Sat-ND, 31.10.96

Sat-ND 96-10-31 - Satellite and Media News

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SICRAL to be launched with Ariane 5
Arianespace has a new customer for its new rocket Ariane 5. But sorry, no
new TV channels for you. SICRAL, which is expected to go up in the second
half of 1999, is a military satellite. It is designed to provide secure
telecommunications for the Italian Ministry of Defence and civil security
forces for both domestic needs and remote operations.
The satellite, which has a weight of 2,500 kg at lift-off, will be built
and operated by an Italian consortium called SITAB. Alenia Spazio is
responsible for the system's general architecture, and will also develop
and construct the satellite and fixed or mobile receiver terminals. BPD
Difesa & Spazio (Fiat Avio Group) will manage the launch contract, and is
also responsible for the satellite's propulsion system. Nuova Telespazio
will construct the control centre.
Arianespace has now 43 satellites to launch, totalling a value of
approximately FF 17.6 billion (US$3.4 billion,) the company said in a press

Primestar goes DBS at 119W
It was recently known as "PRIMESTAR, the satellite TV entertainment service
that doesn't require the purchase of satellite equipment." At least, every
press release of theirs started that way for some time. Now that receivers
have become cheaper, the service owned by cable operators
Tele-Communications Inc., Comcast Inc. and Time Warner Inc. is simply
called "PRIMESTAR by TCI."
It will, however, become the first Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) venture
to offer two different services, moving forward with plans to launch a
high-powered direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service at 119 degrees.
(Strangely enough, that's where ECHOSTAR 1 is right now, offering a
rivalling service.) Primestar's current service is broadcast in the Ku band
using a medium power satellite. It will be transferred to GE 2 at 85W once
the satellite is launched.
A press release issued today stays pretty vague as to what will be shown on
what satellite. "We are disappointed that the U.S. and Canadian trade
agencies were unable to reach an agreement regarding the TEMPO/Telesat
transaction," said PRIMESTAR Partners' Chairman and CEO James L. Gray.
"However, this will not delay our plans to launch an alternate high-powered
service next year. We are currently preparing one of our two Loral
satellites to launch from Cape Canaveral in February."
The satellite will launch into a slot at 119W, where eleven transponders
are licensed to TCI-owned TEMPO. They will allow PRIMESTAR to initially
launch a 70 to 80 channel high-powered service delivered via a 35cm
(13.8-inch) dish in 1997. With the expected rapid advancements in
compression technology, PRIMESTAR ultimately intends to expand this service
to more than 150 channels.
No, they don't have a Web Site (although the domain primestar.com was
reserved.) Just have a look at this instead:

Another Canal+ deal
French pay-TV company Canal+ today announced a long-term deal with Sony
Corp. for pay TV and pay-per-view rights to films and TV programs from its
Columbia and TriStar studios. The deal covers Canal+'s analogue pay-TV
channel, which has 12 million subscribers, and their digital TV bouquet.
Unlike a recent deal with MCA Universal, it does not include the creation
of channels designed specifically for France
Canal+, which launched their Canalsatellite bouquet in April, has also
signed similar deals with Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. 

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

Where do we go today? 
When writing about Mr Murdoch's global TV empire, one can't be too sure
beforehand. This time, we'll follow him to Brazil where the inaugural
launch of Sky Entertainment Services was announced today.
This, of course, is nothing but another digital TV package consisting of
the usual melange of more or less interesting channels which viewers
nonetheless have to subscribe to in packages. Yes, it's all there, movies,
sports, news, Pay-Per-View, local and children's programming. Murdoch
channels, other channels, and there'll even be Italy's RAI and Germany's
Deutsche Welle TV.
The service is operated by NET, a joint venture of Organizacoes Globo, Mr
Murdoch's News Corporation, Ltd., and Tele-Communications International,
Inc. (TCI.) [Will there ever be a Sat-ND without TCI? -- Ed.]
The new service in Brazil will occupy four transponders on PAS 3R (43W)
initially. The service will move to PAS 6, scheduled for launch by the end
of this year. From the same orbital position, twelve transponders will be
used then.
Most Brazilians will be able to receive the satellite signal with a 60cm
dish antenna, decoder box and remote control. It's not exactly cheap,
though. Decoders, 100,000 of which have been ordered from the UK's Pace
Micro Technology Plc, will retail at a suggested price of R$955 (US$925.)
Just the basic tier of the Brazilian Sky package will cost subscribers R$40
(US$37) per month. I leave it up to you to compare that to the prices in
the U.S. or Europe, but I definitely invite you to send in any comment.
Brazil has a heavy demand for television viewing with approximately 35
million television households and a pay-TV penetration of only 4.3 percent,
NET said in a news release. The company expects Brazil's pay-TV penetration
to increase to 30 percent of total TV households by the year 2006 (11.5
million subscribers).

