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Sat-ND, 2.1.97




Sat-ND 97-01-02 - Satellite and Media News

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EDITORIAL -- by The Editor
ZHENG CAPTURED, TAKEN TO LOONY BIN
Yesterday's Sat-ND didn't it make through to its subscribers. An independent
investigation panel was set up to locate the cause for this awful failure. I
will send the missing issue along with this one in an unaltered state just for
keeping authenticity. 
Please note that it contains a dreadfully silly contribution by that notorious
Grandpa Zheng who not only managed to get rid of his straitjacket but also
succeeded in smuggling some utterly lewd below-the-belt Internet jokes into
this utmost serious publication. Shudder! Just don't read it, will ya?
But now for the good news. That jerk was seized and taken to a guarded place
where he belongs. We now return you to our regularly scheduled programme which
by the way is pretty boring today, but I won't apologise for that.


LET'S GET REAL
US cable giant TCI has taken one of the industry's most colossal U-turns
recently. Under the pressure of a US$15 billion debt, the company decided to
drop the idea of becoming a multimedia powerhouse, instead concentrating on its
core business. 
"If you read our annual report last year, you'd think we're one-third data,
one-third telephone and one-third video entertainment, instead of 100% video
entertainment and two experiments," TCI boss John Malone said in an interview
published by The Wall Street Journal today. 
Telephone services via cable, all that Internet hype -- it didn't work for the
U.S.'s biggest cable company that faces some tough competition from Direct
Broadcasting Satellite services. So tough that TCI had to admit it was actually
loosing customers. Malone: "My job now is to prick the bubble. Let's get real."

Others will undoubtedly follow.


TV SPIN-OFFS RULE
Who's the big winner after all the recent mergers in the U.S. media industry
which, that's why we mention it so frequently, dominates foreign media as well?
It's not Walt Disney plus ABC, it's not Timer-Warner plus Turner Broadcasting.
According to industry analysts quoted in the Hollywood Reporter, the big winner
is a company that belongs to Viacom Inc. 
Paramount Pictures' cash flow might grow up to 27 percent in the fourth quarter
of 1996, supported above all by TV spin-offs such as the umpteenth Star Trek
movie and "Beavis and Butt-head," a feature-length movie based upon a cartoon
series shown on Viacom's world-wide MTV music channels.


CANADIAN DIGITAL TV, TAKE 107
Of course, it's not a major twist to our running gag "Will there ever be
digital TV in Canada?" But anyway, Tee-Comm Electronics Inc. announced today
that it has been awarded a Can$250,000 matching grant from the National
Research Council of Canada's (NRC) Industrial Research Assistance Program.
What for? I hear you ask. The grant will match Tee-Comm's investment in the
development of a second-generation software platform for the made-in-Canada
ST-1000 home satellite receiver -- commonly referred to as the "set-top box"
component of a digital direct-to-home (DTH) satellite television system.
The new ST-1000 product will be designed to be a "universal" platform capable
of supporting both Tee-Comm's technology, and the technologies of other
distribution services, including digital cable, digital local multipoint
communications systems (LMCS), and digital multipoint microwave distribution
systems (MMDS).
"This grant will allow Tee-Comm to continue to produce leading-edge, Canadian
technology that will be used all over the world," said Frank Svatousek,
Manager, Strategic Planning, Tee-Comm Electronics.


GUANGXI ZHUANG ON ASIASAT 2
Although individual satellite dishes are still officially banned in China,
there are more than ten regional TV stations available on satellite. There will
be one more soon as the Chinese Ministry of Radio, Film and Television has
granted "The People's Radio Station and the TV Station of the Guangxi Zhuang
Autonomous Region" a license to carry their programmes on ASIASAT 2 (100.6E)
for 18 hours per day.
The station's satellite output seems to be mainly targeted at foreign
countries. As China's news agency Xinhua pointed out, ASIASAT 2 reaches more
than 30 countries and regions in south and south-east Asia as well as
Australia. The autonomous region Guangxi in south-west China is regarded a
business gateway to south-east Asian countries.


LEIPZIG'S HOTTEST RADIO CHANNEL
Many radio stations try to offer their listeners hot programming. Things became
a bit too hot in a local studio of Radio Energy in Leipzig today, though.
Following a fire that caused substantial damage, the station had to close down.
The Leipzig outlet will take over programming from its counterpart in Dresden
for the time being. Nobody was hurt -- the presenter could escape through a
window of the studio that is located on the ground floor. The damage is
estimated at around DM100,000 (US$65,000.)


RUPERTWATCH -- by Dr Sarmaz
KIRCH BUYS DSF SHARE -- FOR RUPERT?
German media magnate Leo Kirch has taken over a 24.9 percent stake in sports
channel DSF from publishing house Axel Springer Verlag (ASV.) Kirch, through
his Taurus Vermögensverwaltung GmbH, is now the channel's largest shareholder
with a total stake of 49.4 percent. Two of his closest allies, Silvio
Berlusconi (Italy) and Ringier AG (Switzerland,) hold 33.5 and 17.1 percent
respectively. 
This may change as Kirch's latest ally, Rupert Murdoch, has expressed his
intention to take over a 25 percent stake in DSF. The channel is closely
co-operating with the ailing digital TV service DF1 owned by Messrs Kirch and
Murdoch. DSF's offering of specialist sports channels on DF1 will be further
expanded. Details are expected to be presented to the public at the end of this
month.
ASV officials said they would concentrate their TV efforts on free-to-air
channel SAT.1 where the company controls a 40 percent stake. 
SAT.1, by the way, had a bad year last year: it came in fourth in overall
market shares. Even public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, considered old-fashioned
and boring by many, made a better showing.


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

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