Sat-ND, 16.02.97

Sat-ND 97-02-15 - Satellite and Media News

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The International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation Intelsat has
delayed plans for a partly privatisation until next year. The decision is
widely seen as a victory for commercial operators who'd like to see Intelsat
dissolved completely sooner rather than later.
The delay seems to have been caused by members of the U.S. congress that had
serious concerns. Thus, it is still unclear which parts of Intelsat will be
privatised and what satellites and orbital positions will be transferred to the
new company. The U.S. administration reportedly doesn't even know whether there
should be any government backing at all in the proposed new entity.

The Japanese JCSAT-4 was to be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Station on
February 16 at the opening of a 83-minute launch window that extended from 7:37
to 9 p.m. EST (0037-0200 GMT). The Atlas IIAS used for this mission consists of
the Atlas booster with four strap-on solid rocket boosters and the Centaur
upper stage. JCSAT-4 is a Hughes HS 601 design carrying both Ku-band and C-band
transponders. JCSAT-4 will relay voice, data and television signals to Japan,
Asia, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. ILS (International Launch Services)
recently announced continuing business between Atlas and JSAT with the launch
of JCSAT-6 in mid-1998. 
Nine Atlas launches are presently scheduled for 1997 and future launch
commitments through the year 2000 total 30. Launch operations are provided by
Lockheed Martin Astronautics at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Complex 36. Mission
management is provided by ILS, San Diego, California, formed in 1995 to jointly
market Atlas and the Russian built Proton launch services to the international
and domestic satellite industry. 

McDonnell Douglas and Space Systems/Loral, a Loral Space & Communications Ltd.
company, announced that they have entered into an agreement for five Delta III
launches between 1999 and 2001.
Designed to meet a growing lift requirement for a wide variety of missions, the
Delta III provides a low-Earth orbit payload capability of 18,200 pounds and a
geosynchronous transfer orbit capability of 8,400 pounds. This is twice the
payload capability of Delta II [one of which recently failed -- Ed.]
Delta III backlog is now 18 launches through 2002. The first Delta III launch
is planned for 1998.

A Pegasus XL rocket that will launch Spain's MiniSat satellite into orbit
arrived in Spain. The MiniSat satellite should meanwhile be integrated with the
Pegasus XL vehicle in preparation for the March launch which will in fact be
the first-ever space mission originating from Western Europe. 
Orbital is a space and information systems company that designs, manufactures,
operates and markets a broad range of affordable space and ground
infrastructure systems, satellite access products and satellite services. Its
Pegasus rocket isn't launched from the ground but from a converted jumbo jet.
However, such a launch failed last November rendering two scientific
satellites, SAC-B and HETE, useless.

Another launch expected in March involves AGILA II, the Philippines' second
satellite. This is going to be especially interesting as it will be launched
from China. TV? Nope. Agila II will, should it really make its way into orbit,
serve all sectors of satellite communication from telecommunications and
entertainment to education and the Internet. The satellite is expected to allow
a transmission rate in the range of multi-megabytes per second for data access
via PCs with a satellite dish adapter.
Designed by US-based Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), the Agila II is one of the
largest spacecraft in the company's FS 13000 satellite series, in both overall
dimension and total number of active communications transponders. The satellite
is said to have a guaranteed 12-year mission life supporting a payload
consisting mostly of communications facilities. 
C-band transponders are better endowed than their Ku-band counterparts, serving
the Asia-Pacific rim including the Philippines, Eastern China, Indonesia,
Malaysia, Indo-China, Japan, Korea, India, Bangladesh, and Hawaii. 
The Ku-band transponders will cover the Philippines, coastal China, Taiwan and
northern Vietnam.

Scientists all over the world have during the past few years set up a chain of
devices that allow to monitor what's going on on the sun and to better
understand how certain solar effects effect the Earth. Those devices include
ground-based facilities as well as satellites. One of them is the Solar and
Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO,) a U. S.-European spacecraft that monitors
solar storms. 
Maybe the chain maybe broken soon. Naval Research Laboratory astronomer
Guenther Brueckner said the Clinton administration's proposed budget would mean
pulling the plug on the SOHO satellite, adding such a shutdown would be crazy. 
In fact, he's right. The monitoring system, for instance, proved that the
spectacular death of TELSTAR 401 was likely caused by a solar event. But it's
not just satellites that suffer. The best-known example for the effects a solar
storm can cause occurred in March 1989 when such an event knocked out the power
grid in the Canadian province of Quebec for eight hours and caused millions of
dollars in damage. Besides it seems that solar storms have less spectacular,
but nevertheless costly effects on power supply facilities in certain parts of
the world.

Tee-Comm Electronics Inc. announced that its Milton uplink centre is fully
operational, and currently test-broadcasting 70 fully-addressable, encrypted
services in anticipation of the launch of its broadcasting subsidiary,
AlphaStar Canada. Pending license approval, AlphaStar Canada is ready to be the
first fully-operational provider of digital direct-to-home (DTH) satellite
television in the country.
The channels currently being test-broadcast include all major Canadian networks
in English and French, most approved U.S. services, and several international
channels. In addition to this video line-up, AlphaStar Canada is
test-broadcasting a number of digital audio channels.
"Our technical people have been working diligently since our December CRTC
hearing to meet our commitment to the Commission to be up and running thirty
days after receiving our license," said Pat Keeffe, Vice President, Network
Operations and Satellite Services, AlphaStar Canada. "Our first priority is to
deliver on this commitment and provide Canadians with the digital
direct-to-home (DTH) service they have been waiting for."
AlphaStar Canada's sister company, AlphaStar Digital Television, has been
broadcasting in the United States since July 1996.

MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Centre) has signed a new twelve year contract
with British Telecom (BT) for uplinki services on the Hot Bird 5 satellite. BT
currently supplies uplink services for MBC on EUTELSAT II-F1. The contract will
allow MBC to migrate seamlessly to the new Hot Bird 5, which will be co-located
at the 13 degrees East orbital position. The service will continue to be
monitored and controlled by BT's London Teleport. 
To be launched in 1998, Hot Bird 5 will offer MBC expanded satellite coverage
and access to the expanding direct-to-home and cable television markets. The
satellite will also give MBC access to cable and MMDS systems in the Middle
The relationship between the two companies began in 1991 when BT installed
on-site uplink facilities at MBC's headquarters and provided satellite capacity
on a EUTELSAT satellite. 
MBC describes itself as the world's leading international satellite delivered
news and entertainment service broadcasting in Arabic. It is available
throughout the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and Central Africa via
EUTELSAT and ARABSAT. Its programmes are also transmitted to the U.S., Canada
and Central America through the ANA Television Network (ARAB-NET). 

France's Generale des Eaux and Havas SA have, as expected, completed a complex
transaction in which Havas raised its stake in pay-TV station Canal+ to 40.3%
by acquiring Generale des Eaux's 19.3% stake for 5.6 billion French francs
($1.01 billion). Havas has also acquired Generale des Eaux's television and
movie production unit, Generale d'Images, for 526 million francs ($94.7
million). In return, Generale des Eaux will become Havas's biggest shareholder,
raising its stake to 29.6% from 2.1% currently.
Company officials said the transaction was a key strategic step toward making
their companies leading players in Europe's fast-growing audio-visual sector.

BK TELECOM, the largest commercial Serbian TV station, will soon begin to
broadcast its program by satellite. BK TELECOM will 24 hours per day using the
digital MPEG-2 system. In addition, the broadcasts will be encrypted [God knows
why -- Ed.] Talks are underway about leasing a transponder on either AMOS 1
(4W), EUTELSAT II-F4 (7E), or INTELSAT K (21.5W). At the same time, BK
TELECOM is negotiating with manufacturers of set-top boxes with the obvious aim
of securing a deal for the production of decoders for their planned new
BK TELECOM also revealed its plans for Internet services (which will be
launched by the end of this month). This means that this TV station will be the
first Yugoslav station which broadcasts some of its program via the Internet.
Viewers will be able to watch some of BK TELECOM's most popular shows such as
TELEFAKT (the leading news program which is broadcast two times during the day:
at 15:55 and 18:55 CET) by pointing their browsers at http://www.BKTV.com. 
The popular TV station is also expanding its audience by expanding its
terrestrial broadcasting facilities. BK TELECOM is currently aired over 15
terrestrial transmitters in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and an
additional number of transmitters in Republika Srpska (one of the two entities
of Bosnia & Herzegovina). 
BK TELECOM is part of a huge Yugoslav industrial and media conglomerate which
is controlled by the so-called "Brothers Karic"-- hence the BK acronym in the
name of the TV station. The CEO of the corporation, and the most prominent of
the two brothers, is Bogoljub Karic, a wheeler-dealer who has managed to
establish a foothold in many telecommunication sectors for the BK empire. For
instance, he controls the largest Internet Service Provider in the country, BK
MR Systems, as well as a GSM mobile phone network.
(Vladimir Pekic, SATELIT TV VIDEO magazine)

German pay-TV companies continue to behave more than just strangely. While the
operators of the two existing digital TV services keep suing each other, they
still talk with each other. Kirch Group, the first to offer digital TV in
Germany, let it be known that a compromise with its main rival premiere is
conceivable. premiere, although partly owned by Kirch, is dominated by
Germany's Bertelsmann AG and France's Canal+. Bertelsmann had recently sent a
sort of valentine card to Kirch, promoting a co-operation of both services.
Nonetheless, a court in the meantime put an injunction back into effect that
bars Kirch from promoting his DF1 package outside the German federal state of
Bavaria. So far, DF1 and premiere use mutually incompatible set-top boxes for
their respective services.
A DF1 spokesman admitted that the announced take-over of a 49 percent equity in
DF1 by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. also depended on the outcome of the talks
with premiere.

FEEDBACK -- Sat-ND outage
Our ISP (Ozemail) had a big hiccup last week and we have received no
international email since. Our last newsletter was Sat-ND 97-02-05.
Is it possible that you have all taken a week off to celebrate some obscure
religious festival which just happened to coincide with Ozemails system crash?
(Geoff Clifton)
[Well, how the heck did you find that out? It is a most sinister religious
festival by the most appalling and truly ghastly name of "Redaktionsschluß."
Worse than any voodoo cult, believe you me! The bad thing about it is that it
is celebrated in Munich bimonthly, and it usually lasts longer that just a
week. He who survives it may count himself lucky ;-) -- Ed.]

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

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