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Sat-ND, 27.8.96




Sat-ND 96-08-27 - Satellite and Media News

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Russia builds Iranian satellite
Of course, it was nothing but hot air from Tehran that Iran's first ZOREH 
satellite was up and ready to go (Sat-ND, 21.8.96.) With Iran facing the 
threat of losing their registered orbital positions shouldn't they come 
up with a satellite in time, the story took a new turn today. 
Mehdi Safari, Iran's ambassador in Moscow, told an Iranian newspaper that 
''Iran and Russia have signed an agreement, according to which the 
technology to build a satellite will be transferred to Iran in three 
stages." He gave no further details except that the country's "first 
educational[!] satellite" would be launched within three years' time.
Russia has become Iran's main weapons and technology supplier since the 
Islamic revolution took place in 1979.

Chinese airtime sold in Barbados
How do international commercials get on Channel 8 of China's State 
Television CCTV? Through the Asia Media Group Corporation. Unlike the 
name suggests, the group won't be found in Asia (except for sales offices 
in Beijing and Shanghai.) The path of the rights to air commercials on 
CCTV 8 actually more or less winds around the whole globe.
A company called MGS (Media Groupings,) based in Singapore, acquired the 
exclusive right to show commercials on CCTV 8 from 1996 to 2000 more than 
a year ago. Under the agreement, 18 minutes of advertising are shown time 
each day during the prime viewing hours of 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
MGS passed the rights on to Asia Media, a publicly traded Canadian 
company closely interconnected with MGS: Asia Media holds about 22 
percent of its outstanding shares. A certain Mr. Poh Kay Ping of 
Singapore, a director of Asia Media, and his family own approximately 78 
percent of the outstanding shares of MGS and approximately 31 percent of 
the outstanding shares of Asia Media.
But don't let that confuse you as we are moving away from Canada. The 
rights for airing commercials on Chinese TV actually are actually held by 
AMG Limited (AMG), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Asia Media -- in 
Barbados.
A press release stated back in June that "there is no benefit to MGS from 
the transaction with AMG, and all potential profit from re-sale of the 
advertising time accrues to AMG, as do all the liabilities and 
obligations under the CCTV Agreement.
"Asia Media will guarantee the due performance by AMG of its obligations 
under the MGS Agreement and under its terms, AMG will be required to 
commit approximately [Can]$17.8 million over the next four years for 
minimum advertising fees and program investment. Asia Media is currently 
in the process of raising additional capital through an offering proposed 
to be made in the United Kingdom and Europe, in order to satisfy the 
current funding obligations under the MGS Agreement."
What's the news, then? Asia Media today announced it would call a special 
meeting of shareholders to be held on September 20. They will be asked to 
approve the deal between AMG and MGS.

Berlusconi: Saved by the bell?
The Italian government may help Silvio Berlusconi keeping all his three 
TV channels on air terrestrially, at least for the next few months.
As from August 28, the country will be without a valid broadcasting law, 
following a decision by the country's constitutional court three years 
ago (Sat-ND, 25.8.96.) The government, whose new broadcasting bill so far 
hasn't been passed by parliament, seemed reluctant to issue a decree to 
secure the status quo. However, news agencies today quoted an 
undersecretary at the post and telecommunications ministry as saying he 
expects the cabinet to issue a decree on Wednesday. "The government 
considers that it is necessary to grant an extension to the franchises 
for [Berlusconi's] Mediaset and many other private broadcasters in order 
to fill the legal vacuum."
Without such a decree, any Italian magistrate might order the shutdown of 
one of Berlusconis channels. Nonetheless, the Italian media magnate faces 
the threat of having to turn one of his channels into a satellite or 
cable network should the government's proposed bill be passed into law.

Third digital TV license issued in Canada
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) 
has granted a third license for direct-to-home digital TV services to 
Star Choice Television Network Inc. So far, two licenses have been issued 
to ExpressVu and Power DirecTV, both of which so far haven't managed to 
start their services.
Star Choice, a unit of Direct Choice T.V. Inc., said it would launch its 
service by the end of this year, using only Canadian satellites for 
delivering their television and audio programming to Canadian customers. 
This is in accordance with the Canadian government's satellite policy 
requiring Canadian distributors to use Canadian satellites to carry all 
Canadian programming services. Star Choice's preferred interim satellite 
delivery option consists of subleasing satellite capacity on Canada's 
Anik E2 satellite (107.3W.) Services targeted at foreign (i.e.: US) 
audiences would be launched on US satellites, the company said.

Branson goes south
Richard Branson wants to bring his Virgin Radio to South Africa. Local 
community radio Voice of Soweto has teamed up with the British 
multimillionaire to apply for a radio license in Gauteng. The station 
would be called Virgin 96 FM, programming would be targeted mainly at 
younger listeners and consist of music and news bulletins. (European 
listeners know the format from the ASTRA satellite system, where 
Branson's UK AM station Virgin 1215 is also available.)
Branson will be limited to the 20 percent stake South African law allows 
for foreign media ownership. According to London's Virgin Group, 
"principle shareholders" in the Virgin application are  Standard Bank and 
Soweto Megalomedia. The chief executive officer of Voice of Soweto, Mpumi 
Dakile, is the principle shareholder in the consortium. Dakile admitted 
earlier that the licence application was also done in "partnership with 
[other] South African financiers". Although he didn't elaborate, 
observers believe one of the financiers to be the Richemont group, 
50-percent owners of the pay-TV operation NetHold.
However, there are ten more applications for the three new FM and one AM 
licence in Gauteng. According to the IBA, nine applications were received 
for the FM licence, two applications for the AM licence. 


RupertWatch
By Dr Sarmaz <TAbajo@aol.com>

Murdoch quits joint venture with Prevue Networks
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has terminated talks with United Video 
Satellite Group regarding a planned joint venture with Prevue Networks. 
Back in June, both companies signed a letter of intent to combine efforts 
in the electronic programme guide market which now obviously is obsolete. 
In a press release today, United Video said the companies ''were unable 
to have a meeting of the minds on key governance provisions of the 
proposed venture.'' Did you get that? I guess it means they just couldn't 
agree on who had the say.
United Video currently operates in 20 countries and intends to continue 
its international expansion. All Prevue services combined reach over 55 
million homes in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and Europe.


Zeroes and ones
By Grandpa Zheng

Re: Sat-ND, 26.8.96
First of all: I wasn't quite right when I wrote yesterday that AOL 
Germany had 200,000 subscribers. In fact, the number applies to all AOL 
subscribers in Europe of which there are 130,000 in Germany.
Speaking at the CeBIT Home technology exhibition today, AOL officials 
announced new access software to be introduced next autumn. It is 
supposed to speed up Internet connections rates by up to 35 percent. In 
addition, all of its 60 access nodes in Germany will by then offer ISDN 
lines. Hopefully real ISDN and not the 38,400 bps joke that arch rival 
CompuServe has set up on some of its few German access nodes. (They are 
said to cope with 56,800 bps but the ISDN driver software provided by 
CompuServe to its German customers just won't work with that transmission 
rate.)


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

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