Sat-ND 97-06-10 - Always Bumping Into Things
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* CHINA BACK IN LAUNCH BUSINESS?
* WORLDSPACE FINDS RADIO SET MANUFACTURERS
* CONFUSING SALES TACTICS
* RUPERT QUICKY
FEEDS & LINKS
* CHANNEL ONE SUBSCRIBES TO WTN
LAW & ORDER
* EUROPE'S NEW TELEVISION WITHOUT FRONTIERS
FEEDBACK: SAT-ND, 9.6.97
CHINA BACK IN LAUNCH BUSINESS?
The matter was so important that Chinese Premier Li Peng repeatedly
inquired about its progress. It's likely that he will be satisfied with the
China has successfully launched its indigenous FENGYUN 2 weather satellite,
the first to be placed in a geostationary orbit, aboard a Long March 3
According to Xinhua, the satellite is equipped with a scanning radiometer,
cloud coverage information system and a data collection translator,
whatever that maybe. Positioned at 105 deg. East, the spacecraft can
provide cloud maps and information on temperature and wind movements over
China and its neighbouring countries. Weighing 1.38 tonnes, FENGYUN 2 has a
life expectancy of three years.
Li Peng's interest, however, probably was not so much focused on the
prospect of more accurate weather reports but on the performance of the
Long March launcher. It did well, actually, even for a second time in a
row. A few weeks ago, it put China's DFH 3 telecommunications satellite in
orbit. Both launches were regarded as crucial in China's attempt to regain
the confidence of commercial launch services customers in the aftermath of
several spectacular launch failures.
According to earlier statements, China will now take up commercial launches
again. China Aerospace Corp plans to use the Long March rocket for more
than 30 commercial satellite launches over the next four years.
WORLDSPACE FINDS RADIO SET MANUFACTURERS
WorldSpace Inc. issued a lengthy press release today that contained just
one interesting sentence:
"Hitachi Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.(Panasonic), Sanyo
Technosound Co., Ltd. (subsidiary of Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.), and Victor
Company of Japan, Limited (JVC) today announced that they have agreed with
WorldSpace to develop and mass produce a new kind of portable radio that
will be able to receive large numbers of broadcast programs direct from
As frequently reported, WorldSpace will deliver digital radio broadcasts to
Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean using three
geostationary satellites. The receiver deal actually was the cornerstone of
the venture. WorldSpace, founded in 1990, has won regulatory approval for
its satellites from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission as well as
from the authorities of Trinidad and Tobago and Australia. The satellites
have been ordered from France's Alcatel Espace while Arianespace will
provide launch services. Two million highly-specialised decoder chips
needed for the receiver sets will be supplied by the European companies
SGS-Thomson (France) and ITT Intermetall (Germany.) The compression
technology was developed by Germany's Fraunhofer-Instititut.
Today's announcement is remarkable in two ways. Firstly, Washington, D.C.
based WorldSpace seems to be co-operating exclusively with non-U.S.
companies even though in the early stages of the venture, Motorola Inc. was
given the job of developing the digital transmission system. (I don't know
why they didn't in the end.) European and Japanese companies seem to be a
bit more convinced of the WorldSpace project that might not only replace
the short-wave band as the dominant carrier for international radio
broadcasters but also offer a wide range of new services ranging from
multimedia to individual paging.
Secondly, there's no word yet about the pricing of the receiver although
this is probably the most important issue. As the service primarily targets
less developed regions of the world, much depends on whether a WorldSpace
receiver will be affordable to the vast share of the potential audience.
Regarding earlier statements by WorldSpace, this will not be the case as
the set could cost as much as US$200 initially. The price is expected to
drop soon once mass production is in full swing, but it remains to be seen
whether WorldSpace can actually cross that threshold.
Further details: http://www.worldspace.com/ or TELE-satellite International
3-4/97, p. 242 ;-)
by Dr Sarmaz
CONFUSING SALES TACTICS
Talking of Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers: Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co. today announced it was planning to sell antennas and set-top
boxes for the Japanese satellite broadcasting venture JSkyB which was set
up by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. This comes as no surprise as Matsushita
is not only supplying Mr Murdoch's digital satellite TV venture in the UK,
BIB, with hardware but has also taken a significant stake in it.
