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Sat-ND, 12.12.9




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

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USA 2, Russia 1
Finally, here are at least some details on the Russian KOSMOS 2335 that was
launched yesterday (Sat-ND, 11.12.96.) According to Itar-Tass, "the
launching was performed at the Russian Defence Ministry's request." In
other words: it is a spy satellite. But not only that, it seems to be the
long-awaited replacement for KOSMOS 2320, Russia's last state-of-the-art
reconnaissance spacecraft that was lost in September (Sat-ND, 16.11.96.) At
least, that's what a duty officer at the Russian space military forces told
Associated Press. Strangely enough, the Russian daily Izvestia earlier said
there was no chance of an early replacement and that Russia was now
considering leasing a satellite from China.
Whatever bird is up there, Itar-Tass reported that its on-board equipment
was "operating in a regular mode, according to experts monitoring the
flight from Earth."

Organisational problems?
Russia's Khrunichev State Space Centre has postponed the December launches
of TCI's geostationary TEMPO satellite and Motorola's IRIDIUM satellites. A
spokesman pointed out that the expected delay of two to three months was in
no way connected to the MARS 96 disaster. Instead, the new schedule was
requested by their the clients owing to "organisational problems."
The satellites will be lifted into orbit with the Proton launcher
manufactured by Khrunichev Centre, the same rocket that carried the
ill-fated space probe. However, it was not the Proton that failed back in
November but the so-called "fourth stage," an acceleration unit that was
part of the payload (and not of the Proton rocket.) It is not used in
commercial launches, so there's no need for any international customer to
back off as the Proton is one of the most reliable rockets in the world.
Nonetheless, Russia's Space Military Forces, which carry out all unmanned
launches, have halted the use of Proton rockets until a State Commission
presents its conclusions from the MARS 96 failure. As the commission has
presented nothing so far, the TEMPO and IRIDIUM launches would have been
postponed anyway. 
Reportedly, the failure of the "fourth stage" may have been caused by
frequent power outages during on-ground testing in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
Not really a new situation, though -- the same happened last September
shortly before an INMARSAT launch (Sat-ND, 10.9.96.)

ORION 2 announced
Orion Network Systems announced it had selected Hughes Space and
Communications International, Inc. to construct and launch Orion's first
Asia Pacific regional satellite. Additionally, a US$89 million agreement
with DACOM, a major Korean telecommunications carrier was announced,
providing satellite communications capacity to serve the Korean peninsula.
Construction of the large capacity satellite, which is expected to be
operational by the fourth quarter of 1998, will begin immediately. It will
provide Orion with an instant infrastructure capable of offering
communications services to users in all major Asia Pacific markets,
including Korea, China, India, Japan and Australia, as well as other Asian
markets and Hawaii.
Orion's Asia Pacific satellite, to be positioned at 139E, will be a
high-power, high capacity, hybrid satellite using today's two primary
transmission frequencies -- C-band and Ku-band. Ten C-band transponders
with a minimum of 34 dBW (greater than 38 dBW in enhanced regions) will
provide broad distribution services, particularly to television and other
program distributors. There will be 33 Ku-band transponders, operating on
three high-power beams of greater than 50 dBW. The Ku-band transponders
will be used primarily for private business network applications and
direct-to-home (DTH) video services. Eight of them will be used by DACOM
according to the agreement announced today. 
The new satellite is the second in a series of three Orion satellites
capable of providing global communications services to over 75 percent of
the world's population, with emphasis on areas where communications
infrastructure is relatively underdeveloped. ORION 1 has been operational
since January 1995, and serves Europe, the United States to the Rocky
Mountains and portions of Canada and Mexico. A third satellite, expected to
be announced soon, will also be located over the Atlantic Ocean, and will
expand Orion's services into South America, Russia and the Middle East.

Kvaerner launches Sea Launch control ship
It may still sound like a joke, but the unlikely venture of launching
satellites from a sea-going platform is moving ahead. The Norwegian company
Kvaerner today launched the so-called command ship that will not only
control satellite launchings from the Pacific Ocean but also serve as a
floating assembling factory. Besides, the 720 m (650 ft) long vessel will
accommodate up to 250 crew members, customers and VIPs.
Kvaerner is still working at the second part of the Sea Launch system, the
platform that will be used to actually to launch the rockets from. Instead
of constructing a new one from scratch, Kvaerner will convert the remains
of an ill-fated drilling rig that went ablaze back in 1988.
Sea Launch is a joint venture between U.S. Aerospace giant Boeing, Norway's
Kvaevner Industries and Russia's rocket manufacturer Energija.

