SatND, 9.9.96

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

This service is provided free of charge for personal use. It may be
reproduced for non-commercial reasons only, provided the following notice
is included:
"(c) Copyright 1996 by Sat-ND, http://www.sat-net.com/pck/"
Please send money, news releases, contributions and comments regarding
Sat-ND to
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/ <<


GE-1 launched
A Lockheed Martin Astronautics Atlas IIA rocket successfully launched the
GE-1 communications satellite into transfer orbit this morning. It was the
fifth successful Atlas launch of 1996 from Cape Canaveral Air Station and
the 25th consecutive successful flight for Atlas. GE-1, built by Lockheed
Martin Astro Space Commercial, is the first commercial communications
satellite to use the advanced A2100 bus design. Once in final orbit at 103
degrees west, GE-1 will join the rest of GE's commercial domestic satellite
fleet in providing cable television, the 6,094 lb (2,764 kg) satellite will
transmit television across the U.S. and the Caribbean, including NBC TV
network programming. The spacecraft will also carry communications traffic
for the U.S. government.
Lockheed Martin has commitments for 27 Atlas launches through the 1990s,
including 23 commercial and 4 Air Force missions. Two more missions remain
in the 1996 manifest, and eight missions are forecast for next year.
The Atlas IIA used today is one of four variants in the Atlas family. It is
capable of placing satellites of the 2,800 to 3,000-kg (6,200 to 6,500-lb.)
weight class into geosynchronous transfer orbit. The Atlas II series,
including the II, IIA and IIAS, has had 100 percent operational success
since the introduction of each launch vehicle.

Ariane to launch ECHOSTAR 2
The European Ariane carrier rocket is expected to lift ECHOSTAR 2 into
orbit on its 91st flight next Tuesday. The two-hour launch window will open
at 2347 GMT. The satellite, owned by Echostar Communciations Corp., was
originally to be launched aboard a Long March rocket. Following several
failures of the Chinese launcher, Echostar switched to Europe's Ariane.

BBC denies agreement with Flextech
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has confirmed talks with the
cable and satellite programming company Flextech, a subsidiary of the USA's
cable giant TCI. "But, we have, emphatically, not signed heads of
agreement, as reported in The Sunday Times," a BBC spokesman added.
Not really news, as Flextech had confirmed talks "concerning a possible
joint venture" much earlier (Sat-ND, 17.8.96.) According to the Sunday
Times, the joint venture would exploit the BBC's vast library of past
programmes to create up to six niche channels, each one dedicated to a
specific topic such as drama, documentaries, the arts, sport and --
Weather? Regarding the huge BBC library, it should really be interesting to
watch the weather report from June 19, 1962.

Confusing alliances
Observers today said the merger of the European pay-TV companies NetHold
and Canal+ dealt US company Hughes Electronics a heavy blow. Hughes had
tried to acquire up to 30 percent in NetHold, obviously unaware of the fact
that NetHold talks with Canal+ had already reached their final phase. "We
had very good talks with the Hughes DirecTV people," said Johann Rupert,
chairman of Nethold. "But in the end we had to take a European partner
because of the value added in building a European franchise." 
It is yet unclear whether Hughes will pursue its plans to team up with
Nethold but analysts said they would now have to pay a higher price than
the proposed US$1 billion. And besides, they would have to talk to Canal+.
While NetHold owners Richemont and MHI will turn over 100 percent of their
shares to Canal+, they will gain just marginal influence on the French
pay-TV company. Richemont's share will be about 15 percent, that of MHI 5
percent. Before that, MHI will take over the NetHold operations in the
Middle East, Greece, and Cyprus (Sat-ND, 7.9.9.)
Canal+ has some 7 million subscribers in Europe but gets most of its
revenue from 4.3 million subscribers to its analogue service in France,
which is also distributed terrestrially. Its new French digital service on
satellite, consisting of a dozen channels, so far has attracted only about
80,000 subscribers since its launch in April.
Despite the fact that there will be one company less, the European digital
TV market will become even more complicated. The situation can best be
described as "everybody with everyone" -- and I mean those famous strategic
alliances. The Italian pay-TV Telepiù, for example, is less critical. It
comprises NetHold, Leo Kirch and Silvio Berlusconi, and it utilizes the
d-box developed by Kirch and NetHold. It's more difficult with the German
pay-TV premiere, set up by Kirch, Bertelsmann and Canal+. While their
analogue service seems to perform quite well, recording the highest number
of new subscribers in any summer this year, it is yet unknown how the
service can be used to introduce additional digital services.
The situation is more than just confusing, however, if you look at
multiThématiques (mTh,) a pretty small digital package (six channels) set
up by Canal+ and US partners for the German market. In an interview,
programme director Alain Fux admitted he was still searching for a platform
on which to distribute his package. He confirmed that Canal+ was still a
part of the MMBG alliance, which includes Deutsche Telekom, Bertelsmann
(and its digital package "Club RTL) as well as public broadcasters.
Does that mean that mTh will use the MMBG decoder, developed by Canal+ and
Bertelsmann? Not at all. "Even if we went on DF1 [the rivalling platform
supported by Leo Kirch -- Ed.] the financial involvement of Canal+ with
MMBG would be untouched. People mostly tend to confuse this." Currently,
mTh talks to Club RTL, premiere and DF1.

"International community" launches Bosnian TV network
Whenever the so-called "international community," or should I say: the US
president and her husband, decide to get involved in a national conflict,
things tend to get weird. The latest example may be a strange TV station
that hit Bosnia's airwaves last Saturday. Called Open Broadcast Network
(OBN,) it was invented by the "international community." In the end, it is
probably funded by my and your tax payments. At least, the office of
international peace co-ordinator in Bosnia, Carl Bildt, committed some $10
million for the network.
It was intended to influence the upcoming elections, but as there are only
five days left, the five local stations carrying OBN in Bosnia won't make
too much impact. The technical reach is estimated at 50 percent of the
Bosnian population, not including satellite viewers. (So this is on
satellite somewhere.)
According to press reports, programming has been unprofessional and chaotic
so far, and there even was (how disgusting) the transmission of a Tina
Turner concert. This is how the West spreads democracy and free flow of
information, isn't it? The most weird thing, however, is that the network
is to carry commercials. Tax payers in Western countries will love to hear
that, but on the other hand, is that going to help democracy in Bosnia or
just *somebody's* commercial interests?

Cable goes Internet
It will cost twice as much as the average Internet account in the USA, but
it will offer transmission speeds more than 100 times faster than the
current standard -- in theory. The secret behind Time-Warner's Road Runner
service is simple: It uses fibre-optic cable instead of telephone lines.
It will be launched tomorrow in the Akron-Canton area tomorrow -- if you
happen to live there, send me a postcard, please. The company expects to
expand the service into Portland, Maine, this year, and then in San Diego
in early 1997. Road Runner will provide access to the Internet, storage
space for a personal World Wide Web page, and a mixture of Time Warner
products and local information.
The good news: It costs less that US$40 per month. (To tell you a secret: I
pay twice as much for a part-time ISDN account that normally isn't much
faster that a 14.4 modem expect for Saturday mornings.) The bad news: Road
Runner users won't be better off once they leave the company's home page.
In the Internet, they have to cope with time-outs and 10-bps connections
just like any other user. Call it justice.

Zeroes and ones
(Eek! It's this Zheng guy again!)

Chinese censorship
China has done a thorough job on censoring the World Wide Web. According to
reports coming in, the government has not only cut off access to
dissidents' sites, Amnesty International, or softporn services such as
Playboy and Penthouse. Astoundingly, even the Los Angeles Times, the Wall
Street Journal, the Washington Post, Voice of America, and Cable News
Network are not accessible anymore by Chinese users who are obliged to
connect to the World Wide Web via so-called proxy servers. Americans using
local Chinese Internet services have called the US embassy after finding
out that they could no longer read U.S. newspapers online. 
Originally intended to cache Web pages for fast access, the Chinese
government uses computers set up as proxy servers to keep unwanted news
from their people.

Make money fast (Spam, spam, spam?)
"It's a simple concept: people who create should be able to publish. People
who publish should get paid." You like it? In that case, "Welcome to the
Wave Interactive Network, where creative people get paid." Yes, do whatever
you want on the World Wide Web and cash in money. Finally, the
commercialisation of the Internet reaches the end user who, just for once,
doesn't have to pay but may be sacking in some revenue for his or her
efforts. If others are crazy enough to pay for their products, that is.
Wave Systems Corp. today announced the introduction of WINPublish(TM), the
first commercial component of Wave Interactive Network's (WIN) Internet
strategy. WINPublish(TM) is a unique Internet commerce and publishing
environment through which Internet users world-wide will be able to publish
and sell "anything at any price" on their web page. Wave's goal is to
provide a publishing solution that enables everyone with a "cool" idea, or
who controls copyrights to intellectual property, to publish their content
on the World Wide Web and get paid when that content is accessed. 
Catch 22: You have to pay WIN first, the annual registration fee is US$25.
In return, the company makes "Internet-based commerce accessible to
everyone who has ever dreamed of selling their creative work," said Wave
Systems Corp. president, Steven Sprague. Well, just guess where you will
find Sat-ND next week...
(Non-US users should add some US name servers to their DNS set-up. European
name servers don't seem to know this domain at the moment. Wave's home page
is at http://www.wavesys.com/)

Re: Sat-ND, 7.9.96
Grandpa Zheng wrote:
"Ironically, the best of all search engines does not carry any commercial
spam at all:

Such comments simply can't be expressed without getting some reactions.
It may have been true half a year ago, but then AltaVista was full with
about 30 million documents and they removed all documents for some domains
to have space for new ones that all had to be added manually by the users.
And they still have the courage to call it a search engine....
I can just take the domain I come from as an example, AltaVista has
registered just 5 of the URL's here and they have all been added manually
to the database, Infoseek Ultra found found 951 of them and HotBot 3145.
HotBot is with 54 million documents the biggest searchable index today.
AltaVista is "out" and has been so for several months now. 
Robert Lundemo <http://www.unik.no/~robert/>

Grandpa Zheng says:
Still, they don't carry any commercial spam, do they? 

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

For information on how to subscribe or unsubscribe, send email to
Majordomo@tags1.dn.net and include the line
in the body of your message.

[Other mailing lists]