Sat-ND, 18.2.97

Sat-ND 97-02-18 -- Satellite and Media News

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This is, no doubt, the strangest rocket launch ever. Steve Bennett from
Dukinfield, Greater Manchester (UK,) hopes to put his own satellite in orbit by
2001. He's practising hard and has launched a 3-metre rocket called Lexx today
that was expected to reach an altitude of almost 2 kilometres. 
Well, he succeeded to launch the vehicle, but nobody knows its whereabouts.
Some part of the rocket was supposed to parachute back to earth but so far
didn't. In addition, Steve lost contact to the rocket soon after it went out of
sight, indicating a malfunction. 
No problem, really. Steve has another rocket in store which will be more than
twice as tall. With it, he hopes to reach an altitude of almost 10 kilometres
which would be a new world record for an amateur rocket. Launch date: before
the end of next month.

...at least with its existing network that is used for planning and
co-ordinating satellite transmission services. This internal network, which
provides voice and telex communications to customer in more than 200 countries,
will be converted to an all-digital 64 kbit/s frame relay network with both
voice and data capability. The new network will allow desktop-to-desktop
computer connectivity between Intelsat, customer earth stations and
The new network will capitalise on low cost and easy-to-use Internet
technology. In addition to voice, the new network will also support electronic
mail, a home page with access to operational information, and an file transport
protocol (FTP) directory capable of distributing sun interference data,
transmission parameters and other technical Intelsat information in HTML

Magnitude Compression Systems, Inc., a subsidiary of General Instrument
Corporation, has signed a $13.7 million contract with Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co., LTD to supply Magnitude MPEG-2/DVB Encoding Systems, capable of
handling 160 channels, to DIRECTV JAPAN, Inc. The systems are currently being
shipped to DTVJ, which is scheduled to launch its direct-to-home (DTH) service
in the third quarter of 1997. 
The Magnitude system is compliant with both the Moving Picture Experts Group
(MPEG-2) standards, which govern the digital processing and transmission of
audio and video information, and the Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) standards,
which define the broadcasting of digital video and audio signals.
DTVJ will be one of the largest DTH satellite systems in the Asia Pacific
region. It is expected to launch its digital, direct-to-home satellite
entertainment service in autumn 1997 with approximately 100 video and audio

The BBC Worldwide/Flextech joint venture has agreed to give first option
support to the DTT (Digital Terrestrial TV) multiplex bid led by Carlton
This arrangement will help to ensure that viewers have the best possible
opportunity to access the new channels being provided by the BBC/Flextech joint
venture. The BBC believes that this will help contribute to the overall success
of DTT, which it strongly supports. 
The agreement with the Carlton consortium relates only to DTT. Satellite and
cable transmission of the BBC Worldwide/Flextech joint venture channels will be
considered separately. 
Quite separately from this venture, the BBC plans to use the public service
multiplex it has already been allocated on DTT to deliver an enhanced package
of free-to-air services for licence fee payers. They include BBC-1 and BBC-2
broadcast in widescreen format with superior-quality pictures and sound; new
extra digital TV services supplementing BBC-1 and BBC-2 output with a range of
additional programmes, information and graphics; 24 hour news on television;
enhanced coverage and increased access to regional news and information; and
extensive opportunities for wide-ranging interactive learning in the school,
workplace and home. 
The planned new services will be available free-to-air as digital delivery
systems -- satellite, cable and terrestrial -- are launched in the UK. 
Copies of the consultation document are available and on the Internet at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/digital.htm. The BBC is inviting licence payers to
comment on its proposals. Comments should be sent by March 31st, 1997. 

Satellite broadcasting by zip code? "I think it's is certainly not out of the
realm of possibility within the next few years," says U.S. senator John McCain.
He's pledging congressional hearings to explore this technology. Reports speak
of revolutionary new spot beam technology, suggesting that some satellite-TV
broadcasters already claim the capability to retransmit limited local
programming, for instance Rupert Murdoch's planned ASkyB service. 
Well, well, have satellites changed so much? Not really. Actually, this is more
or less a side-effect of digital TV: decoders are individually addressable.
Digital broadcasting allows not only broadcasting by zip code, it actually
allows broadcasting by house numbers. French football [soccer] fans should know
this in case they live in the vicinity of a football stadium. Digital
pay-per-view transmissions of matches are unavailable there for obvious
However, it's not the technology that worries U.S. lawmakers. The question is
whether such services should be treated the same way as their terrestrial
counterparts, i.e. cable operators. Of course, says Bob Thomson, senior vice
president of cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. "We have no objections to
spot beam technology as long as [they] have to comply with the same federal
regulations that we do. That includes retransmission consent, must-carry and
all the copyright rules and regulations that cable has to comply with."

French pay TV and satellite TV broadcaster Canal+ said subscriptions rose by 13
percent during 1996, totalling 8.2 million at the end of last year.
Subscriptions to CanalSatellite in France rose 46 percent to 446,106 at the end
of 1996, whereas in Spain they rose to 98,681 from 41,623. 
Canal+ has also published its current ownership structure: Havas SA now owns
34.4 percent, Richemont/MIH  20 percent, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations 5.4
percent, Société Générale 3.6 percent, Pathé 1.3 percent. The remainder of 35.3
percent is hold by the general public.

The EU commission has cleared a Luxembourg based channel that, by coincidence,
broadcasts in Polish. RTL 7, a joint venture by Universal, a subsidiary of the
Canadian Seagram Co. Ltd., and European media company CLT/Ufa had no impact on
competition in the European market, the commission said. (Political observers,
by the way, think that Poland is the first East European country that will be
admitted to the Union -- maybe even before the turn of the century. Frankly, I
don't know whether the case will be reviewed then.) 

Kurdish satellite broadcaster Med-TV has accused Turkey of jamming their
broadcasts several times although thousands of European satellite enthusiasts
didn't notice anything. Now, Med TV claims that the Turkish government wants to
ban satellite dishes in northern Kurdistan -- of course, in order to prevent
viewers from watching Med TV broadcasts (which aren't that harmless after all
considering children posing children with machine guns -- screen shots
available upon request.) Dish collecting operations allegedly had begun in some
villages in the region. 
(Thanks to Martyn Williams who forwarded the original text.)

Two Internet radio tips from Dragutin Markovic: 

Radio ZID Sarajevo can be heard via the Internet since last Friday at
http://www.xs4all.nl/frankti/tv.html. The contact phones of Radio ZID are (+)
387 71 443 770 and (+) 387 71 470 854.

The (now world famous) local radio station B-92 in Belgrade can be heard via
the Internet since the beginning of February. You can access the latest news
from Serbia by clicking on the "Live Internet Broadcasting of Radio B-92" link
on the B-92 home page at http://www.xs4all.nl/opennet/. Radio B-92 regularly
broadcasts news in English several times a day.

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

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