Sat-ND, 19.6.97

Sat-ND 97-06-19 - I think we'll have port with the fruit

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*** Sat-ND summer break: June 24 - July 9, 1997 ***



PanAmSat Corporation announced today that it has signed an agreement with
Arianespace to launch a new PanAmSat satellite in early 1999. 
The new launch, which was exercised as part of a previously signed
multi-launch agreement between the companies, will take place on an Ariane
launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.
PanAmSat intends to use the launch for its second HS 702 satellite, built
by Hughes Space and Communications Co. PanAmSat is currently determining
the communications payload and expected orbital location for the satellite.
The HS 702 is Hughes' next-generation satellite and offers the highest
transmissions power available on any commercial spacecraft. PanAmSat plans
to launch its first HS 702 satellite, called Galaxy XI, in 1998. 
PanAmSat plans to launch seven more satellites, including PAS-6, PAS-7 and
Galaxy XI, by late 1998. The next launch will deploy the PAS-5 Atlantic
Ocean Region satellite in July 1997. 
Following this 9th launch agreement this year, Arianespace has 44
satellites on order to be launched, firming what the company called its
leading position in the international market for commercial satellite
launch services. 


The Aerospace Corp. has announced the establishment of a centre dedicated
to the analysis of space object collision avoidance and the re-entry of
space debris into the Earth's atmosphere. The Aerospace Center for Orbital
and Reentry Debris Studies (ACORDS) will try to identify ways to limit the
risk orbiting objects pose to satellites and manned space vehicles, as well
as ways to reduce the chance that objects re-entering the atmosphere will
fall in populated areas. 
Recent on-orbit collisions and re-entry incidents highlight the need to
address issues relating to risks from orbital debris. Aerospace scientists
and engineers supporting the new centre will work to develop techniques to
reduce the potential of on-orbit collisions and re-entry impacts. 
"As nations of the world continue to place more and more satellites in
orbit, the number of objects circling the globe presents a growing hazard
to other spacecraft," said Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge Jr, president and CEO
of The Aerospace Corp. "We need reliable means to reduce these risks. Our
new centre will focus on developing the necessary tools." 
More than 8,000 tracked objects representing a mass of over 3 million
kilograms are orbiting the Earth today, along with many more objects that
are too small to be tracked. The centre will develop the means necessary to
provide improved warning of such hazards, making it possible for mission
planners to adjust launch times and flight profiles to reduce the
possibility of collisions in space. Provided with adequate information,
operators will also be able to adjust the orbit of a satellite to avoid a
There's another significant problem in conjunction with space junk, and
that's the growing number of objects that survive re-entering the
atmosphere without being incinerated. In January a 225-kg stainless steel
fuel tank landed 30 metres from a home in Texas, while a 30-kg titanium
tank fell 320 kilometres away. The materials came from a booster launched
in April 1996. 
"We have known for years that major pieces of space hardware will survive
re-entry," said Aldridge. "The Texas events confirm the need to more
accurately predict when and where objects will re-enter and to understand
how they will break apart during re-entry. The new centre will provide the
answers and identify ways to increase the probability that objects will
burn up completely or not otherwise pose a risk to people or property when
they re-enter the atmosphere." 
The centre will be headed by Dr. William H. Ailor who has served on
national panels investigating the problems associated with the re-entry of
objects into the atmosphere. Good luck, and congratulations to Aerospace
Corp anyway: There's an enormous business out there -- if they come up with
the right solutions, that is.


