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Sat-ND, 25.9.96




Sat-ND 96-09-25 - Satellite and Media News

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EXPRESS launch on halt
Russia has postponed the launch of its new EKSPRESS satellite (Sat-ND,
24.9.96) after detecting a "technical fault" during comprehensive testing
of the satellite launching vehicle, a Proton-K rocket. According to
Itar-Tass, the fault is being corrected at the moment. The launch is now
slated for tomorrow, 17:46 GMT (21:46 local Moscow time.)

GARUDA? Never heard of it
The Russian-American consortium Lockheed-Khrunichev-Energiya will launch
the Indonesian satellite GARUDA 1, built by US company Lockheed. The
spacecraft will be operated by a regional consortium set up by three
companies from Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines respectively.
According to Itar-Tass, the launch will take place in the second half of
1998 and cost US$100 million. 
GARUDA 1 may just be the first of a huge satellite fleet: There are plans
to launch at least six more GARUDA satellites. Russian officials stated
they were hoping for follow-up contracts, pointing out they had good
prospects as it was the first time that Russia had entered the fast
developing market of South-East Asia.

SKYNET stays with Arianespace
Arianespace will launch the military SKYNET 4F for the British Ministry of
Defence. A contract signed today by Arianespace and the satellite's
constructor, Matra Marconi Space, calls for a lift in the second half of
1999. 
Skynet 4F is the last in a series of six British military communications
satellites. Built by Matra Marconi Space in the United Kingdom, it will
weigh approximately 1,500 kg (3,300 lb.) at launch and will offer 1.5 kW of
power. Design life is seven years. SKYNET 4F will provide government
communications links for various land, sea and airborne terminals.
Following the launch of SKYNET 4B (53E) in December 1988 and SKYNET 4C
(1W) in August 1990, Arianespace plans to launch Skynet 4E and 4F in 1998
and 1999, respectively.
It is the third launch booked by Matra Marconi this year following similar
turnkey contracts with Singapore Telecom/Chunghwa Telecom (Taiwan) and the
Egyptian Radio and Television (ERTU.)
With this launch contract, the 17th of the Year, Arianespace now has 42
satellites on order to be launched.
Arianespace is the world leader in the provision of commercial space
transportation services. Matra Marconi Space is a joint venture between
Lagardere Groupe SA of France and General Electric PLC of the UK.

Loral pays cash for SKYNET
It's not quite as big as the Hughes-PanAmSat merger, but it's not too bad,
anyway. Loral Space and Communications today announced it has entered into
a "definitive agreement" to buy AT&T's SKYNET satellite services for just
US$712.5 -- in cold, hard cash. The transaction, which is subject to
Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission/Department
of Justice approvals, is expected to close in about six months. This will,
what else, once again create one of those " World's largest satellite-based
businesses." 
SKYNET? No, those are British military satellites, as we've just learned.
The company SKYNET operates the well-known TELSTAR satellites, the first of
which was launched on July 10, 1962. (It's still up there somewhere.)
SKYNET is the third-largest U.S. provider of satellite distribution for
news, entertainment and educational programming through their TELSTAR
satellites which operate in the C- and Ku-band and. 
However, there are just four of them in space right new: Two newer birds
(TELSTAR 401, launched 1993, 93W; and TELSTAR 402R, launched 1995, 89W)
as well as two somewhat aged spacecraft with a not too exorbitant lifetime
expectancy (TELSTAR 302, launched 1984, 85W; and TELSTAR 303, launched
1985, 120W.) An even older TELSTAR, launched 16 years ago, was sold to
Arabia and now serves as ARABSAT 1DR at 20E. 
Space Systems/Loral is building two new replacement satellites to be
launched during 1997, but reportedly they will have to cover the cost of
completing and deploying those satellites, which may be as high as US$400
million.
"SKYNET will serve as a critical building block for our world-wide
satellite network service strategy," stated Loral chairman and chief
executive officer, Bernard L. Schwartz. "SKYNET [...] was our premier
opportunity for value to advance this strategy. Historically a domestic
[US] provider, SKYNET not only jump starts our U.S. capabilities, but
provides us with a world-class platform for expansion into the
international arena."
Loral owns Space Systems/Loral, one of the world's largest manufacturers of
satellites. It also plans launching the Globalstar communications network,
comprising 48 Low Earth Orbit satellites, and CyberStar, a bi-directional
digital communications system for the low-cost transmission of broadband
data using geostationary satellites. Both services are slated to be rolled
out in late 1997 although neither of them will be fully available before
the end of the century.

Hollywood to cash in again on French pay-TV
Germany's media magnate Leo Kirch has paid up to US$7 billion -- or at
least, promised to do so over the next ten years -- in order to secure his
almost perfect monopoly on broadcasting rights from the Hollywood majors.
(This of course does not include the cost of setting up a bogus digital
pay-TV service almost nobody in Germany will subscribe to.)
Now, there's even more money lurking for US studios as two French digital
TV services have set out on a shopping spree. Canal+ as well as TPS are
near to signing "major deals" with Hollywood studios for rights to movies
and TV programs, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Canal+, if may I say so, recently bought the Dutch company NetHold, a
European pay-TV service initiated by South Africa's Richemont group. So
far, Canal+'s stronghold has been France where most of its US$2 billion
annual revenues come from, certainly owing to the fact that their main
service is also distributed terrestrially.
TPS includes the commercial French network TV1 and German media
conglomerate Bertelsmann AG, until recently an ally of Canal+.
The French TV market is the second largest in Europe with annual revenues
of US$7 billion, surpassed only by Germany.

