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Sat-ND, 20.3.97




Sat-ND 97-03-20 -- Satellite and Media News

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KEEP YOUR ORBIT TIDY
If scientists only had a giant vacuum cleaner. They don't, and so
their three-day conference on space junk held in Darmstadt, Germany,
had to end with a statement instead of some collective hoovering
action. (And as there's already a vacuum up there, a vacuum cleaner
wouldn't work anyway, would it?)
The statement contained some more figures, probably just to confuse
us: just five percent of the 10,000 trackable objects, which are
bigger than 10 centimetres, are operational. In addition, there are
70,000 to 150,000 smaller parts which are considered the bigger risk
because of their vast number. A particle with a diameter of about a
centimetre can kill a full-blown US$100 million communications
satellite  if it's fast enough.
"Clean-up in space is neither technically nor financially feasible,"
the scientists stated, demanding efforts be directed towards reducing
and avoiding the creation of space debris. But among the proposals
put forward on the conference, there also was the extravagant idea of
blowing space junk into smithereens with in-orbit laser guns. At
least, this would open up the opportunity for the manufacturing
industry to create a completely new kind of satellite. We'll keep you
informed about the launch dates of... JUNKBUSTER 1 and TRASHBASHER A.


LORAL IN US$600 PACT WITH INTELSAT
Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) will build two high-powered, high-capacity
satellites for the International Telecommunications Satellite
Organisation (Intelsat.) Called the Follow-on Series (FOS) II
program, the satellites will enable the 135-nation consortium to
deliver more advanced communications services to customers. This has
been known for some months now, but it seems as though the deal has
been finalised now.
Under the contract, which with options for additional satellites has
a program value exceeding US$600 million, SS/L will build and deliver
two satellites for launch in the summer and late autumn of the year
2000. According to earlier Intelsat statements, SS/L is the prime
contractor whilst there will also be "significant participation by
companies from Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan."
The high-powered FOS-II satellites will allow Intelsat to provide the
Indian Ocean region with advanced communications and digital services
to customers equipped with small earth stations. SS/L has been the
prime contractor on key INTELSAT programs, so far delivering 24
spacecraft including INTELSAT V, INTELSAT VII and INTELSAT VIIA. The
FOS-II spacecraft comprise the ninth INTELSAT satellite series. 
The FOS-II spacecraft will carry a significantly greater percentage
of high-power amplifiers and solar array power than the INTELSAT VIIA
series. Each of the FOS-II satellites will operate 44 (forty-four)
transponders in the C-band and 12 transponders in the Ku-band.
(That's even two more Ku-band transponders than what the Intelsat
specification called for.) These satellites are based on Space
Systems/Loral's standard three-axis spacecraft and will have a
mission life in excess of 13 years. (Originally, Intelsat announced
15 years.) 
This project brings the total number of satellites in this family of
SS/L spacecraft that have been built or ordered to 59, including 22
currently in production. 


OTHER USES FOR NASA SATELLITES
Need some video to be transmitted digitally from Washington, D.C. to
London, UK or vice versa? Call Columbia, the company that uses NASA's
Tracking and Relay Data Satellite System (TDRSS) for commercial
purposes. 
Columbia Communications Corp. is offering this compressed digital
video service in partnership with Teleport London International (TLI)
and Washington International Teleport (WIT). 
Known as Atlantic Digilink, the two-way compressed digital video
service between London and Washington was described by Mr. Gross as
"the most competitively priced video service of its kind available."
While rates would be even lower for individual significant usage
commitments, ad hoc services are priced at US$895 per hour for the
entire package. 


WORLDSPACE INVESTS IN U.S. DIGITAL RADIO
WorldSpace, the company that tries to bring digital satellite radio
to less developed regions of the world, now seems to be eyeing the
U.S. market as well. American Mobile Radio Corporation (AMRC,) a
company which is bidding for a Digital Audio Radio Service (DARS)
license in the U.S., today announced a 20 percent minority investment
by WorldSpace.
"Through our investment in AMRC, we'll be able to share in the
opportunity to bring DARS to the US market," said WorldSpace Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer Noah A. Samara. WorldSpace is developing
a global network of three geosynchronous satellites "to provide DARS
outside the United States," an AMRC press release stated.
American Mobile Radio Corporation is a subsidiary of American Mobile
Satellite Corporation, which not only has its own (more or less
experimental) satellite up and running at 101W but also offers a
full range of mobile communications throughout the continental United
States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and hundreds
of miles of U.S. coastal waters. AMSC's shareholders include Hughes
Communications Inc., Singapore Telecom, and AT&T Wireless Services.


