Sat-ND, 24.10.96

Sat-ND 96-10-24 - Satellite and Media News

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"(c) Copyright 1996 by Sat-ND, http://www.sat-net.com/pck/"
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Peter C. Klanowski, Fax +49-451-5820055, pck@LyNet.De

This issue is sponsored by TELE-satellite, Europe's Satellite Magazine 
Have a look at their homepage! >> http://www.TELE-satellit.com/ <<

Is this a conspiration? Yesterday's Sat-ND got lost owing to a breakdown of
the machine it is usually delivered from. (That does not apply to the
distribution to rec.video.satellite.europe and alt.satellite.tv.europe.)
Today, my local provider's mail server seems to be down. Sigh!
If you read this, I guess I have managed to get both yesterday's and today's
issue through to you somehow. Sorry, but even email can get unreliable from
time to time. -- Ed.


Russian Hotline satellite to be replaced
The famous "hotline" between the White House in Washington and the Kremlin in
Moscow may have been a real telephone line once. Nowadays, of course, the
connection between the Russian and the U.S. president is satellite based.
It will move soon from its current satellite to a new one that was launched
from Russia's Plesetsk cosmodrome. A Molniya-M booster today put a MOLNIYA-3
communications satellite into orbit.
According to Russian news agency Itar-Tass, eight MOLNIYA satellites are
currently in high-apogee orbits. Their maximum distance from the Earth's
surface, also called apogee, is about 41,000 kilometres [25,600 miles].
MOLNIYA satellites have a guaranteed lifetime of just three years. The
satellite launched today will replace an older one which has exceeded its
service length. It will also be used by Russia's ORT television as well as
for regional TV broadcasts, telegraph and telephone lines.

ASIASAT 3 launch date
Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company today announced that its ASISAT 3
satellite will be launched in November next year. It will replace ASIASAT 1,
launched more than six years ago, at 105.5E.
ASIASAT was founded by China International Trust and Investment Corporation,
Cable and Wireless Plc of Britain, and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd of Hong Kong.
The company was listed on Hong Kong and New York stock exchanges in June this

Shrinking Giant
When mentioning the U.S. company Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) I usually
call them "cable giant" or something like that to reflect the fact that they
are the largest cable operator in the USA.
But the giant seems to shrink.
Recently, Standard & Poor's Corp. decided to place TCI's debt on CreditWatch.
A really bad mark which the company got because of its high cash-flow-to-debt
ratio. And yesterday, business channel CNBC got hold of a letter sent by TCI
to all its equipment suppliers, asking to "temporarily suspend all shipments"
until further notice. This move was necessary to "ensure the successful
deployment of our current inventory and control unnecessary capital
According to the Wall Street Journal, "TCI's recent stock performance has led
many to question the company's prospects for growth. And many on Wall Street
have been critical of TCI and its executives for promising more than it can
There also seems to be growing scepticism about the cable industry as a whole
for lagging behind in their ambitious promises to deliver new equipment and
services. All the wonderful new services from digital TV to cable modems may
require larger investments that previously thought.

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

Van Miert v/s Murdoch
Karel van Miert probably isn't too popular in certain circles of the media
business. Europe's competition commissioner so far has prevented quite a few
strategic alliances and other big deals. Now, he aims at Rupert Murdoch.
Speaking to BBC radio, van Miert announced he would look into the deal
between BSkyB and Britain's Football [soccer] Association (FA) that gives Mr
Murdoch's pay TV operation exclusive broadcast rights over a period of four
years. Van Miert said he'd intervene, adding "what should not happen is that
those acquiring the rights will be in such a dominant position that they are
going to impose the rules."
The move comes after the European Commission launched a probe into the
television activities of the Dutch soccer association KNVB a few months ago.
The KNVB wants to sell the exclusive rights over premier and first division
matches for seven years to the cable channel Sports which it partly owns.
Deals like the two mentioned sparked off concerns over long-term deals
involving incredible amounts of money. For example, Mr Murdoch's FA deal is
worth 670 million pounds (or about US$1 billion.) "There is this trend which
seriously worries us that increasingly a few large groups can buy such
rights," van Miert told the European parliament recently.

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

Malaysia Special
Here's a question that almost every citizen in the western world will not be
able to answer correctly. What's the world's tallest building? Come on, it's
not the Empire States Building in New York. (How old are you?) Sears Tower in
Chicago? Not bad, but wrong again. Actually, it's Petronas Towers in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia (452 metres or 1,483 ft -- 10 metres more that Sears Tower.)
Although (or because) a slight majority of Malaysia's 18.6 million
inhabitants (1995) lives in rural areas, the country is trying to give new
technologies a push. This is most obvious when it comes to the Internet.
Malaysia has so far declined to follow neighbouring Singapore (until 1965 a
member of the Federation of Malaya) in restricting access to "undesirable"
Internet sites. The country's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad recently
admitted that technology had grown too fast to be controlled: "What is
happening is that advanced telecommunications technology is moving too fast
for governments to make laws, policies or mechanisms to control it." He
called for self-censorship by consumers and providers instead, which is a
different issue. However, the Western world would be much better off if its
politicians and authorities knew just half as much about the Internet as
Malaysia's Prime Minister. (Unfortunately they don't, they are bloody
Internet illiterates.)
Television and Radio stations, nonetheless, are subject to self-censorship in
Malaysia. "They must not only censor the programmes and materials they
broadcast, but must also make an effort to choose programmes that can form
good behaviour as well as give entertainment.
"We must not be fanatics who reject everything, but we also do not need
people who are too liberal or not responsible as censors at our broadcast
stations," Mahathir said.
To understand this position, one has to consider the composition of the
country's population. Ethnic Malays make up roughly half of it, while about a
third is of Chinese origin. There are other minorities, and almost every
ethnic group has a different religion.
It's not a surprise that in such an environment even such an event as the
Michael Jackson concert scheduled for next weekend leads to political
controversies. "We are giving fans a chance to watch a live performance of
the famous entertainer," Mahathir defended the concert, adding that "If it is
out of control, it will be the last time we give our consent."
Defending the pop star, who was suspected of child abused last year, Mahathir
was reported as saying "Even if we do not watch (him) but still look at
pornographic books or materials over the Internet... do we need to impose a
ban on the Internet?"
Probably not, because Malaysia will also be the first Asian nation to
transmit a parliamentary session over the Internet tomorrow when Finance
Minister Anwar Ibrahim will announce the 1997 budget.
Malayasia: http://www.jaring.my/msia/welcome.html
The Prime Minister's Home Page: http://www.jaring.my/msia/govt/pm/pm.html
Malaysian TV and Radio: http://www.rtm.net.my/
Budget: http://live.rtm.net.my/budget97/
(Some facts and data taken from Microsoft Encarta,

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

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