MEASAT comes alive
Malaysia's MEASAT 1 (91.5E,) launched last January, will offer a digital
radio and TV service as from next month, officials said during a somewhat
premature launch ceremony today. 22 digitally compressed TV channels will
be offered alongside eight radio channels, all of them receivable with a 60
cm (24") dish. "It will be the most advanced television system in Asia,"
promised MEASAT's chief operating officer Paul Edwards.
Speaking at the launch, Information Minister Mohamad Rahmat said the
government will introduce amendments to the Broadcast Act in parliament
next month to legalise the use of parabolic dishes and decoders for ASTRO,
as the service will be known. "Inevitably, we will open our sky, but just a
little, with the use of a specific satellite dish approved by the
ministry," Mohamed added. Malaysia earlier banned the use of satellite
dishes to keep its airwaves clear of sex, violence and -- above all? --
unwanted news.
Subscribers will have to pay 80 ringgit (US$32) per month in addition to
estimated installations costs of 1,500 ringgit (US$600.) They will receive
Malay, Chinese and Tamil language channels. Hong Kong's TVB will supply
programmes for the Chinese channel, and India's state-run Doordarshan will
provide Indian-language programming. MEASAT will produce own programming at
its "All-Asia Broadcast Centre" near Kuala Lumpur which the company
describes as "the world's largest all-digital broadcast and production
centre."
There's also going to be a lot of foreign programming, including news and
business channels such as CNN International, NBC, CNBC, and Asia Business
News. Star Sports, Star Movies, Star Plus, ESPN, HBO, MGM Gold, Disney
Channel, Cartoon Network, and the Discovery Channel will provide sports and
entertainment programming.
By 1997, MEASAT hopes launch MEASAT 2 while extending its subscriber base
to other countries in its footprint, i.e. India, Indonesia, Taiwan, the
Philippines and eastern Australia. In 1998, MEASAT 3 will be launched --
according to Paul Edwards, a satellite much larger than its predecessors
with the capacity "to deliver hundreds of channels to niche markets around
the world."
Well, even those techies screw up sometimes! No single satellite is capable
of providing a coverage for the whole world; the maximum for a single
satellite is significantly below 50 percent of the Earth's surface.
In case you're interested in the financial details: Telecommunications
company Binariang Sdn Bhd holds 85 percent of MEASAT, 15 percent are held
by the Malaysian Ministry of Finance.

Newsbytes still wonders whether Hughes will buy PanAmSat
US company Hughes' DirecTV aims to launch an Indian service by joining
forces with the K.K. Modi Group in order to launch a direct-to-home
television network, targeting rural India where cable and satellite
penetration is still low compared with the urban areas. 
Okay. I found this piece of news brought to the public via various outlets
by Newsbytes yesterday quite interesting as it also had this to tell: "The
move gains significance as international reports suggest that DirecTV
parent, Hughes Electronics, is one of the four companies which is in  the
running to buy out into the US-based Pan Am Sat Corp."
Well, just read Sat-ND, and you'd know that this is deal is done, done,
done. 


RupertWatch
By Dr Sarmaz <DrSarmaz@aol.com>

Mr Murdoch's Springboard
Mr Murdoch's News International is reported to have joined forces with
British Telecom (BT) to provide a mass market Internet service. Dubbed
"Springboard" (what the hell does that mean?), it will be available on home
computers world-wide and, no doubt, appeal to all members of the family
including my three-week old niece. What family now? Ah, never mind. 
"We will be able to offer teenagers help with their homework as well as
news on their favourite football [soccer -- or what?] team, while providing
parents with the latest in holidays, banking and local events," said BT's
Rupert Gavin.
Of course, this Jumptable -- ha, ha, sorry, Hopchart *oops* wrong again!
Er, this Springboard venture will also provide fast and easy access to
content drawn from News International titles, such as The Times, The Sunday
Times, The Stun... no, The Scum... no, The Sun (that's it) and News of the
World. Well, we just can't wait for that, can we?
"In addition, Springboard subscribers will benefit from BT's world class
communications infrastructure to gain fast and reliable local access to the
Internet." Of course, no doubt about that! Whoever wants to subscribe to Mr
Murdoch's British Internet venture, has the opportunity to do so as from
January, 1997.


Re: Sat-ND, 24.9.96 [Digital receivers]
Frank Kearney yesterday reported about reception problems with a Dutch
dvr500 digital receiver. Jos Nijs told me that "that situation is going to
come to an end. PACE has been working on a software update that they're
going to download onto all (Benelux-) IRD 504/G1's via the ASTRA satellite
(automatically and for free, of course.)"
Referring to my remark that such problems may arise "with _all_ foreign
receivers in any European country", Robin Clark noted that "The Canal Plus
Mpeg receivers in France pick up all digital channels including the Dutch,
German AND Spanish Mpeg channels!!!! It also picks up ART5, Kral TV and
Sci-fi channels in digital. RTL4, RTL5 and SBS6 are occasionally scrambling
their digital signal. Veronica is always in the clear."
Many thanks to both of you! (I wouldn't buy any of those receivers, but
that's just maybe 'cause I quit watching TV a year ago anyway. --Ed.)


Zeroes and ones

Grandpa "Doc HTML" Zheng says:
I declare the bazaar open. It's not much, but contributions of any kind are
most welcome. Use only 3.0 browser versions. Expect changes in the future.
As a special service for the minority of heterosexual males on the
Internet, I have included a link to the most beautiful women available on
the WWW on my home page. 
http://www.sat-net.com/pck/zheng/


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

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