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Sat-ND, 31.3.97




Sat-ND 97-03-31  Plastic Eggs News

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Sat-ND? Today? No way, I'm still counting plastic eggs and, of course,
the votes in the Email/Web survey. The response quote has reached only 12
percent, but it's my fault, of course  there are no prizes to be won!
Had I promised US$1,000 to the winner of the, um, competition, my IAP's
mail server probably would be down. So, I'm glad I didn't. 
In the meantime, however, here are some contributions by readers. Thanks
George, Jürgen and Richard!



AUSTRALIA: CABLE U-TURN
In a complete U-turn from rumours surrounding Network Sevens' legal
challenge to acquire Optus Vision the matter has been settled with parent
company Optus Communications absorbing Vision. TV networks Seven and Nine
are said to have been paid out with Seven emerging the clear winner. The
other shareholder, US West, has not revealed settlement details which are
believed to be share options in a public float of Optus Comms later in
the year.
In a interview on Channel Nines' Sunday show, Dr Ziggy Switkowski from
Optus Comms painted a bright new future with the way now cleared for a
public float. He also said that Optus are negotiating an accord with
Telstra to stop duplication of cable rollouts (a bit late, they are 90
percent complete) and that the telephony over cable problems were only
software which would be fixed in a matter of weeks with the expertise of
US West. The problems are cable noise and poor quality compressed sound,
both of which require more bandwidth for current technology than the
reverse path can offer. Also mentioned was Internet over cable and
discontinuing the role of a program provider.
I have always found it difficult to juggle massive investment dollars
with five year plans and predicted subscription returns, but it gets
sillier. How does a business with a pay TV arm losing money, telephony
which doesn't work and a dream of Internet over cable which 'might'
impress corporate users justify investment when the infrastructure has
placed them so far in debt that if everything went really well they may
break even in thirty years? Well it seems that the parent company absorbs
them and then floats, for a piece of the good action you also buy a slice
of the bad.
Now don't get this all wrong. Optus has done a great deal of good in Oz
bringing competition and consumer service and discounting. In return for
a protected market (which ends in July) they took on and developed the
domestic satellite system. Optus broke the Telstra monopoly of telephony
and built a viable and competitive GSM digital phone network. Their
blunder has been as the third cable pay TV vendor with premature phone
over coax ambitions. At this stage no matter how much you polish it, it
doesn't shine.
(Geoff Clifton)
[Did I mention that George offers a professional antenna service in
Sydney, Australia? I probably did, but since then two or three more
Australian readers have subscribed to the list who may happen to live in
that area. So, whatever your needs in SMATV, MDS, cable or satellite are,
contact Geoff at gclifton@ozemail.com.au  Ed.]


AFN MOVED TO DIGITAL
Jürgen Bartels has learned some information concerning the European
distribution of American Forces Network radio and TV programming from a
show called Open Line on AFN radio.
The B-MAC TV satellite signal should have been switched off now, MPEG
(PowerVue) is used now for getting the signal across. It was said that
decoders, which may be available later at US$950, utilise a special
descrambling chip. Apart from that, nothing has changed. To receive AFN
TV, you have to be affiliated to the U.S. military somehow (no, sorry,
it's not sufficient to be a U.S. citizen who happens to live in Europe.
As U.S. programming providers make 70 percent of their money by selling
broadcasting rights abroad, they just don't want anybody to watch the
original.) 
Just as B-MAC, MPEG also seems to be prone to short transmission
interruptions although, of course, they're working on it. It seems that
the MPEG package also contains four radio channels, one of which will be
carrying National Public Radio (NPR.) Besides, preparations are underway
to enable full AFN reception on ships where currently just one radio
channel is available which is transmitted in the L-band.
[As this is not a full-blown issue of Sat-ND, I refrain from asking
questions such as what the U.S. military is still doing in Europe even
though I know the answer. Besides, discussing that topic may hurt some
people's religious feelings even more than my remarks on plastic eggs.
And I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, do I? ;-)  Ed.]


DIGITAL WONDERB... B... BOX
Well, the easiest way to stay away from any trouble involving digital
receivers is not to buy one at all. That's what billions of people all
over the world do. They either can't afford it or they just couldn't care
less about TV for the rich, and besides: as I frequently pointed out,
television is a pointless waste of time in any case. Looking out of any
window definitely is more entertaining; let's hope that this favourite
pastime of bygone decades will finally see its renaissance.
I'm pretty aware of the fact that 99 out of 100 readers have become
non-readers in the meantime who instead decided to check what's on TV.
Too bad because Richard Karlsson has sent me this URL (Leo Kirch will not
be amused:)
http://www.eurosat.com/digital/d-box.html



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

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