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Sat-ND, 3.8.97




Sat-ND, 03.08.97 -- How bizarre, how bizarre 
  
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 Copyright 1997 by Sat-ND 
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Today's Headlines
LAUNCHES 
OrbView 2 launched 
Thor III on Delta II 
Telesat supports Mabuhay 
SATELLITES 
Mooo! Cows and satellites -- finally 
Iridium sends signals 
Inmarsat-3 series complete 
CHANNELS 
ANN -- more than just a news channel 
UK Home and Gardening 
SuperCableStation 
Discovery on PAS-5 
BUSINESS 
Lockheed's 'Power Center' 
LAW & ORDER 
The Lebanon goes cable 
New Zealand, can you hear me? 
More commercial blurb on TV screens 
DIGITAL 
Spanish digital wars continue 
Kirch Group favours porn on pay-TV 


Editorial note
No, this is no regular Sat-ND yet. And sorry, I haven't answered most 
email inquiries yet. However, it seems that the worst is over now, so 
Sat-ND will hopefully return to normal operation by Thursday or so. 


LAUNCHES
OrbView 2 launched
A Pegasus XL rocket successfully delivered the OrbView-2 multi-
spectral imaging satellite into its targeted low-Earth orbit. Initial 
communications were established with the OrbView-2 satellite 
approximately 25 minutes after it separated from Pegasus, with initial 
data indicating that the satellite's main systems are operating as 
expected. 
Over the next several weeks, Orbital will conduct more extensive 
spacecraft checkout procedures on the OrbView-2 satellite. During that 
same period, OrbView-2 will propel itself from its initial parking 
orbit to its final operational altitude by using onboard hydrazine 
propulsion. The spacecraft will then be prepared to collect imagery 
for commercial and scientific purposes. 
OrbView-2 was built by Orbital at its Dulles, Va. and Germantown, Md. 
spacecraft manufacturing facilities, and will be operated by Orbimage, 
the company's Earth-imaging satellite services subsidiary. It is the 
world's first privately owned satellite to provide multispectral (
colour) images of the Earth's ocean and land surfaces that will be 
used by commercial customers and scientific researchers. OrbView-2 
carries the eight-channel SeaWiFS instrument, built by GM/Hughes 
Electronics Corp., that produces these high-quality images. 

Thor III on Delta II
McDonnell Douglas has been awarded a contract to launch Telenor of 
Norway's Thor III communications satellite in July 1998 on a Delta II 
expendable rocket. The order was announced by the satellite's 
manufacturer, Hughes Space and Communications International, Inc., and 
its operator Telenor. 
The launch will support an August on-orbit delivery to Telenor, which 
will use Thor III to expand its services to European television 
markets. The satellite initially will have 14 active Ku-band 
transponders to provide direct-to-home television programming to the 
Scandinavian countries and to the nations of central and eastern 
Europe. 
Like its predecessors in the Thor series, Thor III has an estimated 
life span of 11 years. It will join Thor II, launched May 20 of this 
year from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla., and Thor I, which was 
boosted into orbit in August 1990. Thor II provides up to 75 digital 
TV channels to the Telenor system, and Thor I currently serves more 
than 750,000 customers with dish antennas and additional cable TV 
viewers throughout Scandinavia. 
McDonnell Douglas is the world's largest builder of military aircraft, 
and the third largest commercial aircraft manufacturer (and tomorrow, 
August 4, will officially complete its merger with Boeing Co.) 

Telesat supports Mabuhay
Telesat Canada signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Mabuhay 
Philippines Satellite Corporation (MPSC) for project management and 
engineering consulting services and the provision of Telesat's Flight 
Dynamics System (FDS) for the Agila-3 broadcast and communications 
satellite. 
Telesat Canada already had been awarded a contract in 1995 to provide 
technical consulting services for the design, construction, launch and 
in-orbit testing of the Agila-2 satellite including technical training 
to MPSC engineers in the area of satellite operations and control. The 
Agila-2 satellite, an FS1300 spacecraft, will... okay, may be launched 
the first week of August on-board a Chinese Long March Vehicle. Agila-
2 will be the largest spacecraft in the FS1300 series both in overall 
dimension and total number of active communications transponders. 
"Agila-3 will be the third multi-purpose communications satellite 
already on the drawing boards of MPSC together with a series of 
satellites planned up to the year 2000. On the eve of the launching of 
Agila-2, we are already moving ahead to provide the critical support 
structure for Agila-3. We look forward to having Telesat Canada aboard 
on this project," said Cesar G. Reyes, President of MPSC. 
Telesat is Canada's satellite communications company, providing 
telecommunications and broadcast distribution services throughout 
North America. Established in 1969, Telesat sees itself as a world 
leader in satellite communications and systems management, exporting 
its capabilities to more than 20 countries around the globe. 
Mabuhay Philippines Satellite Corporation (MPSC) is responsible for 
the installation, operation and maintenance of the Agila satellite 
system. Its objective is to meet the requirements of the Philippine 
telecommunications market and that of Southeast Asia, mainland China, 
the Indian subcontinent and the Pacific Rim. 


