Sat-ND, 10.10.96

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

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British government considers sex harmful
Once again, the British government has effectively banned a hard-core
satellite TV channel. French Rendez-Vous Télévision, broadcasting on
EUTELSAT II-F3 (16E) at 10.987 GHz h, may no longer sell viewing cards in
Speaking at the Tory Party conference in Bournemouth, National Heritage
Secretary Virginia Bottomley today declared she would "not tolerate
gratuitous violence and filth on television." Rendez-Vous is the third
porn-channel banned in the UK, following similar measures against Red Hot
TV in 1993 and TV Erotica in 1995.
The opposition Labour Party obviously does not object to the government's
move. Their shadow national heritage secretary Dr Jack Cunningham pledged a
Labour government would tackle pornography on TV. "A Labour government will
definitely act to prevent it."
Rendez-Vous' Roger Kingsbourg accused the government of treating TV viewers
like children, poiting out that "We do not show unnatural situations and we
have a strict policy of only showing adult sex. And we are not in the
business of broadcasting programmes to minors."
British viewers will be able to use their current smart cards until they
expire. After that, there will certainly be other ways of getting hold of
one - it will probably just cost a bit more. In addition to that, Britain
has no legal means to ban unscrambled trailers broadcast by Rendez-Vous and
other porn channels. Usually, these 15-minute trailers are shown before the
scrambled programmes start.

* The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review the conviction of the host
and the producer of a late-night TV show in Austin, Texas. Their call-in
show called "Infosex" allegedly promoted obscenity by showing a sexually
explicit film portraying gay men in safe-sex acts. Although the show
focused on AIDS prevention and not on sexual arousement, both were given
sentences of one-year probation.

START to be launched from polar site
Russian rockets will soon take off from a Canadian launch site. Akjuit
Aerospace Incorporated today announced it will formally sign an Agreement
with Scientific and Technological Center Complex (STC COMPLEX) of Russia.
This alliance will combine the SpacePort Canada launch facilities of Akjuit
with the START family of launch vehicles of STC in a turn-key launch
services package. 
"The launch of a Russian launch vehicle from Canada will mark the first
time in history that a country has delivered its orbital launch vehicle to
another country's launch site," Akjut said in a press release. Not quite
that historic actually, as the light-weight START vehicles can actually be
launched from anywhere using mobile launching systems. The alliance,
however, is also historic because it represents the first time a Russian
company has been granted a license to provide commercial launch services
from a foreign country. 
The first launch from SpacePort Canada under this international alliance is
projected for late 1998. SpacePort Canada says it's the world's first
international commercial polar spaceport. Akjuit is currently discussing
alliances with a number of additional classes of international launch
vehicle manufactures and satellite customers. "We look forward to
announcing in the near future, other international agreements to further
advance SpacePort Canada."

Thanks to Hornedo Rodriguez Gonzalez, Marketing Manager of Intersputnik,
here are some details on the latest EKSPRESS satellite launched on
September 26.
"Intersputnik, the Moscow based International Organisation of Space
Communications, has been authorised by Russian Space Organisations to
operate the main capacity of EKSPRESS 6. 
"EKSPRESS is a new generation of satellites designed to replace the
GORIZONT satellites. The payload consists of twelve active transponders:
One C-band (6/4 GHz) transponder of 40 MHz, nine C-band (6/4 GHz)
transponders of  36 MHz and two Ku-band (14/11GHz) transponders of 36 MHz.
The maximum EIRP of C-band transponders will be in the range of     
38.0-48.0 dBW and for Ku-band 42.0 dBW. 
"EKSPRESS 6 will be deployed at 80E to replace GORIZONT 24. It will ensure
coverage of the Eastern European continent, Northern Africa, Middle East,
Eurasia, the Indian subcontinent and South Eastern Asia. As soon as
in-orbit tests are over and the satellite becomes operational later this
year, Intersputnik will start reconnecting its existing and new clients to
EKSPRESS 6 according to received booking requests."
Interestingly, NASA has recently given the name of the satellite as
"EKPRESS 12," so don't get confused. Anyway, EKSPRESS 6 (NORAD number:
24435) is already geostationary at 80E, according to NORAD data from
October 8.

Turner's day today
Ted Turner is not exactly what you might call sentimental. For example, he
recently told his son Teddy Turner he will be laid off following the merger
with Time-Warner. Teddy worked as promotions manager for Turner's
home-video unit before being told "You're toast" by his father at a family
dinner. Approximately 1,000 layoffs are expected as a consequence of the
Nonetheless, Ted Turner seemingly burst into tears when the merger was
approved by both companies shareholders with overwhelming majorities today.
"This is a dream," Turner said. "This is the company that I've always
dreamed of and we are now here, complete, one team and one family."
The US$7.5 billion merger will create the world's largest media and
entertainment company. (Some sources say it's just US$6.7 billion, by the
Ted Turner had also something more to say about his arch rival Rupert
Murdoch who just filed a law suit against Time Warner for not carrying his
Fox News channel on cable. Time Warner was required to carry another
non-CNN channel by federal antitrust regulators but chose MSNBC instead of
Murdoch's conservative news channel. Turner called Murdoch's law suit a
"frivolous piece of junk."
He added that he regretted comparing Murdoch to Hitler. "I should have said
he's a disgrace to journalism. But an Australian disgrace to journalism."

