Sat-ND, 13.10.96

Sat-ND 96-10-13 - Satellite and Media News

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Britain, Germany, France to set up military satellite system
While there are still difficulties in getting the Franco-German spy
satellite project HELIOS 2 on track (Sat-ND, 7.10.96,) the German defence
ministry today confirmed works together with France and Britain on another
satellite project. By 2005, the three countries will set up a network of
military communications satellites, reported the German news magazine Der
Spiegel. The system, which is needed to improve army leaders' abilities to
communicate with units in the field, will cost more than DM1 billion
according to a defence ministry spokesman (so that amount may just be the
German share.) It seems German military officials hope their army would be
increasingly be "needed" for missions abroad. At least, that's why they
claim to need the new satellites. So far, the German army rents satellite
capacity for international communications.

Japanese ministry wants common deocder
The Japanese telecommunications ministry has asked digital satellite
broadcasters and receiver manufacturers to adopt a common standard for
digital TV decoders. So far, there's just PerfecTV available, but other
services have announced to start by the end of 1997. Those alliances
include, for example, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and Hughes' DirecTV.
Reportedly, many broadcasters have reacted favourably to the ministerial
request. Actually, News Corp. proposed a common decoder a few weeks ago
(Sat-ND, 5.9.96.)

Chinas Intelsat share set to rocket
Communist China will regain sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997.
This step will also shift the balance within the International
Telecommunications Satellite Organisation Intelsat. China currently holds
2.159622 percent of Intelsat shares through its Ministry of Post and
Telecommunications, making the country the tenth largest signatory.
The United Kingdom, so far ranking number 2 amongst the signatories with a
total share of 9.19588 percent, will not only give Hong Kong back to China
but also Hong Kong Telekom. Holding 1.729345 percent of the shares, it
actually is the second largest of the UK's multiple Intelsat signatories.
China will automatically become the number 5 with a stake of 3,888967
percent, surpassed only by the USA, the United Kingdom, Japan and Italy. 
Irving Goldstein, director-general and chief executive officer of INTELSAT,
told a Chinese magazine his organisation plans to increase business in
China. The country had a potentially huge telecommunication market and was
an important customer of Intelsat, he said.
The gory details: http://www.intelsat.int/ext-rel/signat/signat.htm

No Ellipso for South Africa?
There are, of course, lots of big players in the business revolving around
satellite telephony. There are smaller ones as well. Take, for example,
Ellipsat of the USA. Never heard of them? Neither have I; they don't even
seem to have a Web site. Their satellite system Ellipso, however, is
interesting because it reportedly also involves South African companies.
According to the South African Newspaper Mail and Guardian, the consortium
is backed by the African National Congress and trade unions.
There's a small problem, though. A report by the University of Colorado
says the Ellipsat system won't work in South Africa at all. What's more,
Ellipsat CEO David Castiel reportedly said that his "business plan can do
without the people on Easter Island."
By the way: While searching the Internet, I even found an expert's opinion
that the Ellipso system is "unlikely to be realised" anyway. 
Ellipso: http://www.jagunet.com/prism/ellipsat.html
Big LEO Overview: http://www.idt.unit.no/~torwi/bigleos.htm

Happy Birthday, Leo
German media magnate Leo Kirch turns 70 on October 21. There will be a
private classical music concert celebrating his anniversary in Munich, but
at least subscribers to his digital TV package DF1 will be able to watch
it. (And maybe Zheng gets his Leo Kirch page up and running by then. In the
meantime, look at his Claudia Nolte Shrine, will ya?)
According to news magazine Der Spiegel, Kirch will restructure his media
empire in order to keep it going in the future. No, his son Thomas will not
take over the group, although he might play an important role. Instead,
KirchGruppe is likely to be converted to a foundation, which is not unusual
for German media companies. (The country's largest media company,
Bertelsmann, actually is a foundation, too.) Kirch's banking partners will
be represented in a advisory committee. Of course -- it's unlikely that
Kirch paid his recent output deals amounting to several billions of U.S.
dollars himself. Everyday business could be cared for by a holding company
that may go public later.
KirchGruppe officials today declined to comment on the report.

Here's something to really protect your children from
Just forget about all the hysteria about pornography on the Internet and on
TV. Who is going to protect children from being abused by the multi-billion
dollar advertising industry?
Kids in the U.S. have already been subjected to TV commercials for five
years -- at school! A cable network called Channel One provides
participating high schools with free television monitors. Students arriving
in class in turn watch a ten-minute programme specially tailored for them
every day, including commercials. 
Not in Europe? Well, not yet. In Britain, a marketing company is planning
to offer head teachers to earn up to the equivalent of US$15,000 a year if
they allow 100 poster sites in their schools.
Schools, instead of educating children, will almost inevitably become
advertising sites. And what happens if you let your children watch harmless
TV programmes? British commercial Breakfast TV GMTV says it takes a third
of its income from ads selling products that directly target children. Some
other freely available German TV channels survive just on their juvenile
audience in the morning, especially since market researchers expanded the
nation-wide audience panel to include viewers of as less as three (no typo,
it's really three) years of age. 
So, before complaining about the exploitation of children in any other way,
shouldn't so-called civilised nations stop to exploit their children for
most primitive business reasons?
During the last week, consumer rights groups met in Lisbon, Portugal, to
discuss the issue. Their conclusion: "Advertising directed towards children
is so overwhelming that it is becoming necessary to protect our children
from aggressive sales tactics." 
True. Just take Disney as an example. There was that "Pocahontas" movie,
and Disney probably made some money of it. But they actually made much more
money from merchandising books, records, pens, dolls and other useless
stuff. Combine that with the TV outlets of Disney/ABC all over the world,
and... well, just shudder.
The Lisbon meeting demanded that limits be placed on marketing among young
children. Sweden already bans advertising targeting children before and
after children's TV programmes. The country wants its rules to be taken
over as a standard by the European Union. Should a general agreement not be
reached, the Lisbon group demanded that "the member states should be given
the chance to approve or maintain more restrictive norms."