SATELLITES
Mooo! Cows and satellites -- finally
Meet Marguerite and Claudie, two attractive cows who live on a 
mountainside 1.1 kilometres up near Clermont-Ferrand in central France.
 Together with a mare [a female horse] called Garance, they will write 
science history as they are part of an unprecedented experiment to 
monitor grazing from space. 
Satellite beacons strapped to the hides of Marguerite, Claudie and 
Garance enable computer-based herdsmen to see whether animals are 
better than machines or chemicals at clearing mountain pastures. 
The transmitters show the animals' position to about 10 feet every 
five seconds. 
The animals are among 36 cows and 12 horses in two separate herds in 
the area being used in the experiment by the National Institute of 
Agronomic Research (INRA.) 
"This will allow us to see if cows and horses are complementary in 
their grazing habits," said NRA researcher Didier Micol. 
Farmers have steadily abandoned such upland areas as unprofitable. 
Micol said it would be impossible for human herdsmen to keep such 
close track of the animals there. "We thought of putting solar panels 
on the cows instead of using batteries for the satellite beacons, but 
it was too difficult," he added. 
Unfortunately, news reports did not elaborate on the satellite system 
that is going to be used -- it's either UDDERTRACS or UDDERSAT, I 
guess. 

Iridium sends signals
The first Iridium system satellite-to-ground mobile paging and radio 
communications links have been established by Motorola, making them 
the first such transmissions to be conducted by a low-earth orbit, 
mobile satellite communications system. 
On July 3, an Iridum satellite transmitted hundreds of messages to 
prototype pagers during a pass over Motorola's Satellite 
Communications Group (SCG) Chandler facility. The first links between 
the satellite and Iridium prototype phone handsets were made July 7. [
It took those guys quite a while to tell the public.] 
The satellite-to-ground links originated from an Iridium satellite 
launched on May 5. The satellite transmitted programmed, alphanumeric 
messages to the prototype pagers. The pagers are being designed by 
Motorola's Messaging Systems Products Group. The signals transmitted 
to the prototype phones were ring channel bursts signals that will 
enable Iridium subscriber handsets to locate and acquire a satellite 
to initiate and receive voice, data and fax messages. The handsets 
will look for a ring channel burst every time they are activated. 

Inmarsat-3 series complete
The fourth satellite in the Inmarsat-3 series, one of the world's most 
advanced communications spacecraft, entered service on schedule on 
July 26, completing the third generation Inmarsat system. 
With the activation of the satellite's global beam, Inmarsat's 
commercial maritime, aeronautical and land mobile communications 
systems will benefit from increased capacity. The new satellite is 
already carrying traffic for these systems. In about a week, the 
satellite's spotbeams will be activated, bringing virtual global 
coverage for Inmarsat's new lightweight portable satellite phone. 
Inmarsat-3 F4, launched aboard an Ariane 4 rocket from Kourou, French 
Guiana on June 3, has replaced Inmarsat's previous generation Atlantic 
Ocean West region satellite, now a system backup 
The spacecraft reached its on-station location of 54 degrees west on 
Thursday, July 24. Inmarsat's network operations centre in London then 
spent two days making final adjustments to the satellite to ensure a 
smooth transition into service. 
On July 26, the network operations centre directed each of the seven 
land earth stations in the Atlantic Ocean West region to steer their 
antennas away from the former satellite towards the new Inmarsat-3 F4. 
The fifth and final satellite in the Inmarsat-3 series will be 
launched on an Ariane 4 rocket from Kourou. The satellite will serve 
as a spare for the Inmarsat constellation, expanding system capacity 
and enabling Inmarsat to lease any excess space segment. Liftoff is 
scheduled for December. 
Inmarsat-3 has enabled the introduction of the Inmarsat-phone a range 
of satellite phones smaller than an A4 laptop computer, with advanced 
features found in cellular systems such as smart cards and in future, 
short message service and voice-mail. Inmarsat-phones weigh about 2.2 
kg including the battery, and offer voice, 2.4 kbit/s data and fax 
services. 


