Sat-ND, 15.1.97

Sat-ND 97-01-15 - Satellite and Media News

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New data from NASA indicate that the defunct TELSTAR 401 actually still is at
97W and shows no sign of instability whatsoever. (The common models for
calculating the satellite's position predict that even without any intervention
from the ground it would move by just 1 degree over the next year but such
calculations, of course, are just of a theoretical nature.) 
Should NASA data be correct, it is very unlikely that TELSTAR 401 got hit by
debris. Other factors such as solar radiation that may affect geostationary
satellites and, above all, their delicate electronic circuitry showed no
anomalies during the last few days, either. 
So far, contact with the spacecraft that abruptly went out of service last
Saturday apparently could not be re-established. While most services were moved
to other satellites, some just haven't found a new transponder yet. That means,
for instance, that pay-per-view services provided by SpectraVision to almost
1,000 hotels in the U.S. are affected.

Embratel has a new customer for its BRASILSAT satellites. The Brazilian bank
Basa (Banco da Amazonia) plans to set up a satellite based computer network by
the end of 1997. It will connect the bank's 99 agencies and its headquarters in
Belem. The service will cost about R$400,000 per month but speed up
transmission rates by 500 percent.

It was a bit of a surprise to see a Qatar based TV channel pop up on EUTELSAT.
Its equipment, however, is Japanese or British -- whatever you prefer.
In a press release, Japan's electronics giant Sony has swanked about an overall
contract valued at US$5.25 million providing the new station with loads of
Whosoever watches JSC now knows that the station runs "19 Sony Digital Betacam
VTRs and 84 Sony BVM and PVM monitors. JSC has also installed a Sony DVS-7000
Video Switcher with two channels of DME-3000 Digital Effects and audio/video
fibre-optic links between JSC and Qatar TV."
Sony says it also was largely responsible for the studio facilities, which
comprise a conventional four-camera news production studio with an additional
newsroom housing three more cameras. 
Sony Systems Integration division from Basingstoke in the UK and Qatar-based
Salam Technical Services worked together to complete the turnkey systems
project, which included the design, supply, installation and commissioning of
all satellite earth station and studio equipment, together with associated
staff training.
The station itself is built around a serial digital video infrastructure with
analogue audio. The system interfaces with the studio, edit suites and Qatar TV
facilities about five hundred metres away. This is achieved via fibre optic
links carrying embedded audio in an SDI signal, while the main outputs feed
satellite uplink systems in the new building.

Germany, 1995. It is heavily advertised in a campaign that reportedly cost
millions: Future I, the world's smallest satellite antenna for high and medium
powered broadcast satellites, produced by galaxis of Lübeck, Germany -- so far
more or less a supplier of satellite reception equipment offered in DIY stores.
(No, don't complain: that is just my very personal impression. Yours may
Germany, 1997. Up until now, not a single one of the 36 by 20 cm antennas was
sold because, mysteriously, they never appeared in the shops, let alone DIY
stores. A company spokesman now told a local newspaper why. "Following the
product presentation, the demand was so enormous we had to adapt our strategy."
Other companies would just have sold that stuff, but not so galaxis. "We want
to build our reputation upon this antenna. That has to be carefully prepared."
He did not elaborate on what exactly wasn't ready back in 1995-- the
technology, developed by an institute in Leipzig, or the company. 
Last October, however, galaxis announced the debut of the very same antenna on
the North American market, claiming "it will simplify and enhance satellite and
microwave reception for millions of consumers" and, of course, "set the new
standard in satellite communications."
I don't know whether one of those antennas have appeared in the U.S. yet.
However, galaxis have now announced Future I will be available this year in
Germany and, in effect, in Europe. It supposedly can replace the common 60cm
dishes used for ASTRA reception. 

Telenor and NetHold announced to establish a new company in order to introduce
satellite-based digital TV channels and services to Nordic viewers. The joint
venture, owned on a 50/50 basis by Telenor and NetHold, will be responsible for
the distribution of analogue and digital satellite TV services. The head office
is to be located in Oslo.
The venture comprises joint functions for pay-TV and encrypted TV channels, and
will initially concentrate on the direct-to-home (DTH) market. The parties have
agreed to share the high investment costs necessary to establish digital TV,
and to rationalise their highly competitive pay-TV distribution activities. The
new company will actively market both analogue and digital services in the
years to come.
Telenor and NetHold have agreed to introduce set-top boxes based on MPEG2/DVB
"Common interface" standard adopted by Cenelec, which can be used to receive
signals from all TV broadcasters. 
Other distributors and broadcasters will also get the opportunity to harmonise
their plans in favour of open set-top box solutions. Telenor and NetHold will
provide the channels so far offered by NetHold available to customers in
possession of Irdeto/Nokia's digital set-top boxes.

There's almost nothing you cannot get from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. A
company named DMV, part of News Digital Systems (NDS) and headquartered in the
UK, for instance provides end-to-end solutions for digital broadcasting. DMV
has sold over 1,500 MPEG encoders to customers (yes, even to the BBC) in over
30 countries, which accounts for a 60 percent market share. In addition, DMV
licences its technology to consumer electronics manufacturers including Pace
and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. 
DMV's latest customer is the Turkish broadcaster atv. The company placed an
order for two of DMV's compact Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) Codec
systems, which specifically designed for satellite news gathering applications.
"Broadcasting across a country as large as Turkey creates a need for compact
and versatile DSNG systems that enable us to move quickly to get to a local
story in time," said Samih Kaya, atv's technical director. "It is impractical
and uneconomical for us to have permanent uplinking facilities in every region
of the country, so we decided to invest in these two DSNG Codec systems to meet
our commitment to deliver timely local news across the whole nation."
So far, Mr Murdoch is not known to hold any stakes of the channels that
comprise the blossoming Turkish television landscape, though. Maybe because,
similar to Germany, the market is dominated by free-to-air stations --
something Mr. Murdoch may not be too familiar with.

There's almost nothing you cannot get from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The same
Mr Murdoch that set up his own news channel in the U.S. because he considers
CNN "too liberal" on the other hand has not the slightest scruples to
co-operate with the Chinese Communist Party newspaper. But then again, the
Chinese Communist party can hardly be regarded as a hoard of liberals either.
Maybe that's why Mr Murdoch likes to do business with them.
His News Corp and the official People's Daily today launched what they call an
online computer information service, dubbed ChinaByte. 
Also involved is Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., owned by Japan's Softbank Corp.
Ziff-Davis provides a database of computer companies in China as well as
technology news and software. All this, of course, not only completely in
Chinese but also carefully scrutinised to make sure that Chinese officials'
sensibilities won't be offended.
ChinaByte is the first product offered by PDN Xinren Information Technology Co.
Ltd. which was founded on June 13, 1995. The US$5.4 million joint venture with
China's state-owned People Daily newspaper was considered highly symbolic by
observers, underlining the slow but steady nature of Murdoch's attempts to
enter the Chinese market -- especially as far as television is concerned. He
wasn't too successful there so far, even though a joint satellite TV venture
called Phoenix was set up last March. Reportedly, it has failed to gain
wide-spread distribution up to now.
http://www.chinabyte.com/ (It's all in Chinese, as mentioned.)

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

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