Sat-ND, 17.7.96

Sat-ND 96-07-17 - 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 ***

Soyuz rockets for Europe
The Russian satellite organisation RKA has signed a deal to set up a joint
venture with France's Aerospatiale and Arianespace. RKA will supply Soyuz
rockets which are capable of launching small satellites of up to 500kg
(1100lb). Starsam expects 450 launches until 2005, the Russian news agency
Itar-Tass reported today. 
Financial details weren't disclosed. Aerospatiale will hold a 35 percent
stake in the new venture, Arianespace a 15 percent stake. The Russian side
holds 50 percent. 

Italy's TV landscape to change following new legislation
The Italian government today introduced legislation to cut back the
influence of Silvio Berlusconi's TV channels as well as those of public
broadcaster RAI. 
By August 1997, both will have to reduce their share of advertising
revenues or licence fees in either the terrestrial, satellite or cable
television market to 30 percent.
As reported (Sat-ND, 12.7.96,) Berlusconi will have to move one of his
three channels from terrestrial to satellite or cable distribution. RAI
will be forced to split one of their three channels into a terrestrial
regional network.
New advertising rules, to be introduced in 1997, will also require
companies with more than two TV stations to cut air time for advertising
from 18 to 16 percent per hour. Alternatively, advertising time on one of
the channels in question may be cut by a third.
The new legislation will also open the way for the privatisation of the
state holding Stet. This may reduce the chance of both chambers of the
Italian parliament to pass the bill. At least in the lower house, the
government depends of the votes of the Communist Refoundation party, which
is opposed to the Stet sell-off.
The government has announced to put the bill into law by decree if it is
not ratified by the upper house before its August break.

Americatel switches to new beam on PAS 1
PanAmSat Corporation announced today that it had expanded an agreement
with Americatel Colombia S.A. for satellite capacity on the PAS 1
satellite at 45 W. The additional service triples the amount of satellite
capacity Americatel Colombia uses to provide telecommunications services
for businesses throughout Latin America. In addition, Americatel Colombia
has moved to the PAS 1 C-band beam that provides virtually total coverage
of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as access to the continental
United States. 
Americatel Colombia uses PanAmSat satellite capacity to provide private
domestic and international telephone, video conferencing and data
communications services to its business customers since 1992.

ABC to triple feed capacity on OPTUS B1
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has selected
Scientific-Atlanta's PowerVu(TM) digital video compression system to
distribute programming across Australia.
The Scientific-Atlanta MPEG-2/DVB system lets ABC increase its domestic
satellite transmission capacity without leasing additional transponder
space. The ABC currently uses a half transponder on the OPTUS B1 satellite
(160E) to transmit an analogue video signal. Once PowerVu is installed,
ABC will transmit three high-quality digital video signals using the same
All three digital video channels will be used for the ABC's interchange
network. One channel will also be used part time to replace an existing
regional microwave video network in the southern Australian state of
Victoria. The entire PowerVu digital compression network is scheduled for
completion by mid-November 1996.
PowerVu was selected ahead of other competitors after an extensive testing
program conducted by the ABC's senior broadcast engineers. In particular,
engineers rated PowerVu, "the digital compression system with the best
overall quality" after a series of blind tests with rival products. 
Only cynics (or Latin-speaking people like our contributor in Munich)
would call "blind tests" a contradictio in reo.

By Dr. Sarmaz (Ministry of Truth, Tierra Abajo)

Rupert buys twelve more TV stations
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. today unveiled plans to take over New World
Communications Group Inc. which owns 12 TV stations in the USA. News Corp.
already holds 17.9 percent of the group's shares.
Should the take-over go ahead as planned, Mr Murdoch would become the
biggest owner of TV stations in the USA, reaching about 40 percent of the
population terrestrially. New World also produces and distributes TV

