Sat-ND, 29.10.96

Sat-ND 96-10-29 - Satellite and Media News

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JSC launches next Friday
You may have guessed from the test card on EUTELSAT II-F3 (16E): Qatar's
first satellite channel, Al Jazeera ("Island") will launch next Friday.
Sheikh Hamad bin Thammer al-Thani, despite his impressive name just
under-secretary at the country's Ministry of Information and Culture, today
said the channel will broadcast in Arabic for six hours per day. It will
feature the usual blend of news, entertainment, and sports. The channel is
operated by the privately owned Qatar Satellite Channel Corporation.

Vietnam plans own satellite system
Vietnam is planning a communications satellite system that would make it
become less dependent from other providers. According to local papers, the
formalities have meanwhile been completed, an orbital slot has been
registered with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU.)
The first satellite should be operational by the end of this century even
though there already has been a delay. The project's feasibility study will
not be completed before mid-1997. Collecting the system's requirements from
ministries and agencies has proved to be more time-consuming than expected.

Not only well-known companies such as Hughes, Loral, Alcatel and Matra
Marconi have shown some interest in supplying the satellites for the
system, but also Japan's NEC. Japanese companies are currently eyeing the
satellite business but face the same problem as the country indigenous
launchers: They're still too expensive.
Vietnam needs the satellite system to reduce cost. Currently, transponder
capacity is leased from Intelsat, Intersputnik, and Asiasat. 

THURAYYA gets closer
It may not sound too interesting when I tell you that a satellite system
called THURAYYA will be up and running by the end of 2000. It will mainly
provide the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with GSM compatible, mobile
telephony services.
There's more, of course. The system will also cover most Arab states and
additionally parts of India, Europe, North Africa and Central Asia. Not
exactly a global reach, but certainly more than a regional system.
UAE's telecommunications company Etisalat will hold 26 percent of Thurayya,
51 percent are reserved for other UAE companies. The rest will be offered
to Arabsat and other regional telecommunications departments.
Within the next three months, a final decision is expected. So far, the
company's board has reviewed offers from two French and a U.S. company.
"The three offers have been referred to a German consultant to see how
close they match with requested specifications," said Etisalat
director-general Ali Oweiss.

Talks between Canada and the U.S. over direct broadcast satellite
transmissions have come to a standstill. According to Canadian Industry
Minister John Manley, the U.S. demanded Canada drop restrictions on foreign
programming. Manley replied that ''We have no intention of entering
negotiations on that basis. Content is simply not on the table.'' In order
to protect its own culture, Canada has imposed limitations on U.S.
programming (which nonetheless still is available to most Canadians via
terrestrial or satellite spillover.)
The minister announced the government would soon issue a decision on
Telesat Canada's request for two orbital slots. The company wants to place
four broadcast satellites there in order to beam digital TV to both Canada
and the U.S. They will mainly serve U.S. cable giant TCI which failed to
get a domestic digital TV license. TCI plans to sell two of its satellites
to Telesat and subsequently lease most of their capacity to provide a
digital TV service for the U.S.

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

Rupert rules digital TV
In case anybody shouldn't have noticed: Mr Murdoch is the gatekeeper to
pay-TV in the UK. His company News Datacom has developed Videocrypt, an
encryption system that has become the standard for encoded satellite
broadcasts in the United Kingdom. Any pay-TV service aimed at the UK has no
choice but to talk to News Datacom and, in fact, to BSkyB as well.
Given the situation, it's a bit strange that papers and politicians now
seem to realise that it won't work any other way when it comes to digital
"Within a few years the whole of British broadcasting will be under [Mr
Murdoch's] control, the only entry to the new technology will be with his
permission, through his gateway," wrote Independent columnist Polly
Toynbee. I hate to break the news to you, but this already is the case as
far as satellite TV is concerned.
Mr Murdoch's highly profitable pay television service British Sky
Broadcasting (BSkyB) will introduce digital broadcasting next year, and
despite the new technology, it will work out just as it did with BSkyB and
Videocrypt. Observers noted that both the government and the opposition
party had bowed to accommodate Mr Murdoch's digital TV plans. Both parties
are said to fear Mr Murdoch's papers which may have an important impact on
the coming general election. 
The Guardian also accused the conservative government of favouring Mr
Murdoch by allowing him to "use the UK as a cash-cow for US businesses."
The Tories "seem to be hypnotised by the dazzling reach of his activities
to the point where they cannot see that we are about to hand him a great
deal more political clout, together with the subservience of British
broadcasting," wrote Henry Porter.

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

Good-bye, CPI
Internet users will burst to tears when they read this! Legal action taken
by online services AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy have forced one of the
world's most biggest Email spammers to shut down operations --- hopefully
forever. Cyber Promotions Inc. (CPI) has not only lost its Internet access
but reportedly is also close to bankruptcy. Well, who said those online
services were no good at all? The hard-core Internet community probably
wouldn't have been able to kick those guys out.
"America Online has forced us out of business. Right now we don't have a
business, and it's difficult to fight, when you don't have money coming in
the door," whines CPI president Sanford Wallace. Great! Now, let's shut
down all those other spammers.

Beep, beep -- line busy
There may be certain differences in China's approach to the Internet.
Unwanted material is censored by state authorities. All traffic has to pass
central nodes in Beijing an Shanghai, where adult or politically sensitive
material is filtered out. With the censorship in place, users no longer
have to register with the police to gain access to the world-wide computer
Having said that, Internet access in China is about just the same as
everywhere on the world. Most of all, it's darn slow. "Popularity is no
problem, it's super-popular, but the government is not re-investing the
money at a fast enough rate. So there's still a lot of technical problems.
People are having trouble with access and speed once they get on," a
Shanghai computer industry expert told Reuters. 
The whole censorship issue might fold very soon, anyway. Other lines to the
outside world are believed to exist, and besides: Any censorship doesn't
just encourage hackers. It actually produces them. Reportedly, they already
found quite a number of wholes in the Chinese server set-up.

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

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