Sat-ND, 16.7.96

Sat-ND 96-07-16 - 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/ <<

*** Sat-ND summer break: August 1 to August 15 ***

Take Five
French Minister François Fillon has indicated that there may be a third
evaluation flight of Europe's new launcher Ariane 5. According to French
newspaper Les Echos, the Minister expects one or two test flights to be
carried out within a time frame of six to nine months. He said that the
cause of the malfunction of the launcher on its maiden flight did not put
the new rocket design into question.
The official report on flight 501, delivered by an independent commission,
 will be made public next Monday.

European channels comply with EU directives
A majority of European TV channels still complies with a directive issued
by the European Commission, requiring stations to air a majority of
European programmes -- where practicable. 91 out of 148 stations (61
percent) devote more than 50 percent of their airtime to European
programming. However, four years ago 67 percent of the stations complied
with the directive.
The rate has declined because new stations with specialist programming
have been launched since then. According to a EU commission statement,
most "mainstream terrestrial broadcasters achieved, or exceeded, the
majority proportion." 
Ironically, the European version of US music channel MTV has for long
years been the leader in obeying the directive: Almost all of its
programming originated from London, Europe. In the meantime, it has even
started localised versions for certain European countries.
The Commission ant the European parliament recently tried to make the
quota mandatory by abandoning the "where practicable" clause. So far, both
of them could not convince a majority of national governments to support a
strengthening of rules.

Australia to sell off Asian TV channel
There's a new (conservative) government in Australia, and like most new
(conservative) governments, it is trying to cut costs. In order to do so,
it announced to sell Australia Television, targeted at an Asian audience
that so far refused to tune in in vast numbers. Communications Minister
Richard Alston has come to the conclusion that "whilst there are
expatriates and others who might find some aspects of [Australia
Television's] news and current affairs quite interesting when they get
homesick, there isn't a great deal of interest."
Critics have pointed out that the channel, set up to foster* ties with
Asia, was culturally insensitive when trying to attract Asian viewers by
airing home-made soap operas and sitcoms. It is operated by state
broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC.)
* Foster's, famous Australian beer

C-SPAN tries to be fair
The US Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network C-SPAN, partly available in
many other parts of the world thanks to the US Information agency, has
experienced problems with some call-in shows. Although President Clinton
leads the most recent poll with a comfortable margin, C-SPAN callers so
far have been mostly anti-Clinton. Five out of six expressed their
disapproval with Clinton, which may give audience researchers a strong
hint about who's watching the channel, anyway.
In an effort to re-establish fairness, C-SPAN is experimenting a reshuffle
of their three phone lines which were so far been divided by (US) regions.
Now, they will be used to separate Democrats, Republicans, and others.
This will allow on-air calls to be alternated between pro-Clinton,
anti-Clinton and others.
"All we are trying to achieve is balance and getting as many different
points of view as we can," a C-SPAN spokeswoman said yesterday.

Golden Words
"I now have a TV in my office, and I'm watching MSNBC."
William H. ("Bill") Gates III, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft Corp., reported
to hate TV

Sorry, Bill, but we have to call in the critics again. They say your
channel is nothing new apart from the Internet thingy and the NBC news
stuff. The rest, they say, is nothing but America's Talking which was
supposed to be replaced by MSNBC (and not to be copied by it.)
And a lot of Cybertalk emerged on the issue of your MSNBC Web Site not
being launched as planned, leaving Web Surfers just with the remark "We
are experiencing technical difficulties. Please stay tuned" for 90
minutes. Some say, and this seems to be the semi-official version, that
there were so many news at this site that the server just couldn't bear
it. (Windows NT?) Others say that the site's content wasn't too well
prepared and aroused problems with, guess what, Microsoft's Internet

The all-news confusion
The all-news channel frenzy in the US creates new rumours. Introducing his
joint venture with Microsoft, NBC president and CEO Bob Wright told a news
conference that "TCI and Time Warner are going to announce on Wednesday
that they have formed some sort of alliance to support a new news service
which will be financed by Fox."
Time Warner executives were quoted as saying "as of Friday there was no
deal" and that "there's no truth to this Wednesday announcement rumour."
Nonetheless, so far nobody seems to have denied negotiations although a
deal like that seems mostly unlikely. Rupert Murdoch plans his Fox news
channel as a conservative alternative to Ted Turner's CNN. The problem is
that TCI is a shareholder with Turner Broadcasting, and Time-Warner is
just trying to buy Turner Broadcasting  a deal that is currently examined
by the US Federal Trade Commission FTC. 
Still, Murdoch pays TCI an unprecedented amount of US$20 per subscriber to
its planned news channel, and it will also allow TCI to take a 20 percent
stake in the venture.

GPS satellite to be replaced
A new satellite for the Global Positioning System (GPS) was launched today
aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida, USA.
The spacecraft will replace one of the 24 GPS satellites experiencing
degraded performance, thus keeping the GPS at full operational

Telesat still sees open door for TCI venture
Telesat Canada, the satellite operator chosen by US cable giant TCI to
carry digital TV services for North America, plays it cool. Although the
project has been rejected by the US Federal Communications Commission
(FCC), Telesat thinks the door is still open. The FCC said that the
bidders may re-apply for a license once they've got approval from Canadian
authorities. Actually, Canadian Industry Minister John Manley has
indicated his approval, but only under certain conditions  one of which
was an FCC license. ''Now the decision rests squarely with Industry
Canada,'' said Telesat president Larry Boivert.

Web Watch
By Grandpa Zheng

Netscpape loses five percent of market share
The dominance of Netscape's Navigator software has eroded slightly in
July, according to data collected by independent Web tracking company
Intersé. (Did you know that the spell checker of Microsoft Word doesn't
know the word Netscape?) In June, 78.2 percent of netizens used Netscape
software to browse the World Wide Web, five percent less that in May.
Microsoft's (the spell checker knows this one) Internet Explorer (IE)
gained 1.3 percent and is now holds 8.3 percent of the market.
An interesting detail is that the beta versions of Netscape Navigator 3
aren't too popular with users. Two out of three Netscape users still have
version 2 running on their computer. It's a different picture with IE
users: roughly two thirds already use the latest version 3 (which, of
course, if the first IE version that comes somewhat close to the
Navigator.) On the other hand, Navigator 3 is crammed with gimmicks,
blowing the size of the setup file up to several megabytes. And as far as
I know, Netscape has expressively forbidden its Navigator software to be
included on CD-ROMs, leaving a lengthy and costly download as the only
access possibility. 

Testing, one, two...
Microsoft today introced the second beta version of its Web browser,
Internet Explorer 3. It seems to have a host of promising new features 
too much to enumerate them here. Just one example: Java applets are
supported by using a just-in-time compiler, working up to 30% faster than
Netscape Navigator's JIT compiler.

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

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