Around the world
* Subsidising digital TV equipment is the latest fashion not only in the
U.S. and Europe -- it's a world-wide trend. In order to make digital
satellite TV widely available, Malaysia's ASTRO service (Sat-ND, 25.9.96)
will subsidise their set-top boxes with 200 Ringgit (US$80) each,
effectively bringing the price down to "just" 1,350 Ringgit (US$540.)
The boxes are produced exclusively by Philips in Brussels. Local production
will not start before the end of next year. Subscribers to ASTRO (All-Asian
Satellite Television and Radio Co.,) which initially offers less than two
dozens of TV and radio channels, will have to pay 80 ringgit (US$32) per
* Thai Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said today that his country
would cut its military budget. The move also has an effect on the planned
spy satellite system. "From now on, any project that costs a lot money, we
will have to slow down. This is due to the economic slowdown and problems
with the current account deficit," the minister said.
* Australian Science Minister Peter McGauran today announced his country
would join a consortium carrying out a A$1 million feasibility study into
ARIES 1 (Australian Resource Information and Environment Satellite.) The
consortium, comprising international mining companies, the CSIRO, Auspace
Ltd and Government Geological Surveys, plans to launch ARIES 1 f by 2000.
"The satellite would offer the most effective means of mineral exploration
anywhere in the world," McGauran said.

Zeroes and Ones
By Grandpa "Vote for Kohl" Zheng 

DirecPC rolls out in California
Internet via satellite came alive today in the USA when Hughes Electronics
finaly rolled out its high-speed, satellite-to-home data service. At least
consumers in California don't have to wait for bigger pipelines such as
ISDN telephone lines and cable modems. They need only look to the sky, and
their nearest CompUSA Computer Superstore(SM).
Hughes Network Systems, a unit of Hughes Electronics Corporation, today
announced that CompUSA will begin retailing DirecPC -- a high-speed,
satellite-based Internet access service -- in all 20 stores throughout
California, effective immediately. CompUSA will offer the "DirecPC Personal
Edition" in the over 100 CompUSA Computer Superstores nationwide starting
at the end of November.
DirecPC, which offers Internet access speeds of up to 400 kbps downstream,
is claimed to be more than three times faster than ISDN and 14 times faster
than a standard 28.8 modem. While this certainly is true for the connection
between the user and the Internet access provider, it's highly unlikely
that this speed can also be guaranteed for any arbitrary Internet
connection. (German ISDN users who access the Internet via the country's
largest IAP, T-Online, are often enough confronted with 50-cps connection
rates. It really doesn't matter too much what kind of line you use to your
access provider. The worst part of the connection chain determines your
access speed, and nothing else.)
Analysts pointed out that "Hughes is going after the very high end of the
market." True. Along with a standard monthly access fee of $9.95, four
service plans are offered. Those who want unlimited access can choose the
Moon Surfer Plan at US$39.95 per month offering unlimited access during
evening and weekend hours and 80 cents per MB during the day, or the Sun
Surfer Plan at US$129.95 per month offering unlimited use on weekdays and
60 cents per MB on evenings and weekends.
Customers who want to pay only for data downloaded can choose the Bulk Plan
at US$24.95 per month for up to 64 MB of data, used anytime, with the
option of purchasing additional blocks of 64 MB at the same price. Or they
can opt for the Basic Plan, offering 60 cents per MB during evening and
weekend hours and 80 cents per MB during the day.
In any case, users will not have to buy new computer hardware for US$700
but also have to have (and pay for) a regular Internet account. This is
needed because DirecPC still is a one-way service that works only in one
direction. To tell DirecPC _what_ you want to download from the Internet,
you still need a regular Internet account either via modem or ISDN.

Orion goes Internet, too -- in Europe
International satellite communications provider Orion Network Systems of
Rockville, Maryland (USA) and leading French Internet service provider
Internet-Way SA (Paris, France) announced today that Orion Network Systems
affiliate Orion Atlantic and Internet-Way are introducing a new
satellite-based Internet service dubbed NetCast. It promises, what else,
dramatic improvements in performance and response time for World Wide Web
users in Europe. 
The Orion satellite network, so far consisting of just one satellite, will
provide high-speed transmission of Internet traffic from the United States
to European users of NetCast.
According to Internet-Way network architect Thomas Jacobson, "complementing
terrestrial links with asymmetric and broadcast satellite transmission,
Internet-Way and Orion can reduce European bandwidth costs by as much as 50
"Coupled with recent advances in multicast protocols, this new service has
the potential to reduce bandwidth costs even further," Jacobson added.
Given the Internet's currently congested traffic profile, the architecture
will also speed delivery and improve overall quality of service. NetCast
said it will provide the basis for many new business applications, such as
desk-top conferencing, mission critical Intranets, and electronic World
Wide Web publishing for the consumer market.

Yes, this is the kind of nonsense that politicians deliver when they talk
about the Internet. Today, U.S. president Clinton proposed a US$100 million
plan to expand the reach of the Internet: "Let us reach for a goal in the
21st century of every home connected to the Internet."
Oh God, just don't! It will cost you more than just US$100 million. The Net
already is close to a breakdown, so there's really no need to attract more
users. It is simply a bogus to claim that the Internet can be made "100 to
1,000 times faster" with just US$100 million as Mr. Clinton claimed. There
are fundamental problems that can't be solved by pumping whatever amount of
money into the Internet.
Meanwhile, Clinton's competitor Bob Dole tried to show off with some
Internet knowledge, too. He announced his home page to be at
www.dolekemp96org. But unfortunately he missed the dot before "org" when he
announced the URL on last Sunday's presidential debate. 
As a result, many Web surfers ended up trying URLs such as
http://www.dole-kemp.org and http://www.dole-kemp.com. They, however, were
reserved by a Web-site design firm earlier and just carry links to, haha,
Clinton's and Gore's official site at http://www.cg96.org.
Don't forget to try all the other possible combinations of the presidential
candidates' names, combined with .com, .net and .org. Lots of surprises
await you.

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

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