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Sat-ND, 3.11.96




Sat-ND 96-11-03 - Satellite and Media News

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Peter C. Klanowski, Fax +49-451-5820055, pck@LyNet.De

This issue is sponsored by TELE-satellite, Europe's Satellite Magazine 
Have a look at their homepage! >> http://www.TELE-satellit.com/ <<


Once again, here's one of those Sunday issues -- a round-up of news that
didn't make it to last week's Sat-NDs in addition to some new material. 


=========================================================

BT goes West, then East
British Telecom will, as expected, merge with U.S. telecommunications
company MCI Communications (Sat-ND, 1.11.96.) The US$20 billion deal, which
was officially announced today, will create a new company called Concert
Plc. BT officials, however, already seem to plan the next step now that
they have gained a certain critical mass.
BT's ambitions in the growing Asian market are no secret, and analysts
guess Japan's NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone) will be the first
target. Back in May, BT called off a proposed merger with one of its
domestic rivals, Cable and Wireless, which already is doing some
telecommunications business in Hong Kong, Japan and Australia.
BT's deal with MCI is subject to both American and British regulatory
approval. Observers expect no real difficulties, though. 

premiere's three problems
The decoder war is over in Germany. There's only one digital TV service so
far, so there's no need for other decoders that those of Leo Kirch's DF1.
That may change when premiere, the country's only pay-TV channel,
officially switches to digital. So far, it has been distributed in analogue
mode, attracting just 1.3 million subscribers. (Just compare that to Canal+
and its more than 5 million subscribers in France. Unlike Canal+, premiere
is not distributed via terrestrial transmitters, though.)
premiere has three problems. They're Leo Kirch, Canal+ and Bertelsmann, in
other words: the three company shareholders. Bertelsmann and Canal+ each
hold a 37.5 percent stake in Premiere, while Kirch has 25 percent.
The latest climax in the ongoing fight over the channel's future was
reached last week when Bertelsmann and Canal+ filed a DM35 million (U$23
million) lawsuit against KirchGroup. Both claim Kirch was undermining the
channel's prospects by offering premium-movie channels within his digital
package DF1. 
Interestingly, the former alliance between Bertelsmann and Canal+ still
seems to work as far as premiere is concerned. Canal+ left this alliance
earlier this year by announcing its merger with NetHold, a
Netherlands-based pay-TV company that actually has many links with Leo
Kirch's activities.

Cheap, isn't it?
Wonderful World of pay per view. Digital receivers get cheaper and cheaper
in the USA, the rest of the world will undoubtedly follow. Basic cable or
Direct Broadcast Satellite packages are available at subscription rates
that aren't really cheap but will allow sufficient customers to subscribe.
But then, there's pay per view (PPV.)  Of course, you will be able to watch
special events, but you will also have to pay just as much as if you went
there in person.
Take for instance the boxing match between Mike Tyson and Evander
Holyfield, which is scheduled for November 9. U.S. cable company
Cablevision Systems has announced its PPV customers will have to pay
US$9.95. No, not for the whole fight -- for each round. At least, customers
won't have to pay more that US$49.95, no matter how long the fight
eventually lasts. On the other hand, services such as Echostar's Dish
Network offer the same event for US$10 less, but customers will have to pay
that price regardless of the fight's duration.

Intelsat hooks Ghana to the Internet
West African state Ghana will connect to the Internet via an INTELSAT
satellite. The country's main Internet access provider, Network Computer
Systems Ltd (NCS), has installed an Intelsat satellite earth station
providing an Internet gateway for its 500 subscribers. "With the new earth
station we can connect up to 10,000 subscribers," said engineering manager
Mike Baidoo. Internet traffic so far was routed via Ghana Telecom's earth
station near the country's capital Accra.
There's another active Internet Access provider in Ghana, Electromod in
Accra. Three more have been granted licenses to start operations.
NCS: http://mantse.ncs.com.gh/
Republic of Ghana: http://mantse.ncs.com.gh/republic/index.html
Where is Ghana, anyway? http://mantse.ncs.com.gh/republic/gh_map.html
Internet Providers in Ghana: http://www.nsrc.org/AFRICA/GH/country.html

Viva books Hot Bird 5 capacity
German music channel Viva and the broadcasting division of Dutch PTT
Telecom have signed a contract that secures Viva's analogue satellite
distribution far into the next decade. The channel will stay on EUTELSAT
II-F1 (13E) until 1998 when the satellite will be replaced by Hot Bird 5.
Viva will then use capacity on the new spacecraft, which offers more
powerful transponders and an extended footprint.

