Sat-ND, 5.7.97

Sat-ND 97-01-05 - Magazine for the friends of the French language and the Italian opera

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A pretty confusing story was carried on the Chinese news agency Xinhua today. It said that Thailand was to "allow a U.S. satellite in orbit over its territory" if the country's military was allowed to use part of the spacecraft's capacity.
Thailand's Prime Minister and defence minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh made the proposal last November when he met U.S. president William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton. Washington's decision is expected for mid-January. Should the United States agree, NASA officials will come to Thailand to work out the details.
[The proposed deal may be connected to Thailand's plans for an indigenous spy satellite. The project still seems on hold even though the Prime minister recently told the military his austerity policy would not apply to them (Sat-ND, 27.12.96.) Should anybody ask me what to make of that all, the reply is "I dunno." -- Ed.]

TCI Satellite Entertainment, Inc. (TSAT,) TCI's recently spun-off satellite venture, has completed a senior secured bank financing arrangement underwritten by The Bank of Nova Scotia, Credit Lyonnais, and NationsBank. TSAT can now borrow up to US$350 million under the facility with commitments increasing to US$750 million upon compliance with certain covenants and events. The company's press release did not elaborate on those events.
Proceeds from the financing will be used to repay US$250 million of debt to TCI. It will also provide capital to fund future growth of TSAT's medium and high power satellite business. The Company's assets and operations include a 20.86 percent interest in PRIMESTAR Partners, L.P., its business known as PRIMESTAR By TCI which markets and distributes PRIMESTAR equipment and programming, and Tempo Satellite, Inc., which holds its high power satellite interests.
"This is a pioneering effort for the DBS industry and we are very pleased with the response from the financial community," said Gary Howard, President and CEO of TSAT. "This facility increases TSAT's liquidity, providing us with the flexibility necessary to continue our exciting growth in the satellite industry."

How can an "independent" TV station, backed by international funding of millions of dollars, simply be forced off air by a satellite failure?
It happened in Bosnia, where foreign countries had the idea of overcoming the country's ethnic divisions by setting up an "independent" TV station called TVIN (Sat-ND, 9.9.96.)
It hasn't worked. The station went off-air on New Year's Day, claiming problems with its satellite uplink as the reason for its shutdown.
Following that, state-controlled media in Bosnia discovered the so-far unknown joy of investigative journalism. The Sarajevo newspaper Dnevni Avaz published a detailed account of equipment obtained to upgrade TVIN's participating local stations. According to the paper, the equipment could have been bought for half the US$408,000 spent. Bosnia's state television in addition said that local stations that contributed to TVIN were cheated on the amount of equipment they were supposed to receive through international funding.
Most of TVIN's contributing stations are located in Moslem-controlled areas of Bosnia's Moslem-Croat federation. Nationalist Serb and Croat TV stations have refused to join with the exception of Banja Luka studio in Bosnia's Serb republic.

Turkish satellite viewers can never be too sure whether they will be able to watch their favourite channel the next day. It's not a technical problem, though. The satellite that is mainly used for distributing the commercial programmes, TÜRKSAT 1C (42E,) works fine. But so does RTÜK, Turkey's state-run Television control authority.
Whenever RTÜK finds something objectionable in any programme, the offending channel usually gets punished by being taken off the air for one day. And that happens quite frequently. For instance, Kanal D was given the one-day sentence 13 times last year.
It probably won't be different in 1997. Today, ATV had its first day off because it had aired a report on an assault on youngsters by local security authorities in the western part of Turkey. Next Wednesday, ATV staff may stay at home again. This time, the channel will be punished for indecency displayed in a series that seems to feature the adventures of two (female) prostitutes.
According to press reports, RTÜK was disturbed by the fact that the prostitutes' pimp was portrayed as homosexual. That was not only disturbing social peace but also an attack on traditional Turkish family structures.
Next Friday, Kanal D will be off-air once again. Commenting a summit meeting of political parties in Ankara, Kanal D's political magazine recently stated that "whether it was a summit or just rubbish isn't clear yet."

