Sat-ND, 12.7.96

Sat-ND 96-07-12 - Satellite and Media News

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This issue is sponsored by TELE-satellite, Europe's Satellite Magazine 
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Court annuls exclusive EBU rights
Sometime court rulings are difficult to understand. Sometimes, they're
easy to summarise. And sometimes, both applies at the same time.
The European Court yesterday scrapped a decision made by the European
Commission, allowing the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to buy
exclusive television rights to sports events. Summary: Good for commercial
stations and media companies, bad for the TV audience.
And this is what makes the judgement so hard to understand at the same
time. The exclusive rights for the 67 (mostly) public broadcasters of the
EBU so far guaranteed that everybody in Europe would be able to watch
major sports events without paying additional fees.
The court, however, has annulled the Commission decision of 11 June 1993
which allowed the EBU to negotiate exclusive rights to transmit sports
events on grounds of a five-year exemption from the European Union's
competition rules.
A spokesman for EU commissioner Karel Van Miert announced that "we are
going to analyse what the Court of First Instance said and we will see
what action we take or not." The EBU claimed that the EU commission did
not do their homework. The European court pointed out that the EU
commission was allowed to grant competition exemption decisions on
considerations of public interest. "However, in the present case it should
have shown that such considerations required exclusivity of rights to
transmit sports events."
In a separate case, the European Court ruled that new commercial TV
stations must be given a fair chance to join the EBU. French TV channel
TF1, privatised in the mid 1980s, is still an active member, and (believe
it or not) even pay-TV channel Canal Plus is. German commercial station
RTL also was an EBU member prior to the move from Luxembourg to Germany.

Pay per soccer match
What happens when commercial media companies buy the rights for major
sport events? European viewers will have to wait until 2002 when Leo Kirch
and his Swiss Partner Sporis will broadcast the football (soccer) World
It's quite obvious that nobody knows what the TV landscape will look like
then. Nonetheless, according to German TV magazine Monitor there are no
guarantees that the World Cup matches will not end being shown up in pay
per view channels. 
On July 5, the World Football Association's General secretary Joseph
S.Blatter issued a press release, claiming that "Pay-per-view television
is excluded. FIFA will ensure that the public will be able to watch the
World Cup without paying specifically for the privilege. Distribution will
be via free TV, without special fees."
Yesterday, Blatter was quoted by Monitor as saying it depended on how the
markets would evolve. The contract between Kirch/Sporis and FIFA does not
exclude pay per view services from televising the World Cup matches,
Monitor said.

Kirch rules
Leo Kirch's shopping spree continues. The German media magnate now holds a
majority stake in the Italian pay-TV group Telepiù. Kirch already was the
largest single Telepiù shareholder. After taking over a 23.4 percent stake
from Renato Della Valle, he now holds 57 percent. Financial details were
not disclosed.
Kirch's latest acquisitions include TV rights for the football (soccer)
World Cup (US$2.2 billion) and two output deals with US majors (estimated
US$1.4 billion in total.) He is also interested in a stake in British
pay-TV company BSkyB. His digital TV package for German-speaking
countries, DF1, is expected to take up another US$700 million.
Kirch Group denied rumours it would give up their stakes in Telepiù or the
Italian TV holding Mediaset where it holds 6.2 percent. Mediaset is
controlled by the former Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who
wants to sell off parts of his media empire following criticism from other
political parties.

Berlusconi, RAI may keep three channels
The Italian TV landscape will probably not change drastically, according
to draft legislation for the telecommunications and television sector. The
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported today that both
Berlusconi's Mediaset as well as the public broadcaster RAI will be
allowed to keep three channels respectively. While RAI will have to split
one of its channels into regional networks, Mediaset faces the somewhat
easier task of shifting one of their channels to cable or satellite.
Additionally, the company will be required to reduce their share of the
advertising market to 30 percent. Besides, Mediaset was granted another
extension to comply with the existing norms on ownership of television
channels. The current extension would have expired next month.

Cheaper boxes
Will digital set-top boxes finally become cheaper? Probably. EchoStar 
Communications Corp. today introduced the second generation of its
MPEG-2/DVB-compliant receivers, produced at a significantly lower cost.
"These new boxes are assembled with higher levels of integration of chips
compared to the first generation of receivers that were introduced in
March," said Mark Jackson, EchoStar's vice president engineering.
EchoStar engineers integrated twelve chips into one, dubbed M2TL. The
first purpose of the M2TL is breaking up the satellite signal into three
separate streams of audio, video, and other data. Secondly, it descrambles
the satellite signal.  And additionally, it provides general control
functions for the receiver, seamlessly interfacing with other internal
According to Mark Jackson, "EchoStar engineering staff designed the M2TL
chip to provide faster and more efficient internal processing along with
significantly reducing our overall system price." The chip will also be
made available to other MPEG 2/DVB system suppliers.

Transponder News
By Norbert Schlammer <100415.3560@compuserve.com>

ASTRA, 19.2E
Petr Hora reports that ASDA FM can be heard at 10.877 GHz v, sound
subcarrier 7.38 MHz. 
According to Karl-Michael Gierich, subcarrier 6.50 MHz on the N3
transponder now carries a tape loop announcing the launch of several ADR
(digital radio) channels from North German pubcaster NDR.

INTELSAT 512, 21.4W
Several new transponders were fired up today in the C band, all of which
carried video feeds from Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Feeds were in NTSC with
sound on subcarriers 6.20 and 6.80 MHz. In detail: 4.054 GHz, BBC Atlanta;
3.886 GHz, EBU Multi 2 Atlanta IBC; 3.930 GHz, ZDF. A blank carrier was
seen at 4.139 GHz lhc. Other video feeds could be observed at 4.138 GHz

Yesterday, I was too lazy to type off the list of digital frequencies on
EUTELSAT. Should you be interested in that, Holger Zeissler has included
them in his extensive satellite frequency list.

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

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