Sat-ND, 23.10.96

Sat-ND 96-10-23 - Satellite and Media News

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This issue is sponsored by TELE-satellite, Europe's Satellite Magazine 
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Junk mail research
I would like to ask all Sat-ND subscribers a question for, say, research
purposes. Did you receive an email with the subject "Investment Idea" from
an XS4ALL account in the Netherlands recently? If so, please drop me a
short notice (pck@LyNet.De) -- a simple "yes" will do. If not, just forget
it. Anyway: Thank you very much in advance.

Traffic lights on French TV
Strange symbols will appear on French TV screens as from November 18: green
circles, orange triangles and red squares. TF1, France 2, France 3 and M6,
the country's four major TV channels, have agreed to mark violent or
sexually explicit programmes with on-screen symbols. The measure is
introduced to shield children from unwanted content. It consequently
applies to fictional as well as non-fictional programming such as news
shows and documentaries. 
Green means that children should ask their parents for permission to watch
the programme, while orange indicates they must ask them. (Well, will they
anyway?) The red square, of course, stands for "Adults Only."
The announcement came following pressure by the state broadcasting agency
CSA. It had urged broadcasters to adopt voluntary measures in order to
avoid mandatory control of programming. The four channels involved have
nation-wide terrestrial outlets and are regularly watched by 90 percent of
the population. All other channels, including the popular pay-TV channel
Canal+ and Franco-German channel arte, are not going to introduce the TV
traffic lights.

DirecTV announces two millionth subscriber
DirecTV, the USA's first digital TV service, announced it has doubled its
subscriber base within less than a year by activating its two millionth
DirecTV, a Hughes subsidiary, stressed it would continue to "aggressively
expand its service beyond its core market -- single family homes -- into a
number of new and growing markets, including the 25-million home
multiple-family dwelling unit market, commercial establishments,
recreational vehicles and boats."
The service delivers more than 175 digitally compressed channels over their
DBS satellites (101W,) receivable with 18-inch (45 cm) satellite dishes.
DIRECTV -- in tandem with Hughes-Avicom -- is also the first DBS service to
provide in-flight news and entertainment programming for airplane
passengers as part of a six-month test program with Delta Airlines.

ORBCOMM expands to Europe, Asia, Africa
ORBCOMM Global, L.P. (ORBCOMM) has signed a major new agreement for the
distribution of ORBCOMM satellite-provided mobile data communications
services in 40 European countries, covering virtually the entire continent.
Orbital also announced that two other licensee agreements have been signed,
one in the rapidly expanding Southeast Asian market and one in Northwest
The planned ORBCOMM system consists of a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite
fleet providing low-cost, two-way global and messaging service for mobile
communications, person-to-person communications, two-way Internet access,
remote industrial monitoring and environmental data collection.
ORBCOMM's new licensees will together pay approximately Can$30 million for
franchise fees, ground facilities, other infrastructure costs and marketing
and related investments. These agreements cover the marketing, sales and
distribution rights of ORBCOMM services in 47 countries with a total
population of approximately 900 million people.
In Europe, ORBCOMM services will be distributed by the newly formed ORBCOMM
Europe, a consortium made up of European telecommunications companies led
by Nuova Telespazio, the space technology and services division of the
Italian communications holding company, STET Group. The consortium also
includes companies from Great Britain, Germany and Sweden.
In the Southeast Asia region, Cellular Communications Network Sdn. Bhd., a
wholly owned subsidiary of Technology Resources Industries Bhd. (TRI) of
Malaysia, will distribute and sell ORBCOMM services in Singapore, Malaysia
and Brunei. (TRI also bought into ORBCOMM a few weeks ago.) For Northwest
Africa, ORBCOMM Maghreb, S.A. will supply ORBCOMM services in Morocco,
Tunisia, Algeria and Mauritania.
Under the licensee agreements, each regional distributor will construct one
or more gateway Earth stations and a central message processing control
centre. The ground facilities in each of the regions are scheduled to be
operational by the end of 1997. The new licensees will be responsible for
securing all required regulatory approvals and for marketing and selling
ORBCOMM communications services in their representative markets.
The ORBCOMM satellite system will consist of 28 satellites revolving the
globe in low-Earth orbit. Until now, just two of them have been launched,
and both experienced some problems first which could be corrected later.
The next 26 ORBCOMMs are due to be launched within the next 18 months using
Pegasus and Taurus launch vehicles which, by the way, are fired off from
planes in flight. 
http://www.orbital.com/ (BTW: a very nicely done Web site!)

