Sat-ND, 22.8.96

Sat-ND 96-08-22 - Satellite and Media News

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This issue is sponsored by TELE-satellite, Europe's Satellite Magazine 
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No chance for educational DBS services?
It was a big story back in January 1996. The US Federal Communications
Commission for the first time auctioned a national license to provide a
nation-wide direct-broadcast satellite, or DBS, service. With a bid of
US$682.5 million, MCI came away the winner. It also was the last auction of
its kind as there are no more licenses left.
There's also a story before the big story, and it is less widely known. The
license had already been issued to Advanced Communications Corp. (ACC), a
broadcast satellite service founded in 1982 for the sole purpose of
constructing and operating a DBS system. As a matter of fact, the company
never did so but now claims it was nearly finished with preparations when a
license extension request was denied last year by the FCC. 
"It happened when ACC was within six months of launching the first
competitive alternative to the initial operating DBS system," says Daniel
H. Garner, President of ACC.
"We were ready to go  antennas by August, software, etc. by September 
when the FCC denied the license extension," adds Joseph F. Glass Jr,
Executive Director of the non-profit organisation FEAT (Foundation for
Educational Advancement Today.) FEAT was founded by ACC president Garner
and the late Hon. Wilbur D. Mills, longest-serving Chairman of the House
Ways and Means Committee. 
The commitment from ACC and FEAT was to provide educational programming
through this medium, making it universally accessible to schools, homes,
businesses and anyone with appropriate receiving equipment. To make this
possible, ACC donated four high-powered transponders, capable of delivering
up to 100 channels each to classrooms.
Although an appeal was rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals, ACC will
present its case to the US Supreme Court in September, citing that no other
DBS licensee has ever had extension requests denied before or since. Says
Garner, "We feel that the FCC's decision was arbitrary, capricious,
discriminatory, not founded in fact, and amounts to a seizure of property
without appropriate due process of law guaranteed by the U.S.

RTL bleeds
Germany's most successful commercial channel, RTL Television, today was
fined DM20 million by a district court in Hanover. The channel was found
guilty of inserting too many commercial breaks in a total of 34 movies.
German media law allows two breaks in a movie, while serials may be
interrupted four times. RTL had shown the movies under the common subject
"Der große TV-Roman" ("The big TV novel",) claiming they would constitute a
The court said RTL deliberately violated the law, cashing in DM20 million
of additional revenues. They have to be paid back to the treasury of Lower
Saxony where the RTL broadcast license was granted more than ten years ago.
RTL has already announced it will appeal. The station claims it had no
extra revenue because the maximum time for commercials allowed by law, 12
minutes per hour, was at no time exceeded. RTL manager Helmut Thoma said
that the station just had aired four short breaks instead of two long ones.

Kirch expands
Leo Kirch does not only run digital TV packages in Germany and Italy  he
is also negotiating a deal in Spain. A few years ago, Kirch took over a 25
percent stake in the Spanish commercial channel Tele 5. Now, Kirch has
approached Spain's partly state-owned telecommunications company Telefonica
in order to set up a joint digital television venture. The venture will be
open to other investors, a spokesman for Telefonica said today in Madrid.
Kirch will supply the decoder technology, read: there will be a Spanish
d-box in addition to the German and Italian ones.
However, the Telefonica spokesman also said that a "neutral" decoder was a
condition for the venture. He was probably unaware of the fact that
"neutral" decoders so far simply do not exist: Each of the set-top boxes
available in Europe so far has hastily been tailored to suit a national
package, and it won't be different in Spain.
It is yet unclear when the Kirch-Telefonica package will start, the deal
hasn't been finalised after all. Initial investments are estimated at
Ptas150 billion (US$1.2 billion.)

By Dr Sarmaz <TAbajo@aol.com>

Down, down, down
Rupert Murdochs News Corp Ltd failed to produce the profits expected for
1995/96, according to a company statement. Profit after tax and before
abnormals has dropped by six percent to A$1.26 billion (US$995 million.)
So-called analysts reportedly expected A$1.34 billion.
One year ago, they expected profits to rise by 15 percent in 1995/96, by
the way. Nonetheless, analysts one year ago were pretty disappointed with
News Corp's results, and they will be this year. Just to cheer 'em up, News
Corp today said it expected a 20 percent jump in profit in 1996/97.

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

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