Sat-ND, 30.7.96

Sat-ND 96-07-29 - 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 ***

Digital TV, but no decoders
German retailers experienced mixed reactions following the launch of the
country's first digital TV service DF1. While a few shops reported the
necessary decoder sold out by the afternoon, some did not note any demand
while others still waited for the decoders to arrive. Estimating from
reports, only a few thousands of d-boxes were available today. Some
retailers expressed their discontent with the DF1 hype while at the same
time its distributor Primus has not been able to supply decoders in
reasonable numbers. 
German TV channel Pro Sieben, which plans to use the d-box for a
seven-channel package itself, described the DF1 launch a failure in its
main news show today. This statement is even more astonishing as the son of
DF1's main shareholder Leo Kirch is the main investor in Pro Sieben. Pro
Sieben news also informed possible buyers that they will have to have
access to a telephone connection in the vicinity of the decoder, usually
placed on top of the TV set (hence the name "set-top box".) The telephone
line is used to communicate with the DF1 billing centre when ordering
pay-per-view programming. And many viewers may have to replace some parts
of their satellite reception equipment, so-called LNBs, in order to receive
the "digital" ASTRA satellites at 19.2E.
All this adds up to the cost of receiving digital TV. The price for the
decoders was expected to be between DM1,100 and DM1,500. Instead, their
sold for just under DM900 which probably means that they are subsidised by
DF1 shareholders, so far including Leo Kirch and Rupert Murdoch, or
somebody else. Murdoch's BSkyB subsidised reception equipment in the early
years of satellite TV in the UK.

China pays for launch failures
Subsidies again. China has set up not only a new, but in fact the first
state-owned insurance group in order to secure future satellite launches.
According to news agency Xinhua, the People's Property Insurance Company of
China (PICC) is to insure two satellites due to be sent into orbit later
this year in a US$228 million deal clinched today in Beijing.
It includes CHINASAT 7, a satellite manufactured by US company Hughes to
replace the ageing CHINASAT 5 (ex-SPACENET 1, 116E,) as well as
DONGFANGHONG (DFH) 3R. The name of the satellite, designed and manufactured
in China, translates to "The east is red." It will substitute DFH 3, which
failed to reach a geostationary orbit in 1994 as a result of premature fuel
exhaustion. DFH 3R is scheduled to be launched later this year. 

Channel 5 twiddles viewers' knobs
It is probably the strangest task any broadcaster had to face in the
history of television yet. The UK's fifth terrestrial station, Channel 5,
will have to retune video recorders, satellite receivers and cable decoders
in 9.6 million homes before going on air in five months' time. Many
transmitters of their terrestrial network use frequencies that might
interfere with devices connected to TV sets -- in case they're using the
antenna input rather than a direct video connection.
And they have to do it soon. Should Channel 5 fail to retune the devices in
90 percent of the households concerned by January 1, the country's TV
watchdog body ITC simply won't let it go on air. 
Today, Channel 5 revealed its plans to get the job done in time. 7,000
"retuners" will be hired, but applicants will have their claims about
criminal convictions checked against police records. Besides, they will
wear a uniform, be over 25 years of age, have an identity card, know a
unique appointment number contained in a letter to the households involved,
and also offer a password service.
Nonetheless, there still are fears of criminals exploiting the retuning
scheme for their own purposes. "It is virtually inevitable that those who
traditionally prey on the elderly and the single will use the Channel 5
engineering programme to gain entry to homes or to try to charge fees for
wholly unnecessary retuning," said Conservative media committee chairman
Roger Gale. "I am particularly concerned for those, especially the elderly,
who live [...] in areas that will not receive Channel 5 and will therefore
not be part of the programme at all."
ITV, the country's first commercial channel, has claimed a recent pilot
programme failed to hit targets last month. Channel 5's "retuners" had
managed to get into just 61 percent of homes, and only 49 percent of
targeted households had their VCRs retuned successfully.
Channel 5, backed by investors such as Pearson Plc and Luxembourg's CLT,
will finally reach just three quarters of the UK's viewing population.
Financial details of the retuning scheme were not disclosed, but
unconfirmed predictions start at 55 million.

Pay-TV in Brazil
According to Jornal do Brasil, the Abril group will officially launch its
direct-to-home television service within two months. 73 TV and 30 audio
channels will be offered initially. The service is already operating 45 TV
channels on an experimental basis via GALAXY 3R (95W.) So far, Abril's
television unit TVA has failed to get a license by the Ministry of
Communications for the audio channels though.
TVA's rival Globosat (a subsidiary of Globo, the largest TV network outside
the USA) had announced to offer a similar service starting in August. A
third Brazilian company, NetSat, has announced to launch 140 pay-TV
channels as well as 30 pay-per-view channels next February.

Hot Bird, ARABSAT news
By Igor Uvodic
I have some additional information about EUTELSAT Hot Bird 2, which should
be launched on October 15. It is well known that EDTV Dubai and RTP are
going to transmit analogue on this satellite. There is a third possible
candidate for analogue transmission: ART Europe. My friend got a nice
brochure from ART Television, saying that this program (known from EUTELSAT
II F3 - 16E) already reserved a transponder on this satellite. 
I have also some information about the new Arabsat 2A (26E) satellite.
Programmes in C-band should be perfectly received with antennas 180 or 240
cm (6 to 8 ft.) in Western Europe. In the Eastern part, 180 cm (6 ft.) will
suffice. Transmissions in the Ku band will definitely not be received in
western parts of Europe, even with 360 cm ( 12 ft.) dishes.

Transponder News
By Norbert Schlammer
* DR2 from Denmark will launch on August 30 on INTELSAT 709 (1W),
according to a test card carried at 11.666 GHz v in D2-MAC.
* NEPC Television is now broadcast 24 hours a day on INTELSAT 703 (57E) at
4.058 GHz lhc in PAL, sound subcarrier 6.6 MHz. For further inquiries, the
following are given: 022-6102540 (Mumbai,) 033-4755660 (New Delhi,)
044-4344580 (Madras,) 044-4331029 (Fax.)
* German public broadcaster ARD uses its digital radio feed in ASTRA
digital radio format for transmissions from the Olympic Games in Atlanta
after midnight local time.

Multimedia via satellite
EchoStar Communications Corporation and Intel Corporation have completed a
successful demonstration of transmitting multimedia applications over
satellites. A 23 megabyte magazine application was delivered via ECHOSTAR 1
(119W) using the world standard MPEG-2/DVB transmission formats. This file
was received by a PC card currently in development by ComStream and
installed in a multimedia PC. According to EchoStar, this end-to-end system
represented a simple but effective illustration of the benefits of
broadcasting multi-use files over the high bandwidth of satellite
The demonstration took place last week at the Intel Internet Media
Symposium at the Hyatt Regency South San Francisco, which showcased Intel's
ideas for efficient bulk delivery of content via CD/DVD, time shifted
delivery via the telecommunications network, broadcast over satellites such
as ECHOSTAR 1 as well as TV networks. 
 "Consumers are familiar with the video broadcast capabilities of satellite
distribution. Now with the DBS application of digital technology, the same
infrastructure can be used to distribute virtually any form of digital
data: Internet sites, software, business information, multi-media
magazines, newspapers, and catalogs," said Rex Povenmire, director, program
management, EchoStar Communications Corporation.

Thanks to:
Igor Uvodic <iuvodic@mds-uni.si>
Norbert Schlammer <100415.3560@CompuServe.COM>

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

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