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Sat-ND, 1.1.97




Sat-ND 97-01-01 - Satellite and Media News

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HBO BOOKS AMOS 1
There's a new customer for the Israeli satellite AMOS 1 (4W, I think.) Two of
the spacecraft's transponders work on the so-called Central European beam that
covers Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. 
Home Box Office (HBO,) the world's largest pay-TV company, has leased one of
those transponders for a five-year period, with an option for an additional
five years. From March 1997, HBO will broadcast six digital channels to
hundreds of HBO cable centres within the reach of the satellite's Central
European beam. 
The Israeli company SpaceCom, which markets the Amos communications satellite,
said competitors for the HBO contract included Deutsche Telekom AG (DFS) and
General Electric (SIRIUS 2; Sat-ND, 14.9.96.)


FRANCE TELECOM GOES PRIVATE
As from today, France Telecom is a commercial company -- but still state-owned.
The French telecommunications provider became France Telecom S. A., a limited
liability company with an equity composed of one billion shares with an initial
value of 25 francs (US$4.76) per share. 
All shares are owned by the French state, though. French government ministers
have said they intend to sell a stake of around 20 percent of the company in
1997, possibly as soon as April. 
The move is just a part of telecommunications deregulation in Europe. Last
November, Germany's Deutsche Telekom made a major public offering of shares.
The next aspirant for privatisation is Italy's state-controlled Telecom Italia.


CARLTON EYES DIGITAL LICENSE
Carlton Communications Plc. may bid for licenses to operate terrestrial digital
television in Britain, London-based newspaper The Independent reported
yesterday. Carlton has joined forces with U.S. cable operator CableTel, which
also operates in the UK. Both are reportedly looking for further partners, and
it seems as if U.S. cable giant TCI's subsidiary Flextech Plc. is a likely
candidate. Although the negotiations are said to be in an early stage, they
could nevertheless have further implications. Flextech is believed to have
reserved the right to offer the BBC's planned digital package (Sat-ND, 5.11.96)
for broadcast on other platforms. Any deal might include Flextech's joint
venture channels with the BBC becoming exclusive to Carlton or to CableTel.
Carlton, Britain's biggest commercial terrestrial broadcaster, announced
earlier that it also planned further expansion into cable and satellite
broadcasting.


CHINESE SPACE FLAG HOISTED
It was a special day today for Lin Huarong, a satellite engineer working for
China Aerospace Corporation. At 7:36 local time this morning, more than 50,000
people throughout China came to Beijing's Tian'anmen Square to watch the
national flag-hoisting ceremony. As reported earlier (Sat-ND, 14.11.96,) it was
a very special red flag that went up the pole today.
"I felt very excited and proud because this is the first time our flag has been
sent into space by our own retrievable satellite," Lin Huarong told China's
news agency Xinhua. 
"I've seen flag-raising ceremonies a number of times, but this one is special
because it is symbolic of our great achievements in space technology," the
agency quoted Niu Zhuo, a Beijing high school student. After the ceremony, the
flag was given to the Museum of Chinese History.
[Maybe it is a historic piece, being one of the few items that survived a
Chinese rocket launch. Last year, China was mentioned in 78 editions of Sat-ND,
but I'm afraid not so much for its great achievements bur rather for its
spectacular launch failures. -- Ed.]


WHAT CHILDREN WATCH BEFORE THEY GO TO SLEEP
There's a lot of moaning and groaning about children accessing the Internet. Of
course, minors should be protected from all the bad things that are out there.
The problem, however, isn't that there are nasty things on the Internet.
The real problem is that parents are either too lazy or too irresponsible to
care. Many of them have even given up controlling their offspring's television
habits by buying them TV sets of their own. And, yes, there are a lot of nasty
things on TV, too -- not only those controversial hard liquor commercials.
A report by Statistical Research, Inc., shows that about 20 percent of _all_ TV
sets in the United States are located in the bedrooms of children or teenagers.
Statistical Research's "Television Ownership Survey" comes up with some more
appalling numbers. It may be no surprise that there are child bedroom TV sets
in 53 percents of U.S. households with at least one teenager. It may be cause
for concern that the rate still is 34 percent for children under twelve. But it
is simply irresponsible that almost a quarter (24 percent) of those under six
(yes, six) years of age have a TV set in their bedroom which in effect means
that they can watch anything without parental control.
Ironically, parents become increasingly disgusted with violence in movies and
on TV at the same time. Three-quarters of American parents had walked out of a
cinema or turned off a TV show because of violent content, says the survey
"Violence in America," which was published the American Medical Association. 
According to this study, 68 percents of those asked want a stronger, more
effective movie rating system, while 81 percent want a rating system for TV
shows and computer games. 72 percent event demand a rating system for music.
Just for a change: how 'bout taking up some responsibility for your children
yourself?


