Communications Corp. Their digital TV package is expected to
be launched on two direct broadcast satellites (DBS) within two or three
years from now. 
In January, MCI paid US$682.5 million for the last remaining DBS license
it won at a Federal Communications Commission auction.

It wasn't a real surprise that the encryption technology used by DirecTV,
the first direct broadcast satellite system, was cracked. The technology
was supplied by Rupert Murdoch's News Datacom Ltd who has also had serious
problems keeping Murdoch's analogue BSkyB channels, solely intended for
the UK and Ireland, from being watched on the Continent.
DirecTV and News Datacom now have filed a civil suit against 22
individuals and entities who allegedly made and sold pirate cards that
allowed users to receive DirecTV programming signals without payment and
thus illegally, at least in the USA.

Zeroes and ones

Freedom of speech? Oh well, ask Bill. Microsoft Corp chairman Bill Gates
today spoke at a news conference to mark the launch of the Chinese version
of Windows NT 3.51. Of course, the Internet was an issue.
What did Mr Gates say? Not this: "China is attempting to restrict
political expression broadly, in the name of security and social
stability. It requires users of the Internet and electronic mail to
register." No, no  that was just what he wrote in his column in the New
York Times on March 27, 1996.
Today, he had this to say: "Every country has some issue about what kind
of publishing they want to restrict on the Internet, be it pornography or
political statements; lots of governments are wrestling with this. We
think that some approach will be found inside companies or inside the
country whereby there will be widespread use of the Internet without any
difficulties." Read: Never mind, let's do business.
China is expected to have 120,000 Internet users, who are required to
register with the police, by the end of 1996. The number of is expected to
reach one million by the end of 2000  less than 0.1 percent of the
country's population.

The Web Site of MSNBC, the planned news channel by Microsoft and NBC, was
down yesterday. Or rather, it wasn't just down, it was kicked out of
cyberspace. According to InterNIC, the organisation that registers
Internet addresses, the domain name msnbc.com was on hold. MSNBC obviously
forget to pay the US$100 required of anybody who wants to register a
domain name. However, the site was available again today.
MSNBC's television channel is due to launch mid-July, replacing NBC's
America's Talking in cable networks.

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

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