Sat-ND, 21.2.97

Sat-ND 97-02-21 - Satellite and Media News

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Nobody knows the exact transponder line-up for SIRIUS 2, but things became
slightly clearer today when GE Capital Satellites-Europe and Nordiska
Satellitaktiebolaget (NSAB) of Sweden signed an agreement for transmission
services on the yet-to-be-launched satellite. SIRIUS 2 will be a Nordic
satellite just like SIRIUS 1 (which can't be really called a predecessor as it
is an elderly British direct broadcast satellite by the name of MARCOPOLO.) 
SIRIUS 2 is different in many ways. Built by France's Aerospatiale, it offers
not only 16 Ku-band transponders that cover the Scandinavian countries from its
position at 5E. There are 16 more Ku-band transponders on board that can be
received all over Europe. Today's agreement includes the 16 European
transponders; the others are owned by NSAB anyway (TS-ND, 10.7.95.) Back then,
the construction of SIRIUS 2 was just about to be commissioned, and GE appeared
on the scene as a possible user for the European half of the satellite. 
A press release describes what's going to happen: "GE will offer pan-European
satellite communications services via 16 transponders on the spacecraft, which
is currently scheduled for launch in July 1997. NSAB will use this capacity to
complement services provided via 16 other NSAB-owned transponders on the
Andreas Georghiou, vice president of global satellite services for GE Americom,
remarked that "This agreement lays the foundation for us to serve as a
practical satellite alternative for Europe." Why not -- some satellite
companies and organisations in this part of the world seem to have become a bit
stuck-up and high-handed recently. 
NSAB is a joint venture of Teracom Svensk Rundradio AB, Swedish Space
Corporation (SSC) and TeleDanmark A/S. GE Capital Satellites-Europe is a
subsidiary of GE American Communications, Inc. (GE Americom), a GE Capital
Services company. GE Americom operates the GE SATCOM, SPACENET and GSTAR
satellite fleets.

Today, GE Americom also announced that it has increased its equity investment
in Nahuelsat S.A., the Argentine regional communication satellite system for
the Americas, from 17.25 to 28.75 percent. GE Americom acquired the initial
stake just a few weeks ago (Sat-ND, 10.1.97.) 
Nahuelsat S.A. was founded in 1993 with an initial capital of US$20 million by
the three European aerospace companies Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Germany),
Aerospatiale (France) and Alenia Spazio (Italy). Since then, the equity has
grown to US$100 million following the involvement of partners such as IFC
(World Bank Group) and local companies including Telecom Argentina and Antel
(Uruguay) as well as major Argentinean banks and investment funds. 
Nahuelsat, holder of a long-term operating license from the Argentine
government, will shortly provide multipurpose satellite telecommunication
services (Sat-ND, 4.1.97) through its NAHUEL-1 Ku-band satellite specifically
designed for Latin America, following the successful launch of the satellite on
January 30, 1997. Three beams will cover Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and
Paraguay, Brazil and all Spanish-speaking countries of South and Central
America from Tierra del Fuego to Mexico and the Southern U.S. 
Nahuelsat has signed international services agreements with EMBRATEL (operating
BRASILSAT), TELECOMM/Mexico (operating the SOLIDARIDAD and MORELOS satellites)
and HISPASAT (Spain).

Asia Business News (ABN) has been available on satellite in its target area
since November 1993. Now, it has been granted a satellite license by Japan's
Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to broadcast its news via satellite in
Japan -- digitally and, later, in Japanese. 
ABN will co-operate with KK Kyodo (a subsidiary of news agency Kyodo) and other
local companies such as Jimbo & Co. and Jupiter Programming Co. Ltd. 
The channel will be part of the PerfecTV digital package, which was launched
last October, and gradually be customised to make it more accessible to
Japanese audiences. That obviously means that sometime there will be a
Japanese-language version of the channel featuring programming produced in
Japan specifically for the Japanese market.
ABN is held in equal shares by Dow Jones & Co. and by Telecommunications
International Inc., which also has interests in Jupiter Programming.