German media magnate Leo Kirch seems to seize the opportunities that the country's new media legislation offers. He will he take over an additional share in sports channel DSF (Sat-ND, 2.1.97,) but the most significant deal has yet to be announced.
Kirch is trying to take over the majority of stakes in SAT.1, the country's second-most popular commercial channel. Kirch currently holds 43 percent of the station and plans to buy out shareholders AV Euromedia and Ravensburger Film + TV GmbH which hold 16 percent.
It is not going to be easy because the stakes have to be offered to all other SAT.1 shareholders as well. They include Axel Springer Verlag (ASV) and a consortium of newspaper publishers that is led by ASV. Both will reportedly use their options to buy some shares, which will lead to a combined 46.4 percent stake of both groups.
Thus, Leo Kirch may raise his stake to 52.6 percent. That does not mean that he will control the station, anyway. Important decisions are taken by the board of directors where Kirch and ASV will have four votes each in the end. After all, this is no change from the board's voting behaviour in the past.

I am a German citizen. Imagine my country would require me to send out Sat-ND accompanied by a German translation. Quite a hypothetical scenario as Sat-ND is, in the end, distributed by a machine that is located in the USA. Besides, the German government couldn't care less for language issues. It's different in France.
No, you probably don't get jailed for speaking English there. I won't comment on the country's national laws that, for instance, require a large part of every radio programme to consist of native music and try to eradicate any kind of foreign influence on the French language anyway.
But some folks over there now even want to censor French-based sites on the World Wide Web, which of course does not belong to either to France or to any other country.
The saviours of the French language call themselves "Defence of the French Language" and "Future of the French Language." Shockingly, they have discovered a French Web site that is all in English. The reason is quite simple: It's the site of Georgia Tech Lorraine in Metz, an institute that requires all its students to be fluent in English. 
"Since English is a requirement, we do not see the need to offer the information in French as well," said deputy director François Malassenet. Nonetheless, the friends of the French language [sounds like "Friends of the Italian opera" to me -- Ed.] have taken the issue to court. Tomorrow, a Paris court will hold a hearing on the legal challenge.

Many countries all over the world try to protect their citizens from smut, filth, democracy and generally everything that may remotely involve the concept of free speech. That includes the Western World, as you know by now. It also 
includes the United Arab Emirates (UAE.)
Half a year ago, there had been a clash between the UAE telecommunication company Etisalat and the Dubai police chief (Sat-ND, 18.6.96.: "Etisalat has pulled its representatives from the board, following attacks by the police chief Dhahi [Khalfan Tamim]. He called for stronger censorship and Internet licenses to be issued by the "Information" ministry and the police. Those licences are currently granted by Etisalat which is 60 percent state-owned.")
Since then, Tamim was known as a hard-liner, and he is still riding his attacks against the Internet. But now he has found a new enemy. "Israel is trying to portray itself as a peace-loving nation through the Internet," he said -- well, which country wouldn't? 
He expressed his concern that UAE nationals and other Arabs could converse with Israelis over the Internet. For him, it may be cause for concern because users may notice that there are just ordinary people on the other end of the line instead of enemies -- a highly subversive notion.
Tamim said Etisalat had launched a new plan to fight pornography and other "undesirable material" on the Internet. "As more computer users are linking up, the spread of undesirable material among the country's youths will become more visible. This will require the intervention of the authorities," he said.

FEEDBACK - Sat-ND, 4.1.97
"Don't forget that external services (the World Service) is also being sold.
This was in the BBC press release as well. Although there is a different 'preferred buyer.'" (Colin Breckons)
Sorry! I did not get any press release from the BBC although I *know* they read Sat-ND. I have to find all that out on myself by reading papers and surfing the Web.

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

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