Sat-ND,, 25.11.96

Sat-ND 96-11-25 - Satellite and Media News

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Sorry... This issue contains mainly articles that aren't too new but so far
haven't appeared in Sat-ND anyway. -- PC


Iranian satellite police out again
Iran has once again launched a crackdown on satellite dishes which have
been banned since April 1995. Reportedly, police seized a number of
antennas in Tehran while other owners of such equipment removed them as a
precaution. In other areas of the country, dish agents went from door to
door asking people whether they has satellite TV.
Observers said the new crackdown could be connected to a regular VOA
television programme that features expatriate Iranian artists and even give
legal advice on how to leave the country. In addition, VOA radio broadcasts
from Kuwait have been jammed on medium wave for months.

Mad cows in bad weather
A lot of Dutch TV screens turned black during the last few days. Many cable
companies proved incapable of receiving some digital feeds during heavy
clouds and/or snow. Channels like RTL-5 and TMF-9 were affected most. TMF
is the system with the most disturbances even during normal weather, with
sound and picture failing to come through sometimes. These problems could
turn out an enormous setback for digital television if even the strong
ASTRA signals show such obvious problems. It remains to be seen what
happens when the weather really gets bad. 
(Jitse Groen)

Multithematically mad cows
multiThèmatiques (mTh), a digital TV venture set up by France's Canal+,
Générale des Eaux and TCI International, a unit of U.S. cable giant TCI,
will launch its long-awaited German six-channel package (Sat-ND, 9.9.96) in
March 1997. The company has announced it will use Leo Kirch's DF1 as
distribution platform. 
This comes as no surprise as there currently is no other platform they
could use in Germany. However, observers noted the alliance between Canal+
and Leo Kirch might also bring Germany's one and only analogue pay-TV
channel back on track. Its shareholders Bertelsmann, Kirch and Canal+ are
involved in several judicial battles over the channel's digital future.
The agreement is also good news for Leo Kirch whose DF1 won't be able to
offer a full range of channels on cable networks owing to capacity
bottlenecks. mTh, on the other hand, was granted a separate nation-wide
channel for its bouquet.
mTh, which mainly offers localised versions of niche channels developed
Canal+'s Canalsatellite bouquet, will also launch four channels for the
Italian market in January (probably just as soon as Hot Bird 12 at 13E
becomes operational.) They will probably be part of the Telepiù package
where Leo Kirch holds a 45 percent stake. In addition, mTh has clinched a
deal with some Polish cable networks to have its "Planet" channel
distributed to some 150,000 households.

TF1 won't stop Canal+/NetHold merger
French broadcaster TF1 has suffered a legal defeat. A court in Paris
refused issue an immediate injunction against the merger of pay-TV
companies Canal+/NetHold. 
"Both TF 1 and Canal+ hold stakes in pan-European broadcaster Eurosport.
TF1 wants at least the free-to-air sports channel be excluded from the
merger, claiming Canal+/Nethold would otherwise compete with the channel
through its own (albeit encrypted) sports programming." (Sat-ND, 28.10.96)

RTL 5 to be rechristened
RTL-5's new name will be RTL 5 Nieuws & Weer (News & Weather). This will
mean that it is going to compete with the existing Weerkanaal (Weather
Channel). RTL 5 has a clear advantage in this, because it can be received
everywhere, while Het Weerkanaal only has few viewers at the moment. There
are also rumours that Sport7 might merge with RTL-5 to create a powerful
Sport/News/Weather channel. This however, is not likely to happen, because
the Holland Media Groep (HMG) will not want to create an opponent that
large. Both RTL-5 and Sport7 have recently announced they will not ask for
a charge because 'the Dutch are not willing to pay for their TV as of yet'.
This of course in addition to the regular (low) cable fee.
(Jitse Groen)
[Well, there are rumours Sport7 could join forces with SBS6 as well. Pretty
much action going on there with all that numbered channels, eh? -- Ed.]

