Sat-ND, 1.11.96

Sat-ND 96-11-01 - Satellite and Media News

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WARNING: This issue of Sat-ND contains the f***-word and thus isn't
suitable for minors. Don't read on if you're easily offended by foul
language, or if you are under 31, or if you happen to be a politician who
censors the Internet. Cheers.


British Telecom may take over MCI 
The telecommunications company today announced it was considering a
"strategic merger" with MCI Communications Corporation, the US's
second-largest long-distance telephone company. The proposed deal is seen
as an attempt by BT to take over MCI, creating a rival that could challenge
AT&T as the world's leading long-distance company. 
A BT spokesman said that the company's board will "meet over the weekend to
consider an anticipated proposal from MCI. BT anticipates that it will be
able to make an announcement prior to the opening of the London markets on
BT bought a 20-percent stake in MCI for US$4.3 billion back in 1994. Last
June, both companies announced to combine their Internet networks (Sat-ND,
10.6.96.) MCI also is an important partner of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
in launching his digital U.S. pay-TV service ASkyB. The participation of
MCI, which also was to take over a 13-percent share of News Corp., is
expected to be scaled down (Sat-ND, 18.10.96.)

Indonesian Broadcasting law delayed
Indonesia's first broadcasting bill well be delayed as the parliament has
extended the debate to other media, including the Internet. Abu Hasan
Sazili chairman of the parliamentary broadcast committee said on Friday
denied recent reports that claimed the committee was under pressure from
commercial broadcasters. The new legislation is expected to allow
advertising on Indonesia's state-run TVRI (Televisi Republik Indonesia)
although foreign advertising may be restricted for all broadcasters
(Sat-ND, 9.10.96.)
Sazili denied today that "privately owned television stations have lobbied
us strongly not to allow TVRI to carry advertising," even though TV
advertising in Indonesia already is a multi-billion dollar business (about
US$670 million in 1995.) Instead, he explained the delay with the need to
discuss cable television, the Internet and multi-media applications.

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

The BSkyB Dilemma: Profits rise, shares drop
Soaring subscriber numbers and record profits -- BSkyB managing director
and chief executive Sam Chisholm, presenting the quarterly figures of the
UK's pay-TV monopolist, today only had good news to tell: "The company has
performed strongly in the first quarter of the financial year and has
achieved significant growth in both revenue and profits."
There were 5.65 million subscribers at the end of September, 146,000 more
than three months before. Pre-tax profits climbed from 50.8 million pounds
in the corresponding quarter last year to 66.3 million pounds. During the
same period, revenue from satellite dish subscriptions grew by 22 percent,
that from cable even by 49 percent.
Yet, analysts just yawned at these figures they expected anyway, and BSkyB
shares dropped by 1.6 percent at some point today. Many questions remained
unanswered as there were only mysterious statements from BSkyB. For
example, the company said it was considering investing in additional German
pay-TV channels. Well, except for premiere (analogue) and DF-1 (digital)
there is no pay-TV in Germany. BSkyB announced last summer it would take
over 49 percent of DF 1 stake from local media mogul Leo Kirch but so far
hasn't done so. It is also known that Mr Murdoch would like to acquire a
25-percent stake in premiere. This, however, is impossible as the channel's
shareholders (Kirch and Canal+/Bertelsmann) currently fight each other in
court over broadcasting rights for premium movies.
Digital pay-TV will be introduced in the UK next autumn, offering up to 200
channels on ASTRA 2A where 14 transponders were leased. The satellite will
not join the existing fleet of ASTRA satellites but use a different orbital
position, thus at least requiring a dish re-alignment. The set-top to be
used for the service is still under development. BSkyB specifications call
for a socket allowing other boxes, for instance those for terrestrially
distributed digital TV, to be coupled with them.
Of course, the boxes will be heavily subsidised. The retail price is
expected to be in the range between 200 and 300 pounds while production
costs are estimated at 300 to 400 pounds. Without subsidy, they would
normally cost 500 or 600 pounds. Statements by company officials indicate
that there are still discussions going on how to get the price down. There
have even been negotiations with banks and other possible providers of
digital home services on subsidising decoders.
So, in the end, all those wonderful figures couldn't help stop the decline
of BSkyB stock which dropped 22 percent over the last two weeks. Recently,
Mr Murdoch's News Corp announced plans to use BSkyB stock to back an issue
of preferred shares (Sat-ND, 25.10.96.)
In order to raise US$1 billion needed to finance News Corp.'s expansion to
digital TV, Mr Murdoch announced he would sell preference shares which
later can be swapped for shares in British Sky Broadcasting PLC.

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

Western Australia censors Internet
Does Western Australia belong to the Western World? The name implies it, in
a way. Yet, the Censorship Act 1996 that came into effect today seems to
come from a different world, even though it reportedly just brings Western
Australia up to date with regulations in the country's other states and
Censorship applies not only the Internet but also to "bulletin boards,
e-mail and other services provided by on-line computer services and other
regional and local computer networks" as well, as Fair Trading Minister
Cheryl Edwardes proudly proclaimed today. The new law makes it an offence
for a person to transmit, obtain possession of, demonstrate, advertise or
request the transmission of material which a person knew to be
Whatever that means, but it certainly has got nothing to do with freedom of
speech. What the fuck -- some people even find posting Sat-ND to newsgroups

Good-bye, Netscape
Oh well, the Internet industry's underdog (also known as everybody's
darling) needs some cash infusion to continue fighting Billyboy's evil
empire. Netscape Communications Corp. announced a secondary offering that
consists of five million shares to be sold at US$47 each. Don't search for
your calculator, that'll make US$235 million. For what? 
Netscape's work force has grown from 115 to 1,400 employees within a year
-- pretty explosive, but that sounds more like a frenzy than a healthy
growth. Netscape said proceeds from the offering would be used for general
corporate purposes, including new office space and computer equipment.
It also means saying good-bye to renowned companies that initially invested
in Netscape, such as Knight-Ridder Inc., Adobe Systems Inc.,
Tele-Communications Inc. and Hearst Corp. It's their stock that will be
sold. And if I had any, I'd sell it, too.

Re: Sat-ND, 31.10.96 [Computers just too complicated for Americans?]
I'm so sorry! I've just heard that the Yankelovich survey quoted in
yesterday's Sat-ND was actually sponsored by WebTV. The survey said that
most Americans would prefer to surf the World Wide Web on their TV sets
rather that on Personal Computers. And guess what? WebTV happens to offer
such a set-top box for TV sets in stores. So, you just might as well forget
about those findings.

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

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