OZ CABLE RUMOURS
A few weeks ago, Network Seven commenced their legal case against
Optus Vision claiming breached contracts and agreements, created by
every media man and his dog buying up (bailing out) chunks of the
business, which entitled 7 to aquire majority ownership of the
overhead cable system for a fraction of its construction cost.
Figures bandied suggest Optus Vision has invested A$2 billion in the
rollout and that this could be legally acquired by 7 for less than
A$400 million.
One would have expected a loud and dirty battle but... near silence
except an announcement that the hearing had begun and was expected to
last for two weeks (time's up).
Well, rumour has it that Optus Vision has got frozen toes. Their real
interest in the cable rollout was not TV but telephony via the
reverse path, a system which even the least curious technician knew
was iffy at best, had no world standard established and was almost
guaranteed to choke if more than three calls were attempted
simultaenush... at once. Add to this that Optus vision has been
publicly despised for defacing suburbia with thousands of miles of
ugly paralleled half inch cables and amplifiers slung off electricity
poles just above head height and one can understand their discomfort.
End result (only a rumour mind), they (Optus Vision) are going to lay
down, take what they are offered and get out.
(Geoff Clifton)


DEUTSCHES SPORTFERNSEHEN BROADCASTS ILLEGALLY
The license for German sports channel Deutsches SportFernsehen (DSF)
was declared void yesterday by the supreme administrative court in
Berlin. The Bavarian media authority did not apply the
cross-ownership rules valid at that time when the issued the license,
the court stated. Back then in 1991, Germany's media mogul Leo Kirch
and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi were the channel's main
shareholders.
They still are, by the way. Kirch's subsidiary Taurus holds a 49.4
percent stake while Berlusconis Rete Invest Holding owns 33.5
percent. Under current cross-ownership rules, this is perfectly
legal. Doctores Kirch and Berlusconi can be quite confident that
their channel will receive a new license from Bavaria  even though
officials had earlier moaned that the loss of the original license
would mean the "total shut-down and financial collapse" of the
channel. 


BRANDENBURG'S ORB TO BE LAUNCHED ON ASTRA
The German regional channel ORB will take over ASTRA transponder 30
(11.627 GHz v) on January 1, 1998. The channel will be transmitted in
clear PAL. In addition, five audio subcarriers will be used for ORB
radio channels. In its target region Brandenburg, 65 percent of TV
households are equipped with satellite dishes. ORB has been trying to
get hold of an ASTRA transponder since 1994.
Another regional broadcaster from Germany, Hessen Fernsehen, will
also be launched on ASTRA at the beginning of next year, bringing the
number of regional channels to nine (out of eleven existing) and the
total number of analogue German language channels on ASTRA to 31.


 German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF will launch their events and
documentary channel Phoenix on April 7, six days later than
originally planned. The official reason given for the delay doesn't
sound too convincing  they wanted to offer "interesting
transmissions from the European parliament" on the channel's launch
day. Well, just imagine how exciting the rest will be, then.

 Eye On People, a new entertainment-oriented U.S. cable network
operated by CBS, will launch March 31 with 14 new series and a
nightly live program focusing on people and personalities. 

 MTV's 24-hour music programming channel for Australia will be
launched on March 20. MTV Australia will target the traditional MTV
audience of 18-34 year olds, offering over 120 hours of locally
produced programming per week. 

 DirecTv, the direct-broadcast satellite service, launched last
Tuesday in Chile with more than 50 video channels, 33 audio channels
and 2,000 hours of programming from Latin America, Europe, Asia and
the U.S. 



RUPERTWATCH 
by Dr Sarmaz

TED TURNER  MAN OR MOUSE? TOM OR JERRY?
Rupert Murdoch's arch rival, Ted Turner, is backing the U.S. cable
industry in their fight against 'Death Star,' i.e. the digital
satellite TV venture set up by Mr Murdoch, MCI (to be taken over by
British Telecom,) and Echostar. And once more, Mr Turner, who is also
known as 'the mouth of the south,' linked Mr Murdoch to Adolf Hitler.
That's okay, although he did it a bit more indirectly this time.
"We're going to make it as tough for him as we possibly can," Mr
Turner said in reference to Mr Murdoch's planned Sky service. "Kind
of like the Russian army did with the German army." 
Displaying openly what Europeans regard as typical American
ignorance, Mr Turner proved that he hasn't got too much knowledge of
either what the Russian army did with the German army, what the
German army did with Russian civilians, or what the Russian army did
with German civilians in turn. All of this definitely is nothing that
Mr Turner should crack jokes about as it involves the loss of
millions of human lives.
Probably, Mr Turner seems to have watched a bit too much 'Tom and
Jerry' on his Cartoon Network lately  or has he really run out of
Lithium as Mr Murdoch suggested recently? However, in Europe (and I
include Russia,) such oblivious statements can only be met with total
incomprehension. 
Sorry Ted, I think your mouth was bigger than either your brain or
the historical knowledge that may still be contained in there, in
case you ever had any. I would just say, leave it up to the Russians
and the Germans to get along with their history, and you just keep
out of that, alright? 
I'd vote Mouse anyway. Sorry Ted, that's blown it. Buy that new Bowie
CD and listen to "I'm afraid of Americans." Don't forget to crank up
the volume.



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

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