Orion Network Systems, Inc. announced today that it is providing 8Mbps of
Internet access augmenting the Central and Eastern European Internet
backbone for Ebone Inc., the primary backbone service in Europe tying
together 31 countries with over 75 major Internet service providers (ISPs).
The contract establishes a direct 8Mbps link between the United States
Internet backbone and the Ebone node in Vienna, Austria. 
Orion's WorldCast service provides a turn-key solution for international
ISPs and multinational corporations requiring access to the U.S. part of
the Internet where 80 percent of the Internet's "content" resides. [To call
that "content" like Orion did in its press release, sometimes is a gross
exaggeration.] Orion's end-to-end solution includes Internet access, a hub
earth station for transmitting U.S. based Internet information, satellite
space segment and very small aperture terminals (VSATS) for receiving data
at each customer location. 
WorldCast provides Ebone a hybrid asymmetrical network complementing
Ebone's existing terrestrial network. Since Internet traffic between Europe
and the U.S. is typically asymmetric with a ratio between 2:1 and 4:1 of
information traveling from the U.S. to Europe, WorldCast is ideally suited
for routing this traffic. Requests for information from Ebone end-users in
Central and Eastern Europe utilize small amounts of bandwidth and are
carried via terrestrial lines. Requested information returns to the Vienna
Ebone node via 8Mbps of access over the ORION 1 satellite and delivered
directly through a 2.4m dish. 
Ebone is a European Internet backbone supplier for Internet protocol (IP)
networks currently represented in 31 countries and connecting more than 75
ISPs. Established as an association to provide global Internet access,
Ebone develops and operates high-quality, non-overbooked, low-cost services
for its members. Today, Ebone operates a backbone built on El, E3, T3,
STM-1 and this 8Mbps WorldCast connection with points of presence (PoPs) in
Paris, Stockholm, Vienna, London, Frankfurt, Munich, Geneva and Amsterdam. 

JVC, the inventors of VHS, announced the launch of the HM-DSR100 Digital
Satellite Recorder, developed in co-operation with EchoStar Communications
Corporation, and featuring a new (of course "revolutionary") digital bit
stream recording technology called D-VHS. This new product's single unit
design incorporates both a DBS tuner and a D-VHS recorder. 
In addition, conventional analogue VHS is incorporated, allowing users to
continue to enjoy the enormous VHS tape library they may have accumulated
(but never ever watched -- I know what I'm talking about) over the years
and maintain access to the vast VHS infrastructure comprised of over 600
million units world-wide. MPEG2 (Moving Picture Experts Group) is expected
to become the mainstream technology for digital moving images. The
HM-DSR100 allows digital bit stream recording of DISH Network's digital
MPEG2 signal, in its original digital state, with original picture quality
maintained. D/A conversion occurs only when the recording is played back,
in order to transform the digital data into a video signal that will be
recognisable to household TVs. 
The HM-DSR100 is equipped with the D-VHS STD mode which has a fixed bit
rate of 14.1 Mbps, providing ample headroom in relation to the bit rate of
digital broadcasts. Users will be able to record the MPEG2-2 signal sent
from EchoStar's DISH Network satellite with no degradation in quality. 
In my humble opinion, it's just make-believe. Digitally compressed
transmissions offer just the usual VHS quality anyway, so why bother
recording it digitally? The main point is by no means that the signal is
digital. Just forget about that! The main point is that the signal is
compressed, meaning that details allegedly invisible to the naked eye are
omitted in order to save transmission bandwidth. 
JVC claims that digital recording offers the advantage of recording various
sub data signals that are beamed along with the main program by the
broadcaster. These may include Dolby Digital (AC-3) encoding, as well as
program guides and other information. [Oh darling! Let's have a look at the
Christmas 1996 program guide, shall we? How exciting!]
The capacity of a single cassette won't be increased too much. In
MPEG-mode, cassettes that after all are still being developed will offer
seven hours of recording time as compared to five hours available with
analogue VHS. 
Want my advice? Simply forget it all. You'll suffer no quality loss
whatsoever when recording digitally compressed programming on simple
analogue VHS tape, in case you're prepared to let go of gimmicks such as
Dolby AC-3, recorded program guides, etc. Prove me wrong! In case you have
too much money, though, you may be more than happy to shell out some
US$1,000 for the HM-DSR100DU which comes with a dual LNBF dish in its
standard accessory package. The HM-DSR100RU, a stand-alone unit which does
not include a dish antenna, will be advertised in the U.S. for about
US$950. Both units will be available in October 1997.


