Sat-ND, 27.2.97

Sat-ND 97-02-27 - Satellite and Media News

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I could do it the easy way, taking an article from an earlier Sat-ND, changing
a few dates, and that's it. Iran has once more announced it would soon launch
its first satellite (or rather: have it launched.) As a matter of fact, the
satellite was declared "ready" last year. 
The only available new fact in this seemingly never-ending story is that the
Iranian President Rafsanjani today announced that his country was to launch a
satellite during the next Iranian calendar year, which begins on March 21,
1997. He indicated that the satellite project will be carried out jointly by
ministries of post, telegraph and telephone as well as industry and defence.
This may mean that it will be used for civilian and military telecommunications
purposes. Any domestic television or radio channel is not very likely to appear
there as Iran has banned the individual reception of satellites. Officials have
in the past even denied that four channels of the Iranian state-run TV were
transmitted via INTELSAT (although they are, of course.) 
There are a few things more known (or at least believed to be known) about the
project that is called ZOHREH (Venus.) Iran has registered a total of six
geostationary positions with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU.)
Three of them were, at the end of 1995, temporarily occupied by an elderly
INTELSAT and two Russian satellites, all of which were providing Iran with
telecommunications capacity -- at least pro forma. As usual, the registrations
for those slots would have expired after a certain period of time if no
satellite had appeared there.
The satellite will use the Ku-band for its transmissions. At least, that's what
Iran's ambassador in Russia announced last August: ''Iran and Russia have
signed an agreement according to which the technology to build a satellite will
be transferred to Iran in three stages." (Not a complete surprise as Russia is
Iran's main weapons and technology supplier.) However, he said the project
would be launched within three years' time. It's not very likely that this will
be performed by a European rocket, let alone an American one. So, you may just
as well toss a coin whether it will be a Russian or a Chinese launcher. 
The ambassador added that ZOHREH was an "educational" satellite, which was in
line with other announcements made by officials at that time. They claimed the
project would fight what they called the "Western cultural invasion" but did
not elaborate on how that mission would be accomplished. 

NASA Television will switch satellites on March 15, hoping for a wider audience
throughout the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. The move would
have become necessary anyway because SPACENET 2 (69W,) the satellite used so
far, now comes to the end of its lifetime. Regarding the fact that it was
launched back in 1984, it's still pretty stable, by the way.
But the main reason probably is the expanded coverage that GE-2 (85W,) the
newly launched satellite of GE Americom, offers a larger coverage area.
Effective March 15, NASA TV will be available there on Transponder 9C on 3.880
GHz h, audio subcarrier 6.8 MHz. 

U.S. media monolith Disney Corp. is to add yet another country to its realm.
The company has announced to launch a French version Disney Channel on March
22, even though the channel will not be too Disney owing to domestic
restrictions on foreign programming in France. There, even a Disney channel has
to offer 60 percent of European programming, 40 percent of which have to be of
French origin. 
However, finding and buying European or French content doesn't seem to have
been an easy task for the World's second-biggest media company. Deals were
closed with various domestic distributors such as Gaumont Television, Europe
Images, Canal Plus Distribution, Ellipse and Marathon Intl.
The Disney Channel will be available on the digital TV platform Canalsatellite
as well as the cable networks run by France Telecom and Lyonnaise des Eaux.

After Microsoft Corp. revamped its Microsoft Network (MSN) recently, the
Internet-based online service bore a striking resemblance with television.
[Bear, b... -- where exactly was that list of irregular verbs?] But just
looking like TV isn't the only feature that MSN and the real thing have in
When TV shows flop, they get cancelled -- if necessary, even midseason. The
same will happen to the half of the 20 so-called shows MSN offers its
subscribers; a move that leaves about 200 contract workers unemployed. 
"There is a set of shows that won't be renewed," confirmed Larry Cohen, MSN
group product manager. A Microsoft spokesman admitted that the shows that are
getting cancelled have been unable to attract either advertising and/or
Bob Bejan, who heads content development for MSN, told The Los Angeles Times
that job cutbacks were part of the company's effort to adopt Hollywood's
practice of hiring and firing as production needs change.

"We are behind and we need to get on with it." 
Speaking to a conference on New Media and Broadcasting, BSkyB deputy managing
director David Chance left it no doubt that the development of digital TV in
the UK was lagging a bit behind. 
"Eight years ago we led Europe in multi-channel TV," he said. "We are probably
the last in Europe to launch a digital platform." 
Wait! You'll get yours yet.

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

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