Sat_ND, 7.9.96

Sat-ND 96-09-07 - Satellite and Media News

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Merger mania swaps over to Europe
After the split-up with its long-time strategic partner Bertelsmann, it was
unclear which way France's pay-TV company Canal+ would finally go. Company
officials hinted several times they might team up with Germany's Leo Kirch.
They may still so, but something more important is going to happen.
"CANAL+, Richemont and MIH have today agreed in principle to merge NetHold
and CANAL+," says a NetHold press release. The move would create one of the
largest television groups in the world and particularly in the field of
pay-TV with over 8.5 million subscribers.
According to NetHold, "the transaction has the full support of the
company's main shareholders: Havas, Compagnie Générale des Eaux, Société
Générale, and Caisse des Dépôts for CANAL+ and Richemont and MIH for
NetHold, and remains subject to regulatory and shareholders' approval."

* Statements
"Over the past four years NetHold expanded rapidly across Europe. Our
initial investment in FilmNet and Telepiù was augmented by significant
organic growth. I welcome this merger as an opportunity to increase our
involvement in the industry. I look forward to participate with my fellow
shareholders in building one of the top media groups in the world."
Johann Rupert, CEO of Richemont and Chairman of NetHold
"The growth potential of our new group is phenomenal. The combination of 
relatively immature pay-TV markets where NetHold is present and the
introduction of digital tv offers superb opportunities both to increase our
subscriber base, and to distribute our programming software across a wider
territory. I cannot think of a better strategic fit for CANAL+ and I look
forward to the challenge of leading our new Group into the era of digital
Pierre Lescure, Chairman and CEO of CANAL+

* Financial details
"Prior to the completion of the merger, NetHold will transfer its
operations in Africa, the Middle East, and the Eastern Mediterranean
(Greece and Cyprus) to MIH, the South African group which currently owns 50
percent of NetHold. MIH is a listed holding company and was one of the
pioneers of pay television services outside the USA. These operations will
continue to cooperate with the new merged entity in the fields of
technology and rights acquisitions. 
"CANAL+ will acquire 100 percent of NetHold's capital from Richemont and
MIH in exchange for 6.1 million new CANAL+ shares and a cash payment of
US$45 million. As a result of the share issue Richemont and MIH will own 15
percent and 5 percent of CANAL+ share capital respectively. 
"Havas, Compagnie Générale des Eaux and Richemont together with MIH will
each have three seats on CANAL+'s Board of Directors."

Just to confuse you
Can we make things a bit more irritating? Certainly. The Wall Street
Journal reported that Spain's public broadcaster TVE and Grupo Televisa de
Mexico are in advanced negotiations over a joint operation of digital
television and other services in Spain and Latin America. 
In the same region, a competing venture is expected to be announced by
Spain's Sogecable, an ally of Canal+. It will, however, probably be a part
of Galaxy Latin America, set up by DirecTV Inc., a subsidiary of Hughes
It is well known that Hughes is looking to take over PanAmSat (Sat-ND,
5.9.96,) where Grupo Televisa de Mexico is a main shareholder. But it is
also in talks with Canal+ to take over some 30 percent of Canal+ shares.
So, what will Spain and Latin America get? A
Sogecable/Canal+/Nethold/Hughes service on PanAmSat's and Hughes'
satellites, and a TVE/Grupo Televisa service -- but where?

Zeroes and ones
(Oh no! It's Grandpa Zheng again!)

You gotta fight for your right to... receive junk mail
A US court has surprisingly declared being objected to a wash of junk mail
a basic human right. District Court Judge Charles Weiner ordered America
Online not to block e-mail from Cyber Promotions Inc, which sends mass
electronic mailings of promotional material, pending the trial on a lawsuit
Cyber Promotions filed against America Online.
The online service had recently announced to block mass mailings from five
Internet hosts following massive complaints by subscribers (Sat-ND,
5.9.96.) Three of the five hosts, which abuse the Internet for sending out
for nearly 2 million unsolicited e-mail messages daily[!], are controlled
by Cyber Promotions.
"We have a number of options. We're weighing them right now,'' America
Online attorney Michael Grow said. Sanford Wallace, president of Cyber
Promotions and definitely out of touch with reality, claimed "America
Online has violated the civil rights of their members" -- to receive
commercial bullshit? -- "and has violated our rights to send e-mail through
the Internet, which AOL does not own." Cyber Promotions' attorney Paul
Kochanski admitted  the judge's ruling just preserved the status quo and
had no relevance to the trial slated for November.

Money from nothing
So far, the World Wide Web has been a pretty self-referencing thing. The
same applies to the so-called Web-vertising. Sure, some companies make
money with it. More that US$70 million were spent on advertising on the WWW
in the first half of 1996, resulting in an 83 percent increase from the
same period last year.
Some research companies already predict the Internet to become a
multi-billion dollar business by 2000, but whether this dream will become
true or not depends on a host of factors. For the average user,
instantaneous access is crucial -- if there's no response after 30 seconds,
nobody will even have a glimpse at your ad. So, anybody who is interested
in making money from the Internet, should consider pumping money into the
The big spenders on the Web so far are Microsoft, Netscape, Sun
Microsystems and AT&T, which should explain my remark on self-reference.
Microsoft spent almost US$3 million for Web advertising, while Netscape
cashed in almost US$10 million (but very likely not a single cent from
So far, search engines seem to be the most popular target for advertisers.
Yahoo! earns US$5.7 million, Lycos US$4.1 million, and Excite US$3.6
Ironically, the best of all search engines does not carry any commercial
spam at all:

Singapore Special -- Update I
The Singapore Criminal Investigation Dept. (CID) has put a list of Most
Wanted Persons on the World Wide Web. On their site you can also get the
latest crime statistics and other nice stuff such as a FAQ on gangs.

Singapore Special -- Update II
I cannot remember if sat-nd mentioned teletext on the net or if it was in
one of the sat news groups. Anyway you might be interested in the following
from singapore.
INtv, Singapore's Teletext System:
leslie Penner <pennerl@hotmail.com>
No, this is one of the few sites from Singapore I haven't mentioned so far.
Does anybody else have some more Singapore links? I think I'll set up a
dedicated Singapore page in my zheng-o-rama™, soon to be launched on the
Web. -- Zheng

Singapore Special -- Update III
Southeast Asian broadcasters and government officials have issued a
statement calling for Internet censorship following a three-day forum in
Singapore. The statement points out the "importance of having safeguards
against easy access to sites which run counter to our cherished values,
traditions and culture." Other nations, "especially the West," were asked
to understand the countries' concerns. 
No problem! Actually, many Western governments think just the same. Just
think of the still state-owned Deutsche Telekom and their service T-Online
that also offers Internet access. Not only have they removed any news group
from their server that may contain adult material. They have also
manipulated their name server in order to keep the Germans from any
politically unwanted material, e.g. American neo-Nazi sites.

China starts Internet censorship
Chinese Internet censors became active recently, blocking access to some
100 Web sites. The censorship is made possible by the users' obligation to
connect to the outside world only via state-controlled proxy servers.
Among the censored sites are such of a political nature, Chinese language
services from Taiwan and Hong Kong, and of course those of Playboy and
Penthouse. A Chinese official was quoted as saying those sites were
"carrying spiritual pollution."

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

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