Re: Sat-ND, 22.10.96 [Hollywood on the Nile]
Henk C. Room sent in this interesting comment from Cairo:
Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak inaugurated the complex already two years
ago. At that time, the area was marked up, an entrance gate was erected as
well as a small ghost town built in Hollywood style, now to become part of
Egyptian TV serials production. What is right in Bombay, India (Bollywood,)
is OK in Egypt -- "Hollywood on the Nile". 
The fact is that most of the Arabic serials and movies are produced in
Egypt -- just look around the several channels now available via ARABSAT in
Europe. The lack of professional equipment for production and transmission
is, however, clearly visible in broadcasts from Egypt. By awarding a
contract to build a complete set of TV production studios, this obstacle
will be overcome within a couple of years.
The control over satellite reception is exerted by restricting decoding
equipment from being imported. Decoders are nonetheless still available on
the black market.
BTW, the ORBIT channels are not approved of by the government, either. IRDs
for ORBIT are restricted from being imported. There is no advertisement or
even a contact address available for ORBIT subscriptions in Egypt.

Re: Sat-ND, 22.10.96 [Kirch's d-box]
Jürgen Krauss complained about yesterday's article that hinged on Leo
Kirch's digital TV package and its decoder, the so-called d-box. It
included a statement that this set-top box "can't receive almost anything
else but Kirch's channels."
Jürgen points out that channels such as SAT, Pro 7, ARD, ZDF, DSF
(Deutsches Sportfernsehen), Sport Nordic, Hal Nordic, Cartoon / TNT, CNN,
Mosaique (a preview channel of Canal Satellite,) Kabel 1 and Msat can be
received with the d-box. In addition, Vox and RTL can be received on a DFS
Kopernikus satellite.
Okay, my point is: the d-box wasn't created to watch these channels! German
free-to-air channels will probably use it for digital distribution, simply
because they have no other choice. (And some of them are Kirch owned
channels as well ;-) 
So what? They're all available in analogue mode as well, and experts say
this will continue for at least ten years. By then, there will be new
set-top boxes anyway. As to the foreign channels that can be picked up with
the d-box in Germany or Austria: I suggest you'd better not rely on their
permanent availability. Remember, we're still more or less in an
experimental phase as far as European pay TV is concerned. Don't take
anything for granted.
I was also told that digital TV fans from neighbouring countries such as
the Netherlands were trying to get hold of d-boxes in German shops. In a
word: Don't! Nobody gives you a guarantee that you'll be able to use it for
just anything, and if you don't live in the German speaking countries, you
can't subscribe to DF1 even if you want to waste your money on that.
The digital TV reality will sadly consist of national packages, to be
received with relatively cheap set-top boxes. Probably, they'll come more
or less for free in one or two year's time when you subscribe to a digital
TV service. On the other hand, they will deprive you of anything you're not
supposed to watch, and they'll do it much more rigidly than you're already
used to from analogue satellite TV.

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

XXX domains shelved
A plan to expand international Top Level Domain (iTLD) names on the
Internet was effectively sacked by the Internet society by announcing it
will install an international ad-hoc committee to further review the issue
Internet Society's president Don Heath was quoted as saying "There just
seems to be no consensus at all. The facts of life are that people want
descriptive names and vanity plates." An original proposal, written by Jon
Postel, long-time head of the Internet Assigned Number Authority, called
for adding up to 150 new iTLDs to allow more descriptive names while
reducing the load that is primarily carried by the ".com" international Top
Level Domain. For example, hard-core porn sites were suggested to get an
".xxx" address instead.
Of course, this issue has nothing to do with the real problems of the
Internet, one of them being a foreseeable shortage of IP addresses. All the
recent hubbub is just about names that don't mean anything, technically
speaking, but have sparked off quite a few court cases. The most famous of
them, of course, was initiated by music channel MTV. A former employee had
reserved the domain name mtv.com. The case was settled out of court,
So, the Internet community still has to wait and see what happens. It is,
after all, a U.S. problem. While there is an official ".us" domain, almost
nobody uses it. Instead, most sites use ".com," ".net," ".org," and ".edu."
All of them are, in principle, also available to the rest of the world.
Just delve into the Internet RFCs for further information.

Really Enigmatic Music
I already stated I consider R.E.M. one of the most hyped and least talented
bands in the history of pop music. So, what's funny about this announcement
by Warner Bros. Records? 
"'The R.E.M. Radio Hour: A Live Conversation With Berry, Buck, Mills &
Stipe,' will take place on Sunday, November 3rd, from 6:00-7:00 p.m.
pacific time (9:00-10:00 p.m. eastern time) and will be broadcast live from
the Museum of Radio and Television in Los Angeles."
Yes, of course! A museum, that's were those guys belong. Puke! Masochists
can also catch the "event" on Warner Bros. Records' most irrelevant R.E.M.

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

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