VH-1 on ASTRA 1B
VH-1 Germany has announced it will be available on ASTRA 1B as from January
1, 1997. Those "professionals" at VH-1 unfortunately didn't give any
details in their press release apart from the fact that the channel will be
available only from 20:00 to 24:00 local time. That probably means it will
use the same channel (11.612 GHz h) as Nickelodeon Germany that broadcasts
from 6:00 through 20:00. Both channels are, of course, run by Viacom Inc.
It is also unclear whether VH-1 will be transmitted unscrambled although
anything else wouldn't make sense.
VH-1 Germany is available in a few German cable networks so far, reaching
some 7 million of the country's 32+ million TV households. In addition, a
few thousands subscribers of Leo Kirch's digital TV bouquet DF1 get VH-1,
too. 


RupertWatch
By Dr Sarmaz <DrSarmaz@aol.com>

BSkyB promises non-discriminatory access to digital TV
BSkyB deputy managing director David Chance told the Commons National
Heritage Committee that the satellite broadcaster will not use its digital
TV system to hamper other companies. Instead, BSkyB would provide access to
their satellite and subscriber management systems on a "fair, reasonable
and non-discriminatory basis." It was their interest to get as much
programming as possible on their new 200-channel digital satellite system.
The BBC as well as ITV have expressed serious doubts. ITV Association
director Barry Cox pointed out that "We don't want the current situation
that exists in analogue to persist in digital." The current situation "in
analogue" means that any pay-TV channel has to submit to whatever Mr
Murdoch's News Datacom demands from them. Cox said that broadcasters
"should be able to issue their own smart cards themselves and not have to
rely on BSkyB to do it."
Anyway, it will take some time before digital TV hits the UK. The set-top
box would be on the market within ten months "if we pressed the button
today," said BSkyB's Mr Chance, thus indicating that indeed nobody has
pressed the button yet.
Before any buttons get pushed, BSkyB has to find some more allies that are
willing to subsidise the set-top box that will retail at around 200
although the manufacturing cost is estimated at some 350.
Meanwhile, British MPs have warned against some side-effects of digital TV.
"There will be a Nutcase Channel as well as a fishing channel or whatever,"
Labour MP Joe Ashton told a National Heritage Committee investigation on
the BBC and the future of broadcasting. "All of the industry better come up
with some proposals very soon, or Parliament will have to step in if you
don't do it, we will have to do it." 
The public doesn't necessarily think so. ITV chairman Leslie Hill said "We
have tightened up on what we now show by editing American films" he found
quite shocking when seeing them uncut. "The public actually likes to watch
a large number of violent things on television, and we have often had more
complaints about what we have cut than what we have left in."

Love, not war?
And now, just to confuse you, here's finally something about sex on TV. An
American study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Children Now found that
three out of four family hour shows on the four U.S. major networks contain
some sexual content.
Oops! More than 43 percent of parents surveyed say they worry 'a great
deal' about how much sex their children see on television. (Unfortunately,
the survey didn't say anything about unsolicited violence on TV that
undoubtedly comes along much more explicitly and, in my humble opinion, is
more harmful.)
The survey has caused quite a stir in the U.S. mainstream media, as I can
tell from here. 
In the focus groups, most children ages 8 to 10 understood a joke in CBS'
comedy "The Nanny" about the title character losing her "Virgin ...
airlines ticket." [Oh Gawd... how funny.] Youngsters also understood a
reference to whipped cream in NBC's "The Jeff Foxworthy Show" to be about a
man intending to "squirt whipped cream all over (his wife) and lick it
off." [What's wrong with whipped cream?]
The survey did not explain, however, _why_ children were able to decode
those messages that are undoubtedly targeted at an adult audience. It
didn't explain, either, whether it was good or bad that kids were exposed
to some ten thousands of fictional murders on U.S. TV while growing up.


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

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