CHANNELS
ANN -- more than just a news channel
Of course, it's a pretty strange move to name an Arabic news channel 
ANN (Arab News Network,) explicitly indicating the channel was an 
alternative to CNN. But the channel that recently appeared on a 
Eutelsat satellite is not just a TV station. It may be part of a 
struggle for power in Syria. 
ANN's chairman Suommar al-Assad (26) happens to be the nephew of 
Syrian president Hafez al-Assad. But it isn't a government channel as 
Samwar's father, Rifat al-Assad, has clashed with his older brother 
Hafez (the president) on several occasions. Actually, Rifat and his 
son Suommar were expelled in 1984 after trying to grab power while his 
brother was ill. In 1992, he returned to Syria and has kept a low 
profile since then although officially holding the title of vice 
president. 
ANN claims to be not only an Arabic-language alternative to CNN but 
also the first truly independent news channel for the region (
programming is, by the way, produced in London.) The around-the-clock 
news programming in Arabic will mainly supported by advertising 
revenues. Most existing Arabic satellite broadcasters have direct or 
indirect links to governments, and self-censorship reportedly is 
common among them. ANN, a US$100-million venture, has has hired staff 
from Middle East Broadcasting Corp., as well as Qatar's al-Jazirah 
service (both also well-known to satellite viewers.) 
Back in Syria, ANN programmes are closely watched, at least by the 
government. When a meeting of Rifat al-Assad with Saudi Arabia's crown 
prince was covered, Syrian authorities responded by arresting Rifat's 
press officer, Amnesty International said. 
Suommar meanwhile is reported to plan the launch a pan-Arab political 
party next month that will be dedicated to promoting democracy and the 
rights of ethnic and religious minorities. He insists his father isn't 
involved with Arab News Network or with the new political party. 

UK Home and Gardening
U.S. Home & Garden Television is now also available in the United 
Kingdom as Granada Television's Good Life Channel is airing blocks of 
HGTV's original programming. This represents HGTV's fifth major 
international distribution agreement reached within the past year. 
Granada Television airs two hours of branded HGTV programming each 
weekday, and three hours on Sunday on the Good Life Channel. The 
Granada Good Life Channel is wholly owned by Granada Sky Broadcasting (
GSkyB), which is a joint venture between Granada Television and 
British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB). 
"We are so impressed by the HGTV output and operation, which in many 
ways complements ours on the Good Life Channel, said Dianne Nelmes, 
Director of Programs for Granada Satellite Television. "The quality of 
their programming is stunning, and we feel British audiences will 
enjoy their variety and production values." [Well I'm stunned too. 
Sounds just like HGTV has re-invented television.] 

SuperCableStation
Turner Broadcasting System Inc., a unit of Time Warner Inc., said its 
satellite-delivered TBS Superstation will become a cable network by 
the end of the year. 
The move will enable TBS to collect increased revenues from 
advertising sales as well as cable operators. So, if the satellite 
signal isn't scrambled yet, it will soon be. In Atlanta, however, TBS 
will still be available terrestrially. 

Discovery on PAS-5
PanAmSat Corp. announced that Discovery Communications Inc. has joined 
the line-up of international television programmers on the PAS-5 
Atlantic Ocean Region satellite, PanAmSat's third cable television 
satellite for Latin America. 
PAS-5, scheduled for launch on August 22, will provide DCI with 
additional capacity to reach cable television audiences throughout the 
Americas with access to Europe as well. 
Under the long-term agreement, DCI will use an entire transponder on 
the PAS-5 C-band Americas beam to distribute Animal Planet and People &
 Arts, two new channels created by a joint venture between DCI and the 
British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC). Both Discovery and the BBC currently 
broadcast programming globally over PanAmSat's worldwide fleet of 
international and domestic U.S. satellites. 


BUSINESS
Lockheed's 'Power Center'
Lockheed Martin recently formally opened its new 'Communications and 
Power Center' (CPC) in suburban Philadelphia, signalling "a new era in 
space communications." The 420,000-square-foot plant produces 
communications payloads, power components and other equipment 
primarily for Lockheed Martin's space business units. 
When fully occupied at year-end, the CPC will employ 1,400 people in 
the design, assembly, integration and test of payloads and spacecraft 
power systems for some of the world's most sophisticated 
communications satellites. The payload is the functional part of a 
satellite. A communications payload receives radio signals from earth, 
amplifies and processes the signals, and relays them to one or more 
points back on earth. Power components built at the CPC include 
amplifiers, power converters, regulators and conditioners as well as 
spacecraft batteries. 
Hardware produced in Newtown will be shipped primarily to Lockheed 
Martin's Sunnyvale facilities, including the corporation's new 
Commercial Satellite Center, for integration with the satellite bus. 
The Commercial Satellite Center opened in late 1996 as part of a 
facility consolidation that transfers Missiles & Space work now 
performed in East Windsor, N.J., and Valley Forge, Pa., into the 
Sunnyvale operations. The CPC was sited between those facilities to 
draw from their wealth of microwave, power electronics, antenna and 
communications processing expertise. 