PanAmSat Corporation announced today that Buena Vista Television is using
PanAmSat's GALAXY IV satellite for distribution of syndicated programming
throughout the United States. In addition, Vista Satellite Communications,
Inc., and Vyvx, Inc., have extended their long-term service agreements for
transponder capacity on PanAmSat's GALAXY VI satellite. Vyvx also has
increased its capacity on GALAXY VI from one transponder to two. 
Buena Vista Television is using one C-band transponder on GALAXY IV, an HS
601 spacecraft with 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders. Buena Vista
joins CBS and other broadcasters who have established GALAXY IV as a
leading satellite for the distribution of network and syndicated
programming to television stations throughout the United States. Disney
currently uses PanAmSat satellite capacity for programming distribution in
various markets around the world. 
Vista has extended its long-term agreement to use three GALAXY VI
transponders for full-time and occasional video, backhaul and video
conferencing services. Vyvx will use its two GALAXY VI transponders to
provide full-time network distribution and occasional video services.
GALAXY VI, an HS 376 satellite, contains 24 C-band transponders and
provides coverage of the continental United States. 

Telecommunication service in Beijing is well-equipped and ready for the
relay of the capital city's celebrations of Hong Kong's return to mainland
China, as Xinhua reported.
Officials with the Beijing Telecommunication Bureau said China will use no
less than 13 communication satellites over the Asia and Pacific region to
broadcast the celebration activities. Additional equipment has been shipped
in from Shanghai, Guangzhou, and other parts of China. Beijing's satellite
transmission capacity has also been expanded miraculously but Xinhua chose
not to elaborate.
So far, about 29 television stations and news agencies -- reportedly even
from Taiwan -- want to rent satellite feeds to relay the celebration
* An incomplete line stolen from "Dinner for One, or: The 90th
Anniversary," a sketch by British comedian Freddy Frinton that inexplicably
has become a new year's eve cult in Germany (it was recorded back in the
fifties by the North German pubcaster NDR; not only in black & white but
also in its original language, i.e. English. For some 40 years or more, it
has been broadcast at the end of each year by most regional public stations
in Germany.) The plot is extremely simple: A butler, played by Frinton, has
to stand in for long-deceased friends of his mistress Miss Sophie on the
occasion of her 90th anniversary -- in every aspect. Ssskolll! Sorry for
this lengthy explanation. What's it all got to do with China and Hong Kong?
Think, I say, think!
(Full text, HTML 3.0 or better required:


In the United Arab Emirates, Al-Thurayya Space Communication Co. has been
formally established as a joint-stock company with a capital of 91.75
million dirhams (US$25 million). It will be in charge of designing,
developing, manufacturing, and operating the planned telecommunications
satellite system THURAYYA.
The largest single shareholder is Etisalat, the United Arab Emirates'
state-owned communications provider with 34.5 percent, followed by the Abu
Dhabi Investment Co., ADIC, which will hold 20 percent. Other shareholders
include Arabsat, the Bahrain Telecommunications Authority, Kuwait Mobile
Communications, and the Qatar Public Communications Corp., with 10 percent
each. Dubai Investment Co. will hold 5 percent, and Daticon of Germany 0.5

Australis Media has asked its major shareholders to provide extra funding
as talks on rationalising or even merging the Australian pay-TV scene so
far failed to produce any results. The need for more money was caused by a
recent decision Supreme Court decision that scrapped Australis' satellite
joint venture with pay TV competitor Optus Communications.
Documents filed by Australis to the Australian Stock Exchange state that
"If the company does not establish the DTH satellite joint venture on or
prior to July 1, 1997, [...] the company expects to require significant
additional capital or other funding prior to the time it begins to generate
positive cash flow." Should main shareholders Kerry Packer and the U.S.
based company Lenfest fail to provide additional funding, that "would
significantly affect the company's ability to continue as a going concern."
That situation would occur by August 1997, as observers expect. Australis
said in a statement that funding was well available into 1998. However, the
company is not only eating into its fund by A$6 million per month but also
has to pay back A$800 million in debt.
Meanwhile, the merger talks between the three Australian pay-TV services
Australis, Optus Vision and Foxtel are reportedly going on.


