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Sat-ND, 4.12.96




Sat-ND 96-12-04 - Satellite and Media News

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

African broadcasters sign up with WorldSpace
U.S. company WorldSpace Inc. announced that more than ten African radio
stations have signed contracts to broadcast over its AFRISTAR radio
satellite. Among them are Radio Ghana, Voice of Kenya, Radio Nigeria, Radio
Zimbabwe and others. 
The names of the three planned satellites clearly indicate their respective
target areas: CARIBSTAR, AFRISTAR and ASIASTAR (Sat-ND, 18.3.96 and
2.7.96.) Equipped with three spotbeams each, they will cover only parts of
those regions, let alone the rest of the world, but they will nonetheless
reach 80 percent of the world's population.
In WorldSpace's target areas, short-wave still is an important factor in
delivering radio programmes to the audience, but it is expensive. Many
stations now hope to reduce their transmission costs by switching to
digital radio via satellite. Thomas Kashangaki, Director of Satellite
Systems for WorldSpace, said the stations could save as much as 70 percent
in comparison with conventional technology and would even get a noise and
interference-free signal to their listeners.
There's still a problem, though. Listeners would have to buy new radio sets
for as much as US$50 to 100 -- a price not likely to be accepted by
consumers in the developing world. The pricing is based on a consumer
demand of 1 to 2 million radio sets. World Space expects it to be higher,
though. Besides, there's still some time left to make the units cheaper -- 
the first satellite, AFRISTAR at 21E, is expected to become operational in
1999, at least half a year later than initially announced by WorldSpace.

Where's MARS 96?
Chile today demanded more information from Russia on where its ill-fated
Russian space probe MARS 96 actually crashed following a launch failure.
U.S. experts had indicated some parts of the spacecraft, which was carrying
radioactive plutonium, may not have plunged into the Pacific ocean but
actually come down over the Atacama desert in Northern Chile. There were
also reports of people observing parts of the probe burning up over the
Northern port of Antofagasta.
Said Chilean Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Insulza, "We agree that the
object re-entered the atmosphere on November 16 but there are important
disagreements as to where it fell. The problem is the Russians [...] have
not given any new details which would allow us to carry out a more precise
search."
The Russians may actually know not much more than what they have told the
Chilean government. As a matter of fact, it's quite unlikely that that were
able to pinpoint the actual site of the MARS 96 crash which, after all, is
pretty far away from Russia.
Anybody who wants to re-enact the MARS 96 crash can simply do so by
downloading a computer programme for satellite tracking such as STS Orbit.
The Keplerian Elements that are needed to compute the probe's trajectory
can be found at
http://flox.kiam1.rssi.ru/MARS/MARS96_5.HTM

Viacom buys 50 percent stake in UPN
There are those U.S. TV big networks that almost every TV viewer around the
world knows: ABC, CBS and NBC. Then there is Rupert Murdoch's Fox network,
and although being known for innovative programming it's not quite as big
yet. But that's not all. Two other ventures try to set up nation-wide TV
networks as well: WB and UPN.
Speaking of UPN: Viacom Inc., owner of channels such as MTV and VH-1, has
decided to use its option to buy a 50 percent stake in UPN from the
network's owner Chris-Craft Industries. 
"Since its launch, the United Paramount Network has exceeded our
expectations and delivered on its promise to bring original programming
that creates real value for its affiliate stations," said Viacom chairman
Sumner Redstone. Up to now, the network is on air from Sunday through
Wednesday with just six hours of original programming per week. Its
greatest success so far was "Star Trek: Voyager," produced by Viacom's unit
Paramount pictures.
UPN has 152 affiliates covering about 92 percent of U.S. television
households. According to study a recently published by the Centre for
Communication Policy at the University of California in Los Angeles, UPN
aired almost as many highly violent series as all the other networks
combined. The study also attacked UPN for actively promoting its violent
programming with the tag "Lethal Wednesday" for its bloodiest night of
programming.

Globalstar frequency spectrum cleared
Globalstar has received final approval from the U.S. Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) for its global 48-satellite telecommunications system. The
FCC's order allows Globalstar to use the frequency ranges 5.091 to 5.250
GHz for uplink, and 6.875 to 7.055 GHz for downlink.
The partnership led by Loral Space and Communications includes Qualcomm
Inc. from San Diego and non-American companies such as Alcatel,
Alenia-Spazio, Deutsche Aerospace, Hyundai, and others.
Through its low earth orbiting satellites (LEOs,) Globalstar plans to offer
telephone, provide data transmission, paging, facsimile, and position
location services on a global scale. The first satellite is due to be
launched in the second half of 1997, commercial services are expected to be
available a year later.

