Sat-ND, 26.7.96

Sat-ND 96-07-26 - 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 ***

Kirch's dekoder konfusion
The interested public expected good news from a press conference held
today. But apart from announcing a common decoder for digital TV, it just
created more confusion: As from 1997, there won't be two but even three
different set-top boxes in Germany.
Media magnate Leo Kirch and the media group Bertelsmann will, once again,
try to establish a common standard for digital set-top boxes. The first
attempt was aborted after Kirch decided to go ahead with his own service
DF1 which will be launched next Sunday. Both companies will try once again
now, and they do so probably just in order to save Germany's only pay-TV
channel premiere.
premiere is held by Bertelsmann's subsidiary Ufa (37.5 percent,)
Bertelsmann's long-time partner Canal Plus (37.5 percent,) and Leo Kirch
(25 percent.) The channel so far has attracted 1.2 million subscribers in
Germany and Austria, giving it a key role in introducing digital pay-TV
services on the market. And that's why Rupert Murdoch, designated
49-percent shareholder in DF1, will probably get a 25 percent stake. Ufa
and Canal Plus are expected to reduce their shares to 25 percent
respectively. Should Mr Murdoch decide otherwise, the other three
shareholders will take a third each.
But what about all the decoders then? Well, anything goes. Leo Kirch's
d-box will be available in the shops as from tomorrow for a retail price of
DM890 (US$550), far less that the expected DM1100 (US$690.) Bertelsmann
will introduce its Mediabox (also known as Seca,) developed in co-operation
with Canal Plus, next* autumn. And next year, who knows, there might be a
common decoder -- no deal has yet been signed. According to Bertelsmann,
many detail problems remain to be solved.
The common decoder will be distributed by Primus, a joint venture of
retailer Metro and the private telecommunications provider Vebacom. Both
will also be distributing the d-box. Deutsche Telekom AG and debis AG, a
subsidiary of Daimler-Benz, may join Primus. Both are members of the MMBG,
a group of broadcasters and telecommuniciations companies favouring the
Deutsche Telekom's cable viewers will have access to all digital TV
packages. A dual scrambling method called Simulcrypt will be used, allowing
the use of any of the known decoders for reception. However, latest news
was that this software solution unfortunately does not work yet. Besides,
there's absolutely not enough bandwidth left in German cable nets to carry
all digital packages completely.
* Or rather, _this_ autumn, considering local weather

Warner may take a stake in DF1
The Wall Street Journal reports that Leo Kirch has secured rights to
distribute a package of Warner's feature films on German pay television.
The deal, worth an estimated US$800 million, was reported by German media
earlier this week. However, Warner Bros. International Television president
Jeffrey R. Schlesinger announced that his company will also buy a 5% to 10%
stake in Kirch's digital service DF1. Furthermore, the agreement calls for
a German version of the Warner Channel to be carried in DF1.
Apart from Warner and Rupert Murdoch, DF1 is very likely to see more new
shareholders in the future. It is the same strategy Leo Kirch also set up
when introducing commercial TV in Germany. He only held a modest stake in
the channels, thus paying only a small proportion of the initial losses. At
the same time. he was already cashing in money for the programming he

Hughes, Olivetti launch VSAT service
Hughes Olivetti Telecom, a joint venture of Hughes Network System and Ing.
C. Olivetti & C. SpA has inaugurated a satellite uplink station for its
VSAT (very small aperture terminals) services in Griesheim, Germany. In
addition to the seven-metre (23-ft.) antenna, six more dishes are planned.
Other regional hubs will be located in London and Milan. 
The Griesheim uplink is located in the vicinity of the Opel car factory in
Rüsselsheim. Opel as well as Hughes Network System are both subsidiaries of
General Motors. But the new VSAT service also provides satellite
telecommunications services for Volkswagen AG dealers in Europe and for
Deutsche Automobil Treuhand, a service provider for the German car

Special thanks to Holger Zeissler and Thomas Kubaczewski for their faxes!

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

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