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

That does it! Internet brings down telephone traffic
The Internet is evil, we all know it. It tells you how to build bombs, and
it's full of kiddie-porn. It tells teenagers how to commit suicide and
women how to be tortured and strangled if they want to. It distracts many
company employees from doing useful work, and it will finally establish the
world-wide rule of Neo-Nazis or the so-called Church of Scientology (choose
You may think I'm crazy, but that's just a brief rundown of the latest
"news" carried by news agencies all around the world. Some day, I promise
you, I'll put a collection of all this idiotic stuff on the Web.
Until then, just read this. Telephone traffic in California, USA, becomes
increasingly congested. The reason, of course, is the Internet, which is
most popular in this region. According to a study by Pacific Telesis of
Silicon Valley, about 16 percent of local telephone calls in California
don't get through anymore, resulting in either a busy signal or a dead
Why? Internet users block the lines, and they just never can say good-bye.
The main problem lies in the fact that Internet calls are far longer than
the voice calls, reported the Los Angeles Times. The average Internet call
takes 20 minutes, compared to the average phone call at four minutes. Ten
percent of Internet calls lasted at least six hours.
"We're coming close to gridlock," Amir Atai of Bellcore, the research arm
of the regional Bell companies, told the paper. Bellcore also found that
Internet users who were offered a flat rate stay online even twice as long.

Computers just too complicated for Americans?
Consumer research is a delicate issue. Ask them what you want, and they'll
agree with you. Market researchers reported today that a majority of
Americans would prefer Internet access via TV to that over personal
computers. Which is surprising as more than a third of U.S. households
already own a computer. But, well, it's all so complicated, isn't it?
The survey, carried out by Yankelovich Partners Inc., is based upon 1,000
telephone interviews (which by the way is not a too huge basis for a
country as large as the USA.) "Consumer receptivity to TV Internet access
is surprisingly strong," said Hal Quinley, a partner at the research firm.
Okay, but why? Because they don't know what the Internet really is. About
three quarters of the respondents said they want the Internet to be simple
and easy to use. Okay, but then it's not the real Internet, and you should
subscribe to AOL instead or, even better, just keep on watching TV.
News Agency UPI even went as far as quoting an industry analyst who thinks
that "The Internet needs to find, secure and build its relationship with
new users in order to flourish."
The whole thing is close to a total breakdown, and you want to invite
millions of TV surfers? Come on, just keep 'em out! (There's a positive
aspect, however: They wouldn't be able contribute to newsgroups or send any
email. How could they, with their remote controls? I know, there are remote
keyboards being developed for them, but I think they'll be just too
complicated for them, either.)

Money for nothing
Just say "digital," and politicians go crazy, promising you millions of new
jobs. Politicians usually aren't experts, that's why they're frequently
Two years ago, Europe's biggest multimedia project was initiated. No, it
had nothing to do with the Internet -- politicians didn't even know what
that was in 1994. Instead, 4,000 households in Stuttgart, Germany, were to
be linked using Deutsche Telekom's cable network and set-top boxes. The
number of participating households was later reduced to 2,500. Today, it
was set to zero.
The set-top box developed for the service worked just fine in one
direction. Users could have a look at all the glitzy content offered, but
they couldn't respond to any offers.
Following a two-week examination, Deutsche Telekom today declared the
gadget developed by Alcatel SEL useless. The state government of
Baden-Württemberg in turn declared the project dead.
When introducing the project two years ago, a politician fantasised about
five million new jobs. The result actually is just DM6 million (US$4
million) spent for nothing.

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

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