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Sat-ND, 29.3.97




Sat-ND 97-03-29 - Satellite and Media News

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SURVEY
Thanks a lot to everybody who responded to my question whether Sat-ND
should continue as an Email-based service or switch to the Web. The plain
figures aren't too surprising. Of those who responded, roughly 90 percent
prefer Email.
But who did respond? So far, 130 of Sat-ND's almost 1,500 subscribers 
not even 10 percent. Does that mean that over 90 percent of subscribers
don't care anyway, or does it just mean that they don't read this stuff
anyway? (Well, okay, we have this plastic eggs feast in some parts of the
world right now.)
Anyway, lines are still open, and I do appreciate any comment. I will
redirect any direct answer to this issue (i.e., Email with the subject
line 'Re: Sat-ND, 29.3.97') to my survey folder.
Many of you have written in with some interesting ideas, suggestions,
praise (I'm flattered, believe me *blush*) and questions. I don't know
yet whether this will affect Sat-ND, but it will surely affect the FAQ
page on the WWW ;-) I cannot answer every comment directly, I'm afraid.
There will be a general summary, though.
But back to business. The comet is high and shining (no reason to commit
suicide by the way; there is no UFO hidden behind its enormous... er...
tail?!;) DMX's Alternative Rock channel is pretty good today, Windows 95
has correctly switched to Central European Summer Time, and I even found
some news items despite that plastic egg craze. Here they are.



CYBERBRIDGESKYWAY
It's not exactly one of those strategic alliances. In fact, U.S. company
Loral Space & Communications and France's Alcatel-Alstholm have been
co-operating on some projects in the past (such as INTELSAT satellites,
cf. Sat-ND 26.3.97) -- so what?
Both companies seem to be willing to combine their next-generation
satellite systems SkyBridge and Cyberstar (what a pathetic name, by the
way.) It is unclear whether there will be a co-operation on a technical
basis: Alcatel's SkyBridge utilises 64 low-earth orbit (LEO) satelites
while Loral's Cyberstar system comprises four geostationary earth orbit
(GEO) satellites. 
The will be a financial co-operation, though. Loral seems poised to
become a major partner in the US$3.9 billion SkyBridge system while
Alcatel at the same time reportedly has agreed to become an equity
investor in Loral's proposed US$2 billion Cyberstar system.
Of course, both proposed systems operate in the Ka-band, and it seems
that an integrated system is what both companies are hoping for. From a
technical point of view, it doesn't make too much sense yet, regarding
the fundamental differences in receiving LEO and GEO satellites. However,
the Wall Street Journal reported that such a combined system was planned
to become operational between 2000 and 2002. We'll see.


ORION'S NEW CUSTOMERS
Now was that a bargain? Orion Network Systems Inc., known as the operator
of ORION 1, acquired German-based Teleport Europe GmbH, a communications
company specialising in private satellite networks for voice and data
services. By paying just US$9 million, Orion got some new, high-profile
customers such as Volkswagen, BASF and Bertelsmann. It will also Teleport
Europe's licenses and operating agreements to provide satellite network
services in 40 countries. They include 17 countries in which Orion did
not provide service so far.


TELKOM TO REPLACE PALAPA
Usually, satellite purchases are announced in press releases. Not in this
case: an executive of Indonesia's state-owned PT Telekomunikasi (Telkom)
told Dow Jones that the company will buy a satellite from Lockheed Martin
Corp. that will take up service in late 1998 or early 1999 under the name
of TELKOM 1. Both spacecraft and launch will cost some US$200 million,
the news agency reported. It even went as far as saying that a contract
has already been signed. 
I will not undertake any effort to explain this. In my archive, I found
references to at least three Indonesian satellite companies and even more
projects. Sorry, this is just too confusing and definitely beyond my
capabilities. TELKOM 1, however, will have 36 Ku-band transponders and
replace a PALAPA satellite that will come to the end of its life span in
1999.


CBS' LONG-TIME PERSPECTIVE
Yet another cable network will launch in the USA on Monday: Eye On
People, set up by CBS, will reach just two million U.S. TV households.
Officials don't seem to care that this figure is even half a million
short of what was expected internally. CBS Cable executive vice president
Lloyd Werner was quoted as saying that a glut of cable networks vying for
cable system space made it difficult to sign carriage agreements with
operators. He added it could take ten to twelve years before the channel
becomes profitable. (Will we still be watching any TV by then? I doubt
it, in a way.)


ROMANIA JOINS EURONEWS
The state-run television of Romania will become the 18th shareholder of
Secemie, a holding of broadcasters that controls the pan-European news
channel Euronews. No financial details were given by Euronews. 


NO STATE LOAN FOR LEO
Germany's Mini-Murdoch Leo Kirch has given up plans to finance his
ventures by a DM1-billion loan partly provided by a Bavarian state run
bank. "We can do without that subjective discussion about a confidential
piece of business," snubbed Kirch group manager Dieter Hahn. "We won't
have any problems to finance our business otherwise," another spokesman
said. He added that the plans for future developments of Kirch Group
remained unaffected by the decision.



RUPERTWATCH by Dr Sarmaz
KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has confirmed it was in talks with
International Family Entertainment to buy a stake in the company's
subsidiary, The Family Channel. Reports suggest that Mr Murdoch is
seeking a 40 percent stake in the channel that would give him another
outlet for his Fox Kids Network programming. Fox Kids, a children's cable
network, is slated for launch next year. Other companies such as NBC and
CBS are also rumoured to be looking at a stake in the Family Channel.



GOLDEN WORDS
"March into outer space for peace and development." 
Isn't that nice? That's what Qiao Shi, chairman of the Standing Committee
of the National People's Congress of China, left in the guest book of
France's National Centre of Space Study in Toulouse while visiting it
yesterday.



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

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