Re: Sat-ND 22.11.96 [Cheap digital decoders for free TV]
How do slots for smartcards -which aren't very costly but are needed to
receive subscribed channels -going to make these boxes any cheaper ??? What
a lot of readers want (& many consumers would like this if they only knew
the facts) is a box with more than one PCMCIA slot for the conditional
access modules so they could subscribe to more than one multiplex using
more than one encryption system (e.g. Irdeto **AND** MediaGuard). It would
also need to support the full DVB range of Symbol rates (i.e. 1-45 MSPS).
The D-Box/Nokia 9500 was close to this after the recent software "upgrade
?" (intentional question mark). It's a shame that they goofed - as pointed
out by Frank Kearney earlier [last] week- by locking out other multiplexes.
DF1 enabled the SCPC stuff (great for true DX-ers or surfers) but disabled
access to more than 1 multiplex even when paid for (a blow to the average
consumer as well as to the DX-er). I suggest people write to their Euro MP
& complain about the blatant lack of an open market.It makes more sense for
the EU to legislate on this matter in favour of the consumer rather than
arguing about common currency or the shape & contents of a "Euro-sausage"
(Chris Muriel)
[To answer your question first: Sorry if I wasn't precise enough. The
planned decoder is intended for viewing _freely_ distributed channels only,
making it possible to omit some of the internal electronics as well as the
conditional access module. In my view, that approach isn't too far off as
there are actually few European countries where pay-TV reaches only a
majority of the audience. (Most of them aren't DXers, either.) That won't
change just because distribution is switched from analogue to digital.
The other thing I would like to comment: It's by no means "a shame" that
digital TV packages apart from that offered by Mr Kirch can't be received
with his d-box. No, it's just the way this business works, the EU won't be
able to change it anyway, and customers better kept all that in mind. It
hasn't been any different with analogue pay-TV, has it? So why should
digital TV bring about any improvement? My prediction is that it will get
even worse instead as every single decoder is individually addressable. 
Anyway, nobody has ever given any guarantee concerning the reception of
other packages with the d-box or any other custom-tailored set-top box, and
I frequently pointed that out (cf. Sat-ND, 23.10.96) -- Ed.]

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

It's the mind
Some time ago I had to cope with a claim spread by French news agency AFP
saying that "One million pornographic images and 40 million Internet [Web]
pages are actually devoted to child pornography" (Sat-ND, 29.8.96.) This
report was revoked just one day later when AFP had noted it contained
"severe errors." Well, actually it was complete rubbish.
Nonetheless, the 1996 Grandpa Zheng prize for Internet illiteracy and
general brainlessness is hereby awarded to a certain Heinz Hilgers who
calls himself president of a German society ("Kinderschutzbund") that
claims to protect children from whatever evil there may be around.
Especially on the Internet, of course.
Heinz Hilgers has obviously been pretty busy during the last few centuries
counting World Wide Web pages that contain kiddie-porn. He found no less
than 60 to 80 million of them, up to twice as much as AFP. Congratulations!
This number undoubtedly constitutes a new kiddie-porn world record, or at
least a new sensational world record in stupidity as there are just some 30
to 40 million Web pages available at all.
It's just too funny that utter morons such as these were even presented
with DM25,000 (US$16.700) forwarded by a domestic insurance company to help
the fight against "child abuse on the Internet." Herr Hilgers might want to
use the money to pay his brain surgeon instead.

Too weird
The editor of this so-called newsletter today received an Email by Martyn
Williams. He passed it on to me noting that "this is just too weird for me.
Take it, Zheng." Okay, here it comes, although I have no idea what it means
"Craig Shergold is a 10-year-old boy who is dying of cancer. Before he
dies, he would like to set the world record for receiving the most
Neiman-Marcus cookie recipes. You can help Craig by sending an irate fax to
Lexis/Nexis demanding that they remove all traces of your mother's maiden
name from their executive washroom wall. They will respond by sending
e-mail labeled "Good Times" to the computer controlling Craig's life
support equipment. When Felipe Linz, the technician operating the computer
opens this mail, his hard drive will be overwritten with thousands of
credit card invoices for $250.00, erasing the last bit of evidence that
Hillary was seen on the grassy knoll when JFK was shot, thus allowing world
domination by Bill Gates and his Trilateral Commission cronies, who are
eating fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches in the black helicopters
with Elvis."
Er... yeah... I agree! Elvis who?

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

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