Rupert interested in MGM library
Hollywood film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), famous for its roaring
lion, has new owners. Australia's Seven Network and US billionaire Kirk
Kerkorian will take over MGM, which was so far owned by a French
government holding company. Their bid amounted to US$1.3 billion while
using US$400 million of the studio's working capital. In effect, US$900 of
new funding will have to be raised of which Kerkorian will supply 650
Kerkorian has bought and sold MGM twice in the past 15 years, and every
time he was in control, he sold off parts of the studio. This may happen
again: Rupert Murdoch, who was also bidding for the company, has expressed
his interest in buying MGM's 1,500 movie library from the new owners.
The MGM history itself might be sufficient for a movie. Recent owners
didn't have too much luck, anyway. Kerkorian sold MGM to an Italian
financier by the name of Giancarlo Parretti in 1992, cashing in US$1.3
billion. The deal was financed by French bank Credit Lyonnais which took
over the studio after Parretti went bankrupt. But the task of rebuilding
the studios was too big for Credit Lyonnais which reportedly invested US$3
billion. Finally, the French government last year set up the Consortium de
Realisation (CDR) to sell the troubled assets of Credit Lyonnais.
But even just bidding for MGM can be dangerous. Actually, Seven Network
tried just that back in 1989 by offering US$1.5 million, leading the
owning company Qintex directly into bankruptcy. Seven was then controlled
by its creditors until it was refloated in 1993. Seizing the occasion, Mr.
Murdoch's News Corp. took a over a 15 percent stake. 
According to a Seven Network official commenting today's deal, "This time
we are using real money."

Dr Sarmaz - an impostor?
His Excellency, Chief of Government and Keeper of the whole Truth, Gen.
Aviator Spirito Abajo,  gave order and authorisation to me to inform you
that he installed no minister of truth, because he is the only keeper of
the whole truth. This again is a dirty trick from the dictatorship of the
unfree Valle de Saber Nada. 
It is also a false piece of information (published in issue 9/96 of
TELE-satellit) that Sir Rupert took over our beloved country, planning to
re-christen it Tierra Media. 
A. Prensa de Mentira (Press Officer of Tierra Abajo)

Golden Words
"Gold rush without the gold.
"Electronic mad cow's disease."
Dr. Helmut Thoma, head of Germany's most successful free-to-air channel
RTL, on digital pay-TV

Web Watch
By Grandpa Zheng

CompuServe subscribers have had enough
Maybe I'm a pervert, but to me it's much more fun to report losses. Here's
another one.
CompuServe Corp. expects a financial loss for the current quarter ending
July 31, admitting that its subscriber base has dropped by 1 percent. To
make this perfectly clear: For the first time in modern history, an online
service has reported to have less customers than before. 
CompuServe now counts 3.4 million subscribers, lagging far behind AOL with
6 million. CompuServe's new service WOW!, launched in March, has so far
attracted just 91,000 users. Prodigy still counts 1.4 million subscribers
while Bill Gate's MSN so far attracted 1.2 million customers.
According to an internal survey, CompuServe users cancelled the service
because of sluggish performance especially when logging into to the
service, navigation difficulties and a general lack of brand loyalty.

AOL Germany being investigated
German prosecutors are once again investigating an online service over
child pornography. This time it's America Online which is claimed to allow
the transmission of illicit material between users. In a statement, AOL
rejected accusations is was spreading child pornography. The service
shouldn't be held responsible for email messages sent by subscribers.
Besides: according to article 10 of the German constitution, AOL (as well
as anybody else) isn't allowed to monitor private messages without the
consent of a special parliamentary commission.
Speaking at a United Nations conference at the same time, Germany's
minister for family affairs called for international standards to prevent
pornographers and neo-Nazis from using the Internet. 
Minister Claudia Nolte said that "because the Internet knows no national
borders, we will be able to protect youth only through international
standards." It is very unclear what such standards would look like. Web
sites with right wing extremist content may be illegal when based in
Germany which has even banned the swastika, certainly not a Nazi
invention, from being shown in public. Such material, however, is
perfectly legal under US or Canadian law. Both countries will hopefully
not let Germany infringe on their freedom of speech standards. 
Besides, it is always amazing to see German politicians like Ms Nolte
mingle child pornographers with neo-Nazis which obviously haven't too much
in common.

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

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