Sat-ND, 19.2.97

Sat-ND 97-02-19 - Satellite and Media News

This service is provided free of charge for personal use. It may be used and
redistributed for non-commercial purposes only, provided the following notice
is included: "(c) Copyright by Sat-ND, http://www.sat-net.com/pck/"

Please send contributions and comments regarding Sat-ND to
Peter C. Klanowski, email: pck@LyNet.De

Sat-ND is sponsored by TELE-satellite International

More mailing lists: http://www.TELE-satellite.com/
Satellite Charts: http://www.satcodx.com/


The launch of INTELSAT 801 aboard an Ariane 44P will be delayed by two days.
According to Ariancespace, the launch will now take place on February 28
between 21:17 and 22:11 local time (00:16 and 01.10 CET.) The delay became
necessary after a valve had to be replaced through which the third stage is

It would be unfair to assume that it was sheer megalomania that led Teledesic
to propose its gigantic 840-satellite system. Actually, the use of the Ka-band
as well as some other technical parameters make this number of spacecraft
necessary in order to cover the globe with the "Internet in the sky" backed by
billionaires Craig McCaw and William Henry ("Bill") Gates III.
We don't know whether they have problems in raising the US$9 billion -- that's
what it will cost in the end -- or any troubles in finding launch capacity.
However, it seems that Teledesic is now exploring the possibility of initially
operating a partial system that comprises just 288 satellites and covers just a
third of the globe (and nobody should have difficulties in guessing _which_
parts of the globe that would be.) A spokesman for Teledesic said that the
company has not given up its plan to build an 840-satellite system.
Recently, Motorola's Iridium project announced a major shift in its strategy.
Instead of providing less developed regions with a telephone network, Iridium
will instead do the exact opposite. Services will be targeted at wealthy
businessmen and travellers in densely populated areas in industrialised
countries (Sat-ND, 10.1.97.) I hope you don't mind me repeating a few more
sentences I wrote back then:
"Other satellite services, especially the monstrous Teledesic project, have
declared the developing world as their main target. It is not clear whether
they actually see any market there or whether they just need the support of
those nations in international bodies such as the International
Telecommunications Union. Thus, Iridium may not be the last 'global network' to
shift its business strategy once it's through with international regulation."

Football [soccer] transmission rights are a highly political issue in Europe,
simply because its the most popular sports in this region of the world. It may
be different in Japan, but not too different. TCI International, a subsidiary
of U.S. cable giant TCI, and Japans Sumitomo Corporation have acquired
exclusive distribution rights for Japanese premier league soccer through a
joint venture called Jupiter Programming Co., Ltd. (JPC.) Japan's J-League
ranks as highly with Japanese sports fans as baseball and sumo wrestling. JPC
won the rights, which are effective for five years, against aggressive
competition and is now entitled to distribute all J-League games, including
League Championships, over cable and direct-to-home satellite networks in
JPC will carry live broadcasts of the matches each week from the beginning of
April on its entertainment channel CSN1 Movie Channel which has over one
million cable and direct-to-home subscribers. It is also available on PerfecTV,
the digital DTH platform launched in autumn 1996.
JPC, a 50/50 joint venture between Tele-Communications International and
Sumitomo Corporation was formed in March 1996 to develop manage and distribute
television channels to cable and satellite networks in Japan. JPC has so far
launched four channels: CSN1 Movie Channel, Discovery, Golf Network and Shop
Channel. It plans to launch several more in 1997 and 1998.

We all know that figures in the satellite business tend to be enormous. That
doesn't just apply to the distance of geostationary satellites from the Earth
-- or their cost. When folks at Space Systems/Loral summed up the time their
satellites had actively been in orbit so far, they arrived at more than 600
(six hundred) years. 
"The 600-year milestone of reliability and longevity represents the combined
success of 82 communications and weather satellites built during the past
nearly four decades by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L.) Of the 82 satellites placed
in orbit, most have already exceeded their projected mission lifetimes. With
the launches of the company's 56 Globalstar spacecraft over the next two years,
the years of service in space will grow exponentially," SS/L said in a press
I don't know whether I have any readers who work for Hughes (or any other
company,) but wouldn't it be nice anyway if they could do a calculation like
that for their birds?