Rupert Watch 
By Dr Sarmaz <DrSarmaz@aol.com>

Public Access Murdoch
Something strange was going to happen on New York cable networks. As Mr
Murdoch's newly launched Fox News Channel (FNC) is still seeking to gain
access to Time Warner's cable systems, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
ordered the conservative news channel to be carried on one of the city's
Public Access channels. While New York's 1.1-million subscriber cable
network is controlled by Time-Warner, there are a few channels set aside
for the city under the federal Cable Act for Public, Educational or
Government (PEG) Channels. But instead of providing such programming,
Giuliani designated two channels to carry the Bloomberg News service and
FNC because the companies promised to "provide hundreds of jobs for New
Yorkers." It didn't work, though. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote yesterday
ordered New York City officials not to use public access channels for
airing commercial programming. She stressed that the federal Cable
Television Act prevents local governments from controlling what goes on the
air. A hearing is scheduled for October 23 to decide whether New York city
will be permanently barred from trying to force Time Warner to carry FNC.
Mr Murdoch has in the meantime filed a US$2 billion lawsuit against Time
Warner that chose to carry MSNBC instead of FNC on its cable networks. As a
result of the merger with Turner Broadcasting systems, Time Warner is
required to offer a non-CNN news channel to its subscribers.

Zeroes and Ones 
By Grandpa "I love Claudia" Zheng 

Why do online services move to the Internet? 
The Microsoft Network, with 1.6 million subscribers the world's third
largest Online Service, will offer its subscribers unlimited access to MSN
and the Internet at a flat rate of US$19.95 per month. Such a move had
widely been expected after the success of cheap Internet access providers
(Sat-ND, 9.10.96.) However, there's also the possibility to get five free
hours for just US$6.95 per month. Every extra hour will be billed at
US$2.50 each (prices outside the U.S. may vary, as MSN subscribers will
know by now.)
But Bill Gates has more in store. The MSN content will be moved to the
Internet, new services will be added. In Microsoft-speak: MSN will become a
feature-rich subscription service on the Web. More or less the usual stuff
-- music programs, game and comedy productions, an online travel agency,
city guides and investment tracking. Not exactly an online-revolution --
Other online services also plan to move their content to the World Wide
Web, and so far nobody has really asked why. 
Well, why? 
There are no advantages, at least not for subscribers. The proprietary
systems that have been in use so far at online services are far superior to
the clumsy HTML standard of the World Wide Web, which makes the appearance
of any page depend on what browser you use (instead of what the author
wants it to look like.) And if the online services just cared to keep their
own networks up to date, they would be much faster than today's Internet as
well. But that's the point. AOL has 6.5 million members, CompuServe 4.5
million. Upgrading their own networks to cope with such a vast number of
subscribers is becoming increasingly expensive. It's easier to use (or
misuse) a network that's already there; a network that others have built
-and paid for. Get the idea?

Mark Long online
The number of home pages hosted by sat-net.com has now risen to twelve, the
latest entry being Mark Long's Home Page.
Mark is one of the veterans in bringing satellite technology to a wide
audience. Many satellite enthusiasts got their first lessons in satellite
technology by reading his books.
Mark, who now lives in Thailand, is a regular contributor to TELE-satellit
magazine. His home page features his latest articles, some footprints, and
a list of what satellite channels can be received in Southeast Asia.

Re: Sat-ND, 10.10.96 [U.S. presidential candidates on the Web]
Jerry Locke Jr. told me that his favourite "presidential candidates" sites
are http://www.clinton96.org/ and http://www.powell96.org/. Thanks! (I
wonder whether anybody cares for Ross Perot, though.)

Re: Sat-ND, 10.10.96 [British porn channel ban]
"What surprises me is how long they have taken to proscribe Rendez-Vouz.
They banned TV Erotica some time ago and that started only little before
RDV, unless I'm much mistaken. However, what are the implications for RDV
now. The others went under after British proscription. 
Robert Jorgensen (a Brit despite the surname, but thankfully not living

Martyn Williams reported the following in  his TELE-satellit News service:
"Despite the channel having been in operation for a year, the UK government
took notice after a campaigners alerted the ministry to the contents of a
15 minute teaser broadcast which goes out for the first fifteen minutes of
broadcasting each night. This is unencrypted and can be viewed by anyone."
Despite the ban, this won't change. My suggestion is that the government
just saved this move for an important occasion such as the Tory party
conference (which just happens to take place once a year.)
As to the other porn channels: I guess their problems weren't really
related to being banned by the UK government. With or without the UK, the
subscriber base for such channels has turned out to be very small.
Rendez-Vous recently reported 20,000 subscribers in Europe (and not in the
UK, as British papers claimed.) If I remember it correctly, they once said
they needed 30,000 to break even. 

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

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