The 15 million members of the USA's largest Protestant church were advised
by their religious leaders, to be exact: some 12,000 delegates of the
Southern Baptist Convention held in Dallas, Texas, neither to watch ABC nor
to buy Mickey Mouse comics because the second largest media company in the
world, Disney/ABC, in their view is "increasingly promoting immoral
ideologies such as homosexuality, infidelity and adultery." In other words,
Disney finally acknowledges that "there's more to love than boy meets girl"
(to quote a musically rather poor song by either The Communards or Jimmy
Sommerville, I just can't remember, and who cares anyway.)
The convention voted to boycott more than 100 media and entertainment
properties owned by the Walt Disney Co., including movies, videos, cable
channels, book publishers, newspapers, consumer and trade magazines,
television and radio stations, broadcast networks and theme parks.
Representatives of the church expressed distinct discomfort in Disney's
offering health benefits to partners of gay employees, gay events held at
Disney World and the Disney-owned ABC television network airing "Ellen," a
sitcom in which the title character realised that she is a lesbian.
(Observers noted that without a spectacular twist like that the show
would've been scrapped rather sooner than later.)
A Disney spokesperson said the company was under the impression it was
already being boycotted by the organisation, which passed a similar
resolution at its convention last year.

As Japan's Kyodo news agency reports, Authorities in Shanghai, China, have
put a ban on Japan Satellite Broadcasting Inc.'s  TV channel WOWOW on
grounds of copyright and content issues. Although targeted at Japan,
satellite spill-over enables reception of the channel in parts of China and
Korea. A quite expensive decoder is needed, however. Shanghai Hotels and
foreigners living in especially designated apartment blocks were urged to
voluntarily turn their decoders over to the authorities. Whosoever does not
comply will be penalised, authorities indicated. 
For Western observers, it will probably stay a mystery what caused this
latest move against the free flow of information or, in this case,
entertainment such as movies, sports and adult late-night programs that may
be considered pornographic by the Chinese. Obviously, the channel had been
illegally rebroadcast in cable networks, which explains the copyright bit
but not the ban of individual reception.
Other (unencrypted) channels such as Japan's NHK, U.S. channels CNN and HBO
as well as Germany's Deutsche Welle TV are not affected by the move and may
still be received by foreigners in Shanghai. (It's different for Chinese
viewers. In theory, there is a general ban of satellite dishes that
according to earlier reports is handled differently in various regions of
the country.)
* Headline once more stolen from a Joe Jackson song

by Dr Sarmaz

Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that the planned joint venture
British Digital Broadcasting (BDB) may run into troubles getting its
desired terrestrial broadcasting license. Almost immediately, the
equivalent of more than US$1 billion got wiped out -- if not from the face
of the Earth, at least from the value of Rupert Murdoch's British Sky
Broadcasting Group (BSkyB) traded at the London stock exchange. 
Today, the Times reported that Mr Murdoch's partners in BDB, Carlton
Communications Plc and Granada Group Plc were negotiating to buy BSkyB's
stake in BDB -- probably in an emergency move that is supposed save what
can be saved. The whole BDB venture, which combines terrestrial
distribution with bandwidth-saving digital video compression technology, is
actually a bit rich as BSkyB is by far the UK's dominant satellite
broadcaster whilst Carlton and Granada are the two biggest independent
terrestrial companies. 
The UK's licensing body, the Independent Television Commission, nonetheless
said the reports were "speculation." [That does not mean, of course, that
they're unfounded.]

Copyright (c) 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights

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