LAW & ORDER
The Lebanon goes cable
Lebanese television viewers are switching to pirate cable networks 
following a cabinet decision to shut down unlicensed terrestrial TV 
stations, Beirut's newspaper The Daily Star reported. 
After the cabinet clamp-down on unlicensed audio-visual media outlets, 
a growing number of people switch to a cable market that is by no 
means less illegal. This also lead to certain a boost in sales of 
satellite equipment which is not used for individual reception but for 
feeding channels into cable networks. Without them, however sales for 
individual satellite reception equipment would be up to three times 
higher, experts estimated. 

New Zealand, can you hear me?
The New Zealand government has decided to enhance the capabilities of 
a satellite monitoring station used to collect foreign communications 
and intelligence. 
Prime Minister Jim Bolger said a second antenna would be constructed 
at the monitoring station, situated in a rural area at the top of New 
Zealand's South Island. Bolger also said that an Order in Council had 
been signed by the governor general exempting the station from 
provisions in the Crimes Act, which until now prohibited the 
collection of foreign voice communications. 
The prime minister stressed that the new powers were strictly confined 
to the collection of foreign communications that contain, or may 
reasonably be expected to contain, foreign intelligence. [Wishy-washy, 
of course: what's "reasonably"? For instance, how can you know a text 
message contains whatever you're looking for without reading it first? 
Very funny indeed.] 

More commercial blurb on TV screens
Britain's television watchdog said it approved changes that will allow 
cable, satellite and new digital channels to carry additional home-
shopping advertising and open the way to the licensing of self-
promotional channels. 
The Independent Television Commission (ITC), the regulator for Britain'
s commercial television channels, said the changes reflect provisions 
of the revised European Union Directive on "Television Without 
Frontiers" adopted last Wednesday. 
The EU Directive was revised to permit up to three hours per day of 
home-shopping windows, including infomercials and advertorials. The 
allowance is in addition to existing amounts of advertising and tele-
shopping spots, the ITC said. 
All this regulating stuff is nothing but bullshit, of course -- as all 
Europeans know, there are several 24-hour home-shopping channels 
available on satellite, despite all regulation efforts. Bodies such as 
Britain's ITC or various regional German media authorities in the past 
didn't give a f*** about any regulations and instead licensed QVC, HOT 
and such, offering various rather weird excuses -- generally because 
those channels meant not only more tax revenues for the licensing 
country but also license fees for those generous authorities. 
By the way: the ITC said its changes do not affect existing 
regulations on advertising and tele-shopping on Britain's three 
commercial terrestrial channels (ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.) 


DIGITAL
Spanish digital wars continue
Canal Satelite Digital, the Canal+ backed digital television platform 
in Spain, has filed a complaint with the European Union Competition 
Commission against Telefonica de Espana's purchase of a 25 percent 
stake in Antena 3 television station and a controlling stake in its 
GMA subsidiary. 
It said the Antena 3 buy represented an abuse of Telefonica's dominant 
position. Telefonica's Antena 3 purchase will give it an indirect 15 
percent stake in Canal Satelite itself, as well as access to football [
soccer] rights that are regarded as crucial to make the digital 
platforms profitable. 
The commission should urgently open an infringement case against the 
Spanish telecommunications giant, Canal Satelite said. 

Kirch Group wants porn TV
Leo Kirch, owner and operator of of Germany's DF1 digital TV service 
as well as co-owner of several free-to-air TV stations, is not just a 
Catholic. He's an active, pious Catholic. 
When Thomas Löffelholz, editor-in-chief of the German newspaper Die 
Welt, in an editorial rejected a Bavarian decree that dictates a 
crucifix to be displayed in every school classroom, Kirch himself 
demanded Löffelholz be sacked. Fortunately, he did not succeed. (Kirch 
owns up to 40 percent of Axel Springer Verlag, publisher of Die Welt.) 
But when it comes to money, or rather: to avoid the disaster that 
digital TV will inevitably become in Germany, Kirch's officials know 
no scruples. According to a report in tomorrow's "Focus" magazine, a 
Kirch spokesman demanded hard-core movies be shown on German pay-TV. 
While pornography is not illegal in Germany, it may not be distributed 
to the public on television, no matter whether pay-TV or free-to-air. 
Well, what would pope John Paul II say? Would he excommunicate Leo 
Kirch? Hope so, because I know just one word for his company's 
attitude: sanctimonious. 


Copyright 08/97 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights 
reserved. 

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