Sat-ND, 1.10.96

Sat-ND 96-10-01 - Satellite and Media News

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Japan goes digital
Japan's first digital TV package started on JCSAT 3 (128E) today,
initially offering a bundle of 60 TV and radio channels. Future plans
call for an increase to 170 channels.
More than 35,000 decoders for the service called PerfecTV have already
been sold,. Perfect TV Corporation said it expects 300,000 subscribers
by the end of the year and over a million within the next three years.
The price for the reception equipment (decoder and satellite dish)
reportedly is about 50,000 (US$450.)
The company recently doubled its capital to 50 billion (US$455 million)
by issuing new shares to a total of 28 companies, 23 of them new
investors such as Toyota Motor, Sony and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone
The next digital venture is already close at hand. Rupert Murdoch will
launch his JSkyB service next June, co-operating with the domestic
software wholesaler Softbank Corp. while at the same time buying 21.4
percent of the Japanese Asahi TV network. Other companies have announced
digital satellite TV services as well.
http://www.perfectv.co.jp/ (all Japanese)
http://www.asahi.co.jp/abcHomeE.html (Asahi's English pages. Nice
cooking recipes and always the "Newest Information from the Himawari V.
[weather] Satellite.")

ARC becomes MTV
No, it's impossible. I just cannot believe it. A whole continent without
MTV, Viacom's global music television? Well, obviously Australia seems
to have missed it for the past four years. (Some MTV programming blocks
aired from 1987 through 1993 on Australia's terrestrial Channel 9
network.) But today, MTV Networks, ARC Music Television and Optus Vision
announced they have finalised an agreement to launch a 24-hour music
channel on Optus Vision's pay television service. The music video
channel currently seen there, ARC MUSIC TV, will be relaunched as MTV:
"Our number one priority is to create a truly Australian MTV, especially
given the exciting music scene and vibrant youth culture that exists
there," said Bill Roedy, president of MTV Networks International and not
exactly a youth anymore.
Broadcasting a mixture of local and international music-based
programming, MTV Australia will try to reach the 12-34 year olds
throughout the country. All music playlists will be determined locally,
and the programming featured on the channel will be specifically catered
to an Australian audience. At launch, MTV: MUSIC TELEVISION will provide
viewers with a mix of locally-produced music programming along with
global MTV programming, including "MTV Unplugged," "Beavis and
Butt-head," etc. Hosted by Australian VJs (Video Jockeys), more than 30
hours of original weekly programming will be produced locally at Optus
Vision's Sydney-based studio.
MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom Inc., owns and operates television
programming services world-wide including VH1, M2: Music Television,
MTV: Music Television, MTV Latino, MTV Europe, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite,
and Nick at Nite's TV Land.

Sprint may invest in Echostar
EchoStar is in talks with the U.S. phone giant Sprint Corp. to set up
just another of all those strategic alliances, the Wall Street Journal
reported. A deal isn't immanent, people close to the talks said, and
besides it's pretty unclear what's going on really. Of course, EchoStar
would gain access to Sprint's customer base, and Sprint might gain new
customers for bundled services. Everything else is just confusing, and
there seem to be some stumbling blocks before a deal can be finalised
anyway. Recently another phone company, AT&T, taking over just 2.5
percent of the USA's leading digital TV provider, DirecTV.
(Yes, it's really easy with all those U.S. company URLs.)

Satellites to guide Australian taxis
Driving a taxi in Sydney, Australia, isn't exactly a fun job. 2,200
assaults, 1,600 robberies and 3,200 threats are reported by Sydney's
11,00 regular taxi drivers each year. Taxis Combined Services, a company
that provides booking services most of Sydney's 4,300 cabs, today said
it will install an A$10 million satellite tracking system to help locate
taxi drivers quickly in case of an emergency. The system will enable
drivers to raise an alarm and provide their exact location to the
network operator and to nearby taxis.
The system can also show the last 60 positions of a vehicle in 50-metre
intervals, enabling a taxi's location to be estimated should it be
unable to give a position. Developed by Australian company SIGTEC, the
system would be fully operational by mid-1997 and be offered to seven
other taxi companies in Sydney, said Taxis Combined Services' managing
director Reg Kermode.

Golden Words
In a letter to the Financial Times concerning British cable television,
Kelvin MacKenzie, managing director of MirrorTV writes: "In your
otherwise accurate article about talks between L!ve TV and Channel One,
you stated that the weather forecasting Norwegian had been dropped in
favor of a dwarf reading the weather while bouncing on a
trampoline...This is not the case.  They are both working for L!ve TV
but at different times."
(Shoptalk via Martyn Williams)

Zeroes and ones
By Grandpa Zheng <http://www.sat-net.com/pck/zheng/>

AOL faces tough competition
A few weeks ago, CompuServe for the first time admitted is was losing
subscribers. Today, it was AOL's turn. Not only are they having trouble
with keeping members. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange
Commission, AOL even said it may face financial trouble due to growing
competition, mainly from Internet access providers that offer flat rates
(i.e., unlimited use of the Internet for a fixed monthly fee.) Following
the news, AOL's stocks which were just recently introduced to the New
York stock exchange dropped by ten percent.
A new advertising campaign, costing no less than US$300 million, was
designed to help the online service get back on track. AOL also believes
a new pricing plan introduced recently will help retain customers. The
plan charges $19.95 per month with 20 free hours instead of the cheaper
base rate that offers just five free hours per month. It's unclear
whether this also applies to non-U.S. members of the service. At least,
they haven't been informed of a new price plan.
It is, of course, just a coincidence that a 12-year old boy in a town
near Kansas may have killed his mother and himself following a dispute
over an AOL bill. Ann Hoffman was found today with six gunshots in her
head, her Brad son lying nearby with a single gunshot in his. Hoffman's
ex-husband said Brad's mother "was upset over the bills, because of
America Online" when he recently visited both to discuss the boy's
extensive on-line usage.

Clinton wants to know your secrets
So far, US companies are not allowed to sell so-called "strong",
powerful versions of their encryption software abroad. Non-U.S. Internet
users are probably aware of this fact as they get only special versions
of Web browsers such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft IE. Both use a
128-bit key for encrypting secure documents in their U.S. versions, but
the rest of the world has to be content with 40-bit keys (which are
relatively easy to crack.) 
Phil Zimmerman, the creator of the encryption software Pretty Good
Privacy (PGP) had faced the same problem . He temporarily became the
subject of a criminal investigation for allegedly exporting the almost
invulnerable software. 
Recently, the U.S. administration relaxed the restrictions just a bit:
The U.S. software may now be offered for download over the Internet,
although just for U.S. citizens. This nevertheless made the secure
software available to foreign users as well. If they use an online
service such as CompuServe of AOL for downloading, they appear to access
to the software from inside the USA. There are more "security" measures
to prevent the rest of the world from getting the secure software, but
according to German computer magazines, those can easily be circumvented
as well.
Today, the Clinton administration announced a new plan that would make
it legal for software companies to export stronger encryption software.
But it's still not the U.S. software, instead the White House just wants
to allow 56-bit instead of 40-bit codes. In return, they call for U.S.
law enforcement agencies to be able to break the codes under a court
This means that wherever you live in the world, U.S. authorities will in
principle be able to monitor your encrypted messages. In that case, I
would suggest using the "weak" software instead. It may be easy to
crack, but it definitely takes some more effort than just a court order.

Something for URL collectors
German women's channel tm3 is testing its web site right now, claiming
it would go on-line on November 1.

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

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