Olivetti launches European Internet service via satellite
EUTELSAT has officially announced that an Internet service by Hughes
Olivetti Telecom (HOT) was launched on transponder 34a of EUTELSAT II-F3
(16E.) It is initially aimed at business customers but will also be
offered to individuals next year. The service offers a transmission rate of
up to 400 kbps.
Internet users will not be able to access the satellite directly, however.
They still have to connect to the Internet via modem or ISDN to request Web
pages, files, etc. The requested data will then be delivered to the
customer's computer via satellite. It depends on many other factors how
fast transmissions will be in reality.
Another service called HOTstar offers business communication (which in
contrast works in both directions) using Very Small Aperture Terminals
(VSATs.) It is located on a transponder on EUTELSAT II-F4M's (7E) extended
widebeam.
(Thanks to Holger Zeissler for sending me the Eutelsat press releases.
Visit his gorgeous home page at http://www.sat-net.com/sat-ger/ in case you
speak German.) 


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

Wanted: Rupert Murdoch
Israeli authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of Rupert Murdoch
following an investigation against his company News Datacom Ltd.
(Jerusalem.) "The company is suspected of concealing income in the years
1989-1996 of some 150 million dollars," the tax authority earlier said in a
statement (Sat-ND, 20.10.96.) News Datacom is not only suspected to have
defrauded the country of taxes worth US$92 million but also to have been
involved in a " fraudulent transfer of satellite technology and software to
the UK." News Datacom Ltd. is the supplier of the well-know Videocrypt and
other encryption technologies for Mr Murdoch's UK-based News Datacom.
The warrant, which was issued by Israel's Supreme Court of Justice, will
certainly keep Mr Murdoch from visiting Israel for a while. It will
probably disturb him more that he may have to cancel some dates in the USA
as well. Israeli papers speculated that under existing extradition treaties
the country's authorities could apply for the warrant to be executed in the
USA as well.
Israel is not the first country that wants to put Mr Murdoch behind bars.
Last July, a Bombay magistrate ordered his arrest following a complaint
about a talk show aired on Mr Murdoch's Hong-Kong based Asian television
network, Star TV.


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

Altavista v/s Altavista
I won't tell you which search engine I consider the best one on the World
Wide Web, but Altavista by Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) certainly isn't
the worst. When it comes to business, it doesn't perform that well -- not
only because it does not accept any advertising.
The name " Altavista " was bought by DEC in March 1996 from a
California-based software company by the name of Altavista Technologies,
Inc. (ATI.) It wasn't exactly a clever move by DEC to grant ATI the right
to continue using the name " Altavista " as part of its official company
name and as its Internet address, which happens to be
http://www.altavista.com/ since February 1995.
ATI's site has changed dramatically since DEC introduced its search engine
at http://www.altavista.digital.com/. In fact, it has become an attempt to
exploit the popular search engine for ATI's own commercial purposes.
Besides showing a form that interfaces with DEC's Altavista search engine,
it also offers advertising.
According to the Wall Street Journal, advertisers didn't know that the ATI
site wasn't the real home page for the popular search engine and weren't
even told so by ATI.
Now, DEC has sued ATI for trademark infringement and breach of contract in
Massachusetts District Court. DEC claims that through design and wording of
its Web page, ATI is intentionally misleading advertisers and consumers.

New Jersey criminals get dedicated Web page
Criminals that have done their sentence and are going to be released from
jail should get a fair chance to start a new life, right? Not everybody
seems to think so. 
The U.S. state New Jersey publishes the names of convicts coming up for
parole (release from prison) on the World Wide Web, and even Civil Rights
activists don't really know what to do about it. The information is public
after all, and it doesn't include addresses or any other personal
information except for the convicts' names.
Officially, this bizarre WWW service replaces an expensive mechanism
required by law. The state "Parole Board" is obliged to notify the public
of convicts eligible for parole. So far, they have done so by means of
costly mailings to judges, prosecutors, victims and the media. Bob Egles,
executive director of the board, pointed out that putting the lists on the
WWW involves "virtually no cost and we're getting the maximum public
exposure."
So far, no other U.S. state (or any other country in the world) is known to
maintain a similar "service".
http://www.state.nj.us/parole/
[By the way a nice example for the rarely used us domain. Yes, folks, it
exists! See RFC 1386 and 1480 for the gory details.]


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

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