NEW U.S. TV RATING SYSTEM
A controversial new rating system, which is supported by the major networks
ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, came into effect today in the USA. There are six
categories:
* TV-Y -- Children of all ages
* TV-Y7 -- Children seven and older
* TV-G -- Suitable for all ages
* TV-PG -- Parental guidance suggested
* TV-14 -- Parents of children under 14 strongly cautioned
* TV-M -- Mature audiences only
Ratings will be displayed briefly as a small icon in the upper-left corner of
the TV screen at the start of a show. Newspapers, TV Guide and cable
publications are expected to publish them, too. The system was developed by the
TV industry and has yet sparked much criticism.
Networks and producers will rate their own shows, unlike the movie industry,
where an independent panel issues ratings. What's more, the TV industry has
vowed to fight any government-imposed plan in court on First Amendment grounds.
The new system is closely connected to the introduction of the so-called V-chip
as laid down by the Communications Decency Act enacted last February. The
V-chip technology, expected to be available in one year's time, will (in
theory) enable parents to block certain shows on the basis of those ratings.
In addition, "E/I" symbols denoting educational/informational programs will
begin showing up tomorrow as required under new federal children's TV rules.
Starting next September, TV stations will be required to air at least three
hours of educational shows each week.
As required by law, stations must comply with the children's TV rules as a
condition for license renewal. Violators can be fined and, should a repeated
pattern of abuse occur, even lose their licenses.


THE TELEPHONE NUMBER MYSTERY
German pubcasters ARD and ZDF launched a yet unnamed children's channel today,
utilising the outlets of Franco-German cultural channel arte during the
daytime. The arte transponder on ASTRA so far had been subleased to Viacom's
commercial channel Nickelodeon. 
Broadcasting from the Thuringian capital Erfurt, the new kids' channel is on
air eleven hours per day offering mainly archive material but also a few
original productions of its own. Three German federal states, among them the
two most populous (Northrhine-Westphalia and Bavaria,) so far haven't allocated
capacity on their respective cable systems for the channel. 
A spokeswoman for the channel reported that many children from these states
called in today and complained about the channel's absence from cable networks.
She did not elaborate on how those children got knowledge of the channel and
its telephone number.


RADIO 538 LIVE ON THE INTERNET
Radio 538 is now also broadcasting on the Internet, 24 hours a day. R538 uses
Realaudio [Version 3.0 required -- Ed.] and transmits its regular programme,
but Radio 538 is going to introduce more features, including interactive
programmes. (Jitse Groen)
http://www.radio538.com/audio.html


ZEROES AND ONES
By Grandpa "Hiccups" Zheng

An "International Ad Hoc Committee" (IAHC) has invited the Internet community
to make suggestions on seven new top-level domains to be introduced. "They will
consist of strings of three to five letters each, that will have general
contextual meaning suggesting a connection with the Internet, with business, or
with personal uses," the IAHC said.
Okay, great! Here are my suggestions, and I don't apologise for having more
than seven extraordinarily brilliant ideas.
*.zheng (for those "personal uses" mentioned)
*.spam (for all that unsolicited advertising stuff)
*.mmf (Make Money Fast)
*.irw (It Really Works!)
*.fagns (Found A Great New Site)
*.metoo (self-explanatory)
*.oops (for all those home pages set up by members of online services such as
CSI, AOL and T-Online. Alternatively: .sorry, .eek)
*.ouch (S/M sites)
*.nasa (with so many sites online, they have deserved a domain of their own)
*.gates (same applies to Microsoft, of course. Alternatively: .bill)
*.pubic (for public services. Don't blame me when they only allow five letters
instead of six!)
*.macca (Will Sir Paul finally set up his own Web site?)
*.hype (for sites hinging on Java, Network Computers, and such)
*.dmcd (Digital Mad Cow Disease, for sites related to digital TV.
Alternatively: .moo)
*.china (for all that censored stuff from all over the world; German officials
will quite happily join this domain and ban all others, unless they decide to
make up their own .germ domain)
*.pussy (for all those sites devoted to cats and nothing else)
*.kurt (for all that sites with pictures of Kurt Cobain's blown-out brains)
*.vomit (for all those sites that offer even more bizarre stuff)
*.foul (dirty talk, or maybe football [soccer] clubs);
*.hack (for sites that invite you to interactively change their content, e.g.
CIA and U.S. Air Force; FTP passwords will of course be provided)
*.adhoc (for further changes to the top-level domain name system)
Besides, I would strongly suggest to refrain from establishing top-level
domains such as .shit, .crap, .cock (adult male bird of the domestic fowl,)
.dick (all the Richards in the world wouldn't justify such a top level domain,)
 .stuff, .stiff, .cum (a preposition that is used to link two nouns,) .cunt (an
unpleasant person,) .xmas and whatever four or five-letter words I can think
of. Just to keep the Internet clean, y'know. Some may find these words
ambiguous even though they are pretty harmless (all explanations were taken
from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.) 
For the time being, have a look at this:
http://www.iahc.org/


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Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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