One might think there are more than enough news and/or business channels now,
regardless of what flavour or language they come in. But no, says Canadian
Satellite Communications Inc., heading an application for a news channel called
Le Canal des Affaires that was submitted today to the Canadian Radio-Television
and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC.) Its partners include the Globe & Mail
newspaper, publisher Les Affaires, WIC Western International Communications
Ltd. (WIC.B), Sobela, and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
In a press release, the group said its goal was "to fill a gap in the
availability of business specialty services for francophone viewers in Quebec
and in Canada." The Globe, WIC and Canadian Satellite are already partners in
Report on Business Television (ROBTv), which was earlier granted a license by
the CRTC to operate an English-language business channel.

Pearson Plc, known through their Financial Times and FT TV, may be sort of
ubiquitous, but they also know when to sell. Its TV arm announced to sell its
10 percent stake in Hong Kong's TVB to Shaw Brothers and an associated party
for 111 million, cashing in a 5 million profit. Said Pearson chief executive
Marjorie Scardino, "Our commitment to the growth of our businesses in Asia is
as strong as ever, but we have decided that this investment is no longer
effective in developing either our television business or other interests in
the region." Pearson's TV involvement in Asia reaches from game shows to the
satellite channel Home TV. 
Besides, Pearson Professional Ltd. offer even an electronic news service called
e-Asia, an email offspring by Cable & Satellite Asia. Unlike this so-called
newsletter you're reading right now (aren't you?,) it's not available for free.

The Christoffel Foundation announced today they want to start their own
satellite TV station in July. Called ETV (Evangelic Television,) it will be on
air only during night-time using other stations' capacities while they're are
off the air. ETV have already obtained a licence from the Dutch Media Authority
(Commissariaat voor de Media.) Talks are underway up with several cable
operators in the Netherlands to feed the signal into their cable network. 
The problem: before ETV can be distributed they also have to talk with several
other organisations about the use of their channels at night-time. ETV, which
pro forma acts as a commercial station, will nonetheless carry no commercials.
They hope that programmes will be paid for by several companies and their
Christian viewers. 
Asked why they want to transmit the ETV programmes at night, they said that the
gospel should be spread at night more than at any other time of the day.
(Hans Knot)

The Movie On Demand department in Hoofddorp (The Netherlands) was closed down
yesterday. All staff, together with staff from some other departments, have
been sent home, and the equipment is being removed from the building.
Only the NMCC is still to be found at Hoofddorp but it could well be that this
department will disappear as well.
All of this has to do with the selling of the company to Canal+. The total
number of people fired could well be more than 300 !!
(John Tameris, Hoofddorp)

[Before the merger with Canal+, NetHold said they would establish their
European digital TV network in Hoofddorp, The Netherlands. The agreements
signed with the Dutch PTT Telecom as supplier of uplink services and Britain's
NTL as equipment supplier were estimated at 20 million. The company Drake also
was to supply a 64-channel NVOD (Near Video on Demand) system. (TS-ND,
I have earlier expressed my expectation that the so-called merger was more or
less a sell-off of NetHold's assets to Canal Plus: "While NetHold owners
Richemont and MHI will turn over 100 percent of their shares to Canal+, they
will gain just marginal influence on the French pay-TV company." (Sat-ND,
9.9.96.) -- Ed.]

U.S. News & World Report has announced the launch of a radio news and feature
service that will allow radio stations to record and broadcast stories from the
pages of the magazine adapted for radio. Starting tomorrow, it will be
available to broadcasters at no cost (shock shock horror horror shock shock
The service will not only use a toll-free number (1-888-NEWSDIR 639-7347) to
spread its news but also utilise several Internet audio transmission standards.
New stories from the forthcoming edition of U.S. News will become available
each Saturday.

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

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