TCI Satellite targets restaurants and bars
TCI Satellite Entertainment Inc. still plans to launch two satellites to
expand the Primestar TV service. The company, which was recently spun off
from U.S. cable monolith TCI Inc., has a 21 percent interest in Primestar
and is expected top buy out some of its partners in this venture,
especially Time Warner.
Primestar so far served rural areas. Acting independently now, TCI
Satellite now is targeting urban and suburban markets as well. Marketing
surveys showed there are about 30 million households in densely populated
markets that haven't subscribed to cable so far. About half of these
residents would be interested in ''a la carte'' programming as offered by
TCI Satellite. The company, which so far serves about 735,000 households,
also plans to go after untapped markets by offering service to restaurants,
bars, apartment complexes and hotels.
The new satellite, the first of which is slated for launch next month, will
increase the channel capacity as well as allowing smaller dishes for
reception. The new high-powered direct-broadcast service could beam about
80 channels to a dish that is 13.5 inches (34cm) wide, smaller than the
18-inch (46cm) version sold by market leader DirecTV and any other dish on
the market.
However, Primestar is also reportedly looking for an agreement with
Echostar Corp. that was assigned the same orbital slot for a rivalling
direct broadcast satellite service (Sat-ND, 26.11.96.)


RupertWatch
By Dr Sarmaz <DrSarmaz@aol.com>

Clinton does Murdoch a favour
MCI and Rupert Murdoch will reportedly get the direct broadcast satellite
license they paid for, following an intervention by the U.S. government at
the Federal Communications Commission (FCC.) Mr. Murdoch's arch rival in
the U.S., Time Warner, had claimed the company wasn't eligible for the
license as it is about to be acquired by British Telecom. FCC rules bar
foreign companies from owning more than 25 percent of a licensee.
Reportedly, it was a letter from the Clinton administration that paved the
way to the final approval of the license that is expected soon. The FCC was
asked "to consider the administration's views on trade, foreign ownership
and related issues when the acquisition itself is considered." As an
unnamed government official put it, "They bid for this license, and no
one's going to tell them they can't have it." Yes folks, it's as simple as
that.


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

AOL overload
In case you're a non-U.S. AOL member, you may have wondered why you
couldn't access the online service during the last few days although the
connection to your local node seemed to be okay. The explanation is simple:
AOL has introduced a new billing scheme last Sunday that allows U.S.
customers to access the service at a flat rate. In other words, they pay
just US$19.95 per month and get unlimited access to AOL and the Internet. 
Of course, this does not apply to non-U.S. subscribers who still have to
pay much more -- as long as they're stupid enough to pay for it. On top on
this, they have to suffer from the new pricing plan as it has attracted
U.S. subscribers to access the service in previously unknown numbers.
Yesterday, AOL recorded eight million individual sign-on sessions although
the service has only seven million members.
So, now you know why you don't get connected. 

Radio station without license
I will not to comment on the closedown of Radio B 92 in Belgrade as
mainstream media all around the world have done so. According to Western
standards, by the way, the station would have been shut down a few years
ago as its license expired in 1990. The station applied for a frequency
afterwards but was never awarded a broadcasting license. That of course
happens to quite a few stations in Western countries as well.
Nonetheless, I received two URLs you might want to check. Hans Knot hinted
that there was an Internet page which gives an update on the ongoing
protests: 
http://www.galeb.aft.bg.ac.yu/protest96
And Jitse Groen told me that B 92 uses an XS4ALL account to continue
transmitting:
http://www.xs4all.nl/~opennet

Altavista launched European service
One of the best WWW searcher called Altavista
(http://www.altavista.digital.com/) is now offering services in 14
different European languages. Want to search pages in your own language? No
problem at all. Go to 
http://www.altavista.telia.com/
Select the language, and that's it.
Igor Uvodic (iuvodic@mds-uni.si)

Re: Sat-ND, 2.12.96 [Save money with IBM?]
There are *more* applications, both new and old, that run under OS/2 than
run under, e.g. Windows'95. That is an irrefutable *fact*. Admittedly there
are some applications that *will* only run under Lose'95, but these are few
and far between: even those that say "For Windows'95" will mostly run under
OS/2 too.
Don't knock OS/2 till you've tried it: with V4 (aka Merlin), one gets
Voicetype Dictation and even voice-operated web browsing. Moreover, it runs
the majority of Windows applications (save for the few that truly will only
run under Win'95) some three to four times faster, and with less expensive
memory demands usually.
Brian {Hamilton Kelly} bhk@dsl.co.uk
[Grandpa Zheng says: I bought OS/2 Warp 3.0. I could've flushed the money
down the toilet as well. What a progress, then! I'll be able to tell OS/2
4.0 to do that for me in spoken language.]


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

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