Interestingly, Matsushita is not involved with JSkyB that besides Mr
Murdoch's News Corp. comprises Japan's Softbank Corp, Sony Corp and Fuji
Television Network. Sony reportedly hasn't even decided whether to sell
antennas or set-top boxes for the JSkyB. Matsushita, better known under
brand names such as National, Technics and -- hang on, I'll just have a
quick look at my camcorder -- Panasonics in contrast already sells
equipment for JSkyB's rivals PerfecTV and DirecTV. Sony just sells
equipment for PerfecTV in Japan and, even more confusingly, for DirecTV in
* Mr Murdoch's News Corp. has countersued EchoStar Communications Corp.
which is seeking US$5 billion in damages from its former partner for
backing out of its contract to merge their direct-broadcast-satellite
interests. News Corp. has refused all allegations and now charges EchoStar
with bad faith, misconduct and failure to disclose material information.
FEEDS & LINKS
CHANNEL ONE SUBSCRIBES TO WTN
Worldwide Television News Corporation (WTN) announced today that the
Channel One Network has renewed its subscription to WTN's satellite news
services through the turn of the century. Under the agreement, Channel One
Network receives WTN Daily Satellite News Service which includes video of
breaking international news events, entertainment and sports news from
across the globe.
Channel One Network claims to be "the leading provider of television news
and educational programming to America's secondary schools." In fact, it
objects teachers and pupils not only to a TV service that has been heavily
criticised for being biased but also to commercials.
WTN is a leading international television news and broadcast services
company, providing news, sports and entertainment coverage along with
technical and production support to more that 1,000 broadcasters
world-wide. It is primarily owned by ABC Inc. (The Walt Disney Company.)
LAW & ORDER
EUROPE'S NEW TELEVISION WITHOUT FRONTIERS
The European Parliament has passed the EU directive concerning "Television
without frontiers" today. The regulation will ensure that important sports
events may not be covered exclusively on pay-TV.
There is an enormous list of buts, anyway. First of all, this does not
exclude live coverage on pay-TV and delayed rebroadcast on free-to-air
channels. This is, however, what Europe's media conglomerates will be doing
anyway -- the very purpose of digital pay-TV here is to better exploit
broadcasting right, after all.
Each member of the EU will have to submit a list of events considered
important. This is easy for more or less centralised countries such as the
UK or France which in fact already have presented their lists. It's almost
impossible in a federal state such as Germany where no less that 16
regional governments have to agree upon such a list (the German
constitution leaves cultural issues, and TV ironically still is regarded as
such, up to the country's federal states.)
Countries such as France suffered a defeat in their struggle to restrain
U.S. dominance on European TV screens. The new rules call for a 50 percent
quota of European productions on TV "whenever possible" -- but who's going
to decide upon what's possible or not?
The remaining parts of the ruling are more or less of an entertaining
nature. There will be an "acoustic or visual" sign preceding broadcasts
that contain violence or pornography. (Beep, beep!) Issues such as the
introduction of a V-chip (a built-in device that disables the reception of
programming unsuitable to minors) or the regulation of shopping channels
will obviously be left to the national governments.
FEEDBACK: Sat-ND, 9.6.97
I quoted an Arianespace press release claiming that INMARSAT 3-F4 "provides
a capacity of 150 30-GHz channels." This is, as Jim Hollansworth noted, of
course complete rubbish. "You can't have 150 channels with that bandwidth,
and I did not know of any satellite for mobile use operating at 30 GHz yet.
Can you clarify?"
Not really. What's available from Inmarsat on their Web site
(http://www.inmarsat.org/) is this: The satellites use the L-band for
satellite-to-mobile services (uplink: 1.6 GHz, downlink: 1.5 GHz.) The
INMARSAT 3 series of satellites offers up to 2,000 channels of simultaneous
voice channel capacity. That's as far as it goes, I'm afraid. Please direct
your complaints at the Arianespace public relations department, not to me
Copyright (c) 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights
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