Most people in the Western world drive around in cars, work in an office, or
watch TV at home. Thus, it's not really obvious why they should want to know
what the weather will be like. Anyway, it may be more comfortable to watch the
weather on TV than to be exposed to the real thing. That's why there are not
enough weather channels on TV, and maybe that's why NBC has announced a new
cable and satellite service, "MSNBC Weather By Intellicast." Guess what? It's a
24-hour channel offering viewers extensive local weather conditions and
forecasts, plus regional, national and international weather information. It
also includes four-day forecasts, radar and satellite imagery, and severe
weather watches -- all in a clear, simple graphic presentation.
The service was initially developed for PRIMESTAR, which sought a faster, more
localised weather service for its customers. When PRIMESTAR launches the
service it will appear on a multiplex of ten regional weather channels covering
the United States. NBC also plans to offer a customised version of the service
to cable systems looking for local weather solutions. And, what a coincidence!,
PRIMESTAR previously announced that it will also be launching MSNBC, which has
over 30 million subscribers, in April 1997. Say no more.

Why should a newcomer service such as Tee-Comm's Alphastar survive in the
digital TV zoo in the U.S. that includes competitors such as DirecTV,
PrimeStar, Echostar Communications Corp and -- soon to come -- Mr Murdoch's
ASkyB? Simple. Jim Wilkinson, Chief Operating Officer, told an investment
conference that "We believe we will succeed, based on our low operating costs."
Because they are so low, just half a million subscribers are needed to reach
break-even in comparison to 1.3 - 1.4 million subscribers that other services
need to start earning money. But how do they do it? Costs are kept down by
leasing assets rather than owning them. 
Alphastar has 115 channels in the U.S. and 70 channels broadcast in a test mode
in Canada pending the license decision which, according to Wilkinson, is
expected shortly. The company concentrates on niches markets such as ethnic
minorities in North America, non-cable homes and areas with cable congestion.
The service will move from TELSTAR 402R to a yet-to-be-launched TELSTAR 5
satellite in May, thus expanding its coverage area to include northern Canada
as well as the northern fringes of South America.

Austria will allow commercial radio all over the country this year. The ruling
parties SPÖ and ÖVP have reached a compromise that will enable two (apparently
regional) stations to be set up in Vienna and one each in the other eight
federal states. There will also be 45 local stations serving urban areas. 
Austria was the last European country (apart from Albania) that did not license
commercial stations. However, there's no commercial TV in sight, while German
stations such as RTL and SAT.1 exploit the situation by beaming Austrian
versions of their programming to the country's cable networks. The only
difference to the original versions is, of course, that Austrian commercials
are inserted instead of German ones.

Want to know what's hot on the hi-tech front in Yugoslavia? A very popular
radio program devoted to promoting new media (computers, hi-fi Internet, radio
and satellite) has recently appeared on the Internet. MODULACIJE 202 which is
aired on one of the local stations in Belgrade (Beograd 202) can be heard live
in Real Audio every Saturday from 15:00-18:15 hrs CET. The program was awarded
the Diskobolos award last year as the best radio and TV program in Yugoslavia
devoted to new media. Audio files of previous editions of the program are also
available. The program is presented by the legendary disk-jockey Zoran Modli.
MODULACIJE 202 as well as other Yugoslav media presentations can be found on
the following adress: http://www.beotel.net. 
(Branislav Pekic)
[Hmm... I have the impression that all of this may not be in English, but give
it a try anyway... -- Ed.]

FEEDBACK -- Sat-ND, 17.2.96
>Internet users shouldn't expect too much from satellite based services.
"I expect to stop paying the phone company 3$ an hour to connect to the net ! I
don't care how fast or slow a satellite connection is as long as it's on a flat
rate basis and lets me connect 24 hrs a day for a single monthly fee. If I
didn't live in the countryside, I'd be on cable already .... but not to watch
(D L Thornton)


Some initial assessment seems to emerge from News Corp. regarding their Chinese
venture Phoenix almost one year after its launch. It is based on a survey
carried out by -- no, not by any research institute but by China's State
Statistical Bureau. Oh well. The survey says that Phoenix is currently reaching
36.2 million households, or 140 million people (some 10 percent of the
population, if I'm right.) 
Amazingly, although broadcasting, it was still not officially licensed by
China's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. That also prevents Phoenix,
broadcasting on the Chinese-controlled ASIASAT 1 and the Indonesian PALAPA C2,
from promoting itself in China.
The three-channel package Phoenix is a joint venture that includes Mr Murdoch's
Star TV holding a 45 percent interest, and Hong Kong firms Today's Asia Ltd and
China Wise International taking 45 percent and 10 percent stakes respectively.
Both seem to be somewhat closely controlled by China. 
"This survey proves Phoenix has built a strong presence in China with a base of
loyal viewers. We're delighted with the results," Phoenix's corporate
communications manager Susan Williams said. She dismissed reservations about
the accuracy of the results with this revealing statement: "In India, for
example, three years ago it was hard to get accurate figures, but that's to the
case now."

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

For information on how to subscribe or unsubscribe, send email to
Majordomo@tags1.dn.net (_not_ to me, please) and include the line
in the body of your message. Or have a look at:

[Other mailing lists]