Sat-ND, 24.9.96

Sat-ND 96-09-24 - Satellite and Media News

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Russia to launch another EKSPRESS
The second Russian EKSPRESS communications satellite is due to be launched
tomorrow evening, local time, from the cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
According to news agency Itar-Tass, a booster rocket of the Proton class
will be used to lift the satellite into orbit. 
The deputy head of Russia's Space Agency, Yrui Milov, told a press
conference today the EKSPRESS will replace a defunct GORIZONT satellite.
The EKSPRESS can be used to "receive and transmit national television
channels and newspapers." It would also "expand the opportunities of the
International satellite communication system 'Intersputnik' by adding more
serviceable areas and increasing the transmission capacity." Finally,
EKSPRESS satellites are designed to stay in operation seven years and thus
have a significantly longer life span than GORIZONTs.
The first EKSPRESS satellite was launched almost two years ago and is
located at 14.1W.

Boeing launches DigitalXpress
There's a new satellite communications company, by the way. Co-founded by
Boeing Commercial Space Co., it is called DigitalXpress (not QuarkXpress --
my apologies for this insider joke which isn't funny anyway.) Today, their
first customer was announced. The accounting and management consulting firm
Arthur Anderson has contracted DigitalXpress to expand its training and
corporate communication capabilities in the U.S. and Canada. The company
will use DigitalXpress' XpressVideo satellite communications service to
transmit video materials, provide digital broadcasts for employee training
and to upgrade its communications capabilities both internally and with
XpressVideo allows a company to establish its own private satellite
television network for transmitting high-quality, full-motion video to any
number of locations. Similar services are offered for the transmission of
data and multimedia contents. They can be received at customer sites using
small satellite dishes and low-cost, digital compression technology.
DigitalXpress says it is is the first company to offer a wide range of
satellite-to-desktop digital distribution systems and multimedia
information services, tailored to business and industrial use. The company
was formed in 1995 by  Boeing Commercial Space Co., Conus Communications
and Computing Devices International. http://www.boeing.com/

Mediaset reports increased revenues
Silvio Berlusconi's TV holding Mediaset today reported revenues of 497.4
billion lira for the first half of 1996, up 53.4 percent from the same
period last year. In fact, within the first six months of this year, 90
percent of last year's revenues were gained. 
Financial debts of the group have significantly been decreased to 285
billion, while they amounted to 2,185 billion lira in the first half of
1995. The decrease is mainly due to the cash injection following the entry
of new Italian and foreign investors. Berlusconi's general holding
Fininvest still holds 50.7 percent of Mediaset, 10 percent of the shares
are publicly traded. Other shareholders include NetHold (6.45), KirchGruppe
(5.43), Chase Nominees (2.94), Kingdom investments (2.28), Albacom (2.1),
Abu Dhabi investment (1.53), Imi (1.23), Abn Amro (.86), and S. Paolo
Torino (.86 percent.)
The administrative council has authorized Imi, Morgan Stanley and Lehman
Brothers to proceed with the evaluation of Spanish investments in the
television and advertising area as well as investments in pay-TV Telepiù in
which Mediaset has a 10 percent stake. These include Gestevision Telecinco,
Publiespana, Studios Telecinco in which Silvio Berlusoni has a 25 percent
Another positive element is that all three TV networks - Canale 5, Italia 1
and Rete 4 have succeeded in getting a total 42,7 percent ratings share,
which equals last year performance. Advertising revenues have also been up
6,2 percent from last year's results. 
(Branislav Pekic)

Cecchi Gori announces autumn schedule
At a press conference held in Milan, Italian media magnate's Vittorio
Cecchi Gori television stations TMC, TMC2 and Videomusic presented their
autumn schedules. An important fact revealed there was that Gori's
MTV-clone, Videomusic, will soon become a satellite-only service, which
would enable TMC2 to expand its programming to 24 hours a day.
As to TV shows, the only real novelty is the arrival of Hanna-Barbera
cartoons which will be broadcast under the brand name "Cartoon Network"
daily on TMC2 and Sundays on TMC. TMC has also announced many attractive
movie titles for the prime time slot, including "Tombstone" and "Getaway".
Mornings on TMC will be filled with telenovelas and romance movies.
Cecchi Gori has ambitious plans to become the third serious contender on
the Italian TV market, earmarking a budget of 70 billion lira and hoping to
gain 5 percent of the market share. In comparison, RAI and Mediaset reach
around 86 percent of the audience share. 
TMC, TMC2 and Videomusic have started (unscrambled) satellite broadcasts
this month as part of Telepiù's DSTV digital package transmitted via the
EUTELSAT satellites at 13 degrees East.
(Branislav Pekic)

EU parliament supports public broadcasters
Last week, the European Parliament in Strasbourg passed a resolution
supporting the European Union's public radio and TV services. Essentially,
the resolution calls for the exemption of public TV stations from
anti-trust measures that limit ownership of media resources. Public TV
stations should also be given free access to new technologies, and be
privileged when trying to acquire broadcast rights for major sports. 
The resolution also asks the European Commission to provide incentives for
public TV stations to become more independent from governments, invest in
European co-productions, and exchange programming with other public
The European Parliament hopes its resolution will be taken into account
when the European Commission will discuss the modification of the EU Treaty
articles 89 and 90 concerning anti-trust laws at the end of October.
(Branislav Pekic)

Warning: MPEG mix-up
If any of your readers are considering buying an MPEG receiver, be careful.
I bought a pace dvr500 from Holland, it works with the Dutch channels fine
but locks out all other MPEG transmissions, even clear MPEG2.
(Frank Kearney)
Thank you for this observation. This is likely going to happen with _all_
foreign receivers in any European country. There's no real standard, and
there'll probably never be one for the same reason that you can't
officially subscribe to BSkyB on the Continent. All the digital receivers
available today are more or less hastily tailored, disorderly assembled,
shamelessly subsidised, and immorally marketed to suit just one national
package. And of course, they won't reproduce digital newsfeeds, either.
Anybody interested in the subject should subscribe to Dr Dish's mailing
list ("subscribe sat-drdish" to Majordomo@tags1.dn.net.) He'll also be
happy to answer any questions on digital receivers as soon as he is
relieved from some editorial work.

Zeroes and ones
By Grandpa "strictly technical" Zheng

PSINet coming to Europe
A US Internet provider wants to set up a US$100 million Internet network in
Europe, starting to offer services in mid-1997. PSINet already is present
on some European markets, e.g. as PSINet UK Ltd. Those services will be
integrated into the planned all-European network which will become fully
operational in four years' time.
PSINet said it would offer an integrated Internet product line across
Europe in addition to its efforts in the United States, Canada, Japan and

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

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