Sat-ND, 25.10.96

Sat-ND 96-10-25 - Satellite and Media News

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PanAmSat appeals, maintains conspiracy theory
PanAmSat Corp. has announced it will appeal the U.S. district court's
dismissal of its antitrust lawsuit against Comsat Corp. The court said
PanAmSat had failed to present sufficient evidence for a conspiracy of
Comsat and other Intelsat signatories. The suit was filed by PanAmSat seven
years ago following the launch of their first satellite, PAS 1 (Sat-ND,
In a press release, PanAmSat said will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals to
review the lower court's refusal to consider direct evidence of Comsat's
"anti-competitive activity." According to PanAmSat, the refusal was based
on Comsat's immunity from U.S. antitrust laws due to its status as a
signatory of the international telecommunications organisation Intelsat.

Geostationary satellite received with 7.5 cm antenna
So you thought reaching a geostationary satellite required a fixed dish.
Actually, it doesn't. The Center for Industrial Research Applications at
West Virginia University (CIRA) reported it has used a so-called
"Contrawound Toroidal Helical Antenna" (CTHA) to connect to a geostationary
satellite in the UHF frequency band.
What's remarkable about this test: The antenna consisted of a ring 7.5
centimetres (3") in diameter and 1.3 centimetres (1/2") tall. Low power was
used for the transmission, and besides the frequency used was more that 50
MHz away from the frequency the antenna was optimised for.
It may sound like a miracle, but the approach is simple. What makes the
usual antennas big is the effort to concentrate the beam in order to
achieve a high gain. This, however, makes mobile use almost impossible as
the antenna has to be directed to the satellite at all times. In contrast,
the CTHA could be embedded in a briefcase or placed on a window sill and
receive a signal at any time, regardless of its orientation thereby
eliminating the need to have a rigid holder or an operator standing by to
receive the signal.
By the way: the antenna isn't only good for satellite connections. It can
be used for terrestrial groundwave, skywave, near-incident vertical
skywave, and line-of-sight transmissions as well.

News from Hughes
Sea Launch Co. announced today that Hughes Space and Communications
International, Inc., has exercised options to order three additional
commercial satellite launches aboard Sea Launch rockets. By exercising the
launch options, Hughes has increased the number of firm Sea Launch orders
to 13. The launches will help send a constellation of 12 satellites for ICO
Global Communications into orbit from 1998.
Today's announcement brings the number of firm launch orders announced by
Sea Launch Co. to 18. In addition to 13 orders (and additional options)
held by Hughes, five launch orders are held by Space Systems/Loral. The
launches will be conducted from an ocean-going launch complex comprised of
two ships which are under construction in Norway, using rocket components
being manufactured in Russia and the Ukraine. Sea Launch will operate from
a U.S. home port which is under construction in Long Beach, California, in
close vicinity to most of the major U.S. satellite manufacturers.
The first Sea Launch mission is slated for June 1998, when the company will
launch Hughes' first Model 702 high-power telecommunications satellite that
will become part of Hughes Galaxy satellite system.
The three launches announced today will be for Hughes Model 601 satellites,
which will become part of ICO Global Communications' planned constellation
of 12 satellites. These satellites will be in a medium Earth orbit some
10,300 kilometres (6,400 miles) high, and will provide satellite-enabled
global phone, data, facsimile and basic messaging services, primarily
through hand-held phones similar to current cellular units. The system will
be operated by ICO Global Communications, Ltd. The company was established
in January 1995 to provide satellite-enabled global mobile communications
services. ICO has 47 investors comprising telecommunications and technology
companies from 45 countries world-wide as well as Hughes, Inmarsat and NEC.
Hughes Space and Communications International, Inc., of Los Angeles has
separately announced it has selected the new Delta III rocket to launch
five more ICO satellites beginning in 1999.
Hughes became the first customer for Delta III last year, signing a long
term contract for 10 launches plus options. They have since exercised three
options for a total of 13 firm launches.
Delta III is a next-generation expendable launch vehicle being developed by
McDonnell Douglas to target the medium to intermediate payload range. The
payload capacity for Delta III is 3,800 kilograms (8,400 pounds) to
geosynchronous transfer orbit, more than twice the payload capacity of the
record-setting Delta II.
The most significant changes in Delta III's evolution from the existing
Delta II are a new single-engine, cryogenically-propelled upper stage and a
larger fairing to house the payload. The inaugural flight of Delta III is
scheduled for 1998 when Hughes Communications, Inc.'s Galaxy X launches
from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida.

Sci-Fi moves
Since Thursday evening (19.00 CET ), Sci-Fi Channel is also broadcasting at
12,054 GHz lhc on TV SAT 2, 0.6W. The reason is probably the so far poor
coverage of the Scandinavian countries (I use a 120 cm dish myself but
still have sparklies in my picture, especially when France Telecom is
broadcasting from almost the same frequency on Telecom 1C). I have no date
of close down on Tele-X (5E) yet.
Richard Karlsson <http://hem.passagen.se/richardx/>

Re: Sat-ND, 22.10.96 [Traffic lights on French TV]
Channel 4 TV in the UK did this a couple (few) of years ago and rapidly had
to take the symbol off as there was so much reaction against it..
I wonder whether the same will happen here. :-)
Graham Sorenson <http://www.fragrant.demon.co.uk/>

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

Rupert Murdoch's financing knack
Not even Rupert Murdoch can spend billion after billion from his own
pockets. In order to finance his News Corp.'s expansion to digital TV, Mr
Murdoch announced he seeks to sell preference shares to institutional
investors. They can later be swapped for shares in British Sky Broadcasting
Nothing really new; Mr Murdoch used this trick several times before. He
saved BSkyB from bankruptcy back in 1988 by issuing preference shares most
of which were later converted to Pearson PLC shares, a company then owned
by News Corp. 
The latest financing strategy is expected to raise US$1 billion. In
addition, News Corp. incurred a debt of US$1 billion earlier this month.
BSkyB shares, which have risen more than 70% in the past year, began to
slide at the London stock exchange as the move may mean Mr Murdoch will
eventually reduce his 40 percent share in BSkyB. There were more bad news,
Britain's Office of Telecommunications (Oftel) ruled on Wednesday that a
promotion by BSkyB and British Telecommunications PLC (BT) violates BT's
license. Members of a BT calling plan were also promised a substantial
discount on BSkyB subscriptions. "It seems to me that this promotion is
discriminatory in that it targets -- and offers continuing benefits to --
only those who become and remain customers of both BT and BSkyB," stated
Oftel director Don Cruickshank.
BT may not enter the television business before 2002. Critics argued the
joint promotion with BSkyB with circumvent this regulation that was set up
to protect cable operators. Nevertheless, BSkyB and BT have some more
common plans. They want to set up an Internet service with content provided
by News Corp.'s U.K. newspapers. Besides, they are negotiating a joint
digital TV venture that may be launched next autumn. And, should anybody
care to remember, Mr Murdoch's BSkyB venture started out on ASTRA
transponders leased by, you guessed it, British Telecom.

Here come the Sun King
"When you work for Rupert Murdoch you do not work for a company chairman or
chief executive: you work for a Sun King."
"Normal management structures -- all the traditional lines of authority,
communication and decision-making in the modern business corporation do not
matter. The Sun King is all that matters."
"During the 11 years I was editor, Rupert fired or eased out every chief
executive of real talent or independent mindset."
"He lacks the confidence to bet on his hunches or to take the risks in
television he would think nothing of in newspapers. He believes, with good
reason, his instincts are infallible when it comes to print, but in
television he is more inclined to defer to whatever seasoned executives are
currently in favour."
"It is the excitement of the deal that attracts him. It awakens the gambler
in him. It suits his short attention span. It makes him one of the world's
greatest business predators. But these very qualities make him a lousy
"When Rupert dies, there will be no management team in place ready to fill
the breach and few managers with any real experience of taking important
Andrew Neil, long-time editor of Mr Murdoch's Sunday Times, in his
autobiography "Full Disclosure." Buy it!

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

Good news for you and me
Bad times for so-called content providers on the Internet. The main content
so far is delivered by people like you and me who offer something for free,
acknowledging they get something in return. Yes, just a primitive give and
take, maybe like in the stone ages, but who cares.
Commercial ventures don't do so well because they have not much to offer
but complicated registration forms. Even if they don't want any money from
you, they're still trying to deliver you to the advertising industry.
For the average Internet user, it's definitely a good sign that Wired has
for the second time been forced to cancel plans to sell public stock. The
company blamed "adverse market conditions" for scrapping its public offer.
Wired's main business is a monthly (printed) magazine with a paid
circulation estimated at 325,000. Its main feature is that you can't tell
the ads from the editorial content because both appear in the same freaky
layout. That sure sounds fun to the advertising industry, but nonetheless,
Wired's publishing company has never reported a profit so far. It lost
about US$15 million on operations in the first half of 1996, more than the
previous three years combined.
The last time Wired tried to go public was in July. The company backed off
because stocks didn't perform too well on Wall Street back then. Bad
timing, eh?

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

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