27.08.97 -- Es geht voran
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Hughes to build Thuraya
Lewis in trouble
Indostar becomes Cakrawarta
Fengyun 2 still working
OF THE DAY
GE-3 is late
Yet another new launch site
No more soccer for you
U.S. commands Japan to let digital service on air
Bertelsmann, Kirch claim digital stakes
EU probes BIB plans
Finally: Rupert's New Zealand Sky
Porn ferry scandal: Illegal $ky reception? (20.8.97)
to build Thuraya
- "The Thuraya Satellite
Telecommunication company decided to enter into final negotiations
with Hughes as the preferred bidder out of three leading satellite
manufacturers competing for this prestigious project."
(Mohammed Omran, chairman of Thuraya)
- Hughes Electronics has
in effect won the bid for the US$850-million contract leaving behind
U.S. rival Lockheed Martin as well as France's Aerospatiale, which
so far held a quasi-monopoly in supplying the Middle East with
satellites. The company built five Arabsats and will deliver the
sixth next year.
- However, the deal
isn't quite done yet. The contract is to be signed on September 11.
should there be any difficulty in finalising the agreement with the
preferred bidder, then one of the two remaining bidders will be
considered for further negotiations aiming at concluding a final
agreement," said Omran.
- The US$64.8-million
Earth-observation satellite Lewis, which was launched just last
Friday, has developed a life of its own that will probably render it
- NASA officials
reported the satellite has started spinning at a mission-threatening
rate of two revolutions per minute yesterday, probably owing to
"excessive firing of a thruster on one side of the satellite."
The problem persisted today.
- As a consequence, "the
solar arrays on Lewis were unable to generate full power due to the
spinning motion, and the batteries were discharged below operational
levels. Four subsequent attempts to contact the spacecraft were
unsuccessful," NASA said in a statement.
- NASA and satellite
manufacturer TRW were "working hard to assess and better
understand the situation, in order to establish a recovery plan and
try to resume the mission." NASA pointed out that there were
also on board automatic systems that might be able to correct the
problem and recharge the batteries.
- The 412-kilogram
satellite carries three advanced Earth observation instruments and
was to have operated for a minimum of three years.
- [As I expected in a
recent edition of this so-called newsletter, the satellite was by no
means named after Carl Lewis but for 19th century explorer
Meriwether Lewis. Remember the Lewis and Clark Expedition, an
exploratory enterprise that lasted from 1804-1806 and mapped the
northern part of the new territory west of the Mississippi River
acquired by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803? No?
Neither do I.]
- There's some confusion over
the upcoming launch of Indonesia's first national "multimedia"
satellite, Indostar-1, aboard an Ariane rocket in October (Sat-ND
- No, the launch hasn't
been postponed -- the satellite has been renamed. Joop Ave, minister
for tourism, post and telecommunication told reporters after meeting
with President Soeharto that the President himself had named the
satellite "Cakrawarta", which was translated as "news
weapon." [Oh yeah... I guess news do hurt sometimes ;-]
2 still working
- Fengyun 2 (FY-2) is just
another satellite that just won't leave the news although nothing
exciting is happening with it. It just works fine, and that's what
China's news Agency Xinhua has kept telling the world for months.
- Just today, Xinhua let
it be known that "Orbital testing has been completed with
satisfactory technological results." It added that "the
FY-2 has fulfilled all predetermined functional and technological
requirements and will go into commercial operations in the near
future." Of course, Xinhua did not miss the opportunity to
point out that a "Long March 3 carrier rocket accurately
positioned the FY-2 in its correct orbit." Now that seems to be
really newsworthy,, doesn't it?
OF THE DAY
- GE Americom has re-scheduled
the launch of GE-3 aboard an Atlas IIAS vehicle from Cape Canaveral
for September 3.
- The launch window will
be open from 8:03 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. ET. Coverage of the launch will
be on GE-1/13 C band, beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET, and also on Telstar
4/Ku in analogue format on the PBS Schedule 8 channel.
another new launch site
- Soon there may be satellite
launches from Guyana. Wait a minute, I hear you moan, but that's
where those Ariane rockets go off from.
- Wrong. I won't delve
into historical or geographical details, but the European launch
centre is in French Guiana (notice the difference in spelling)
which, as the name might indicate, was and indeed still is a French
colony. The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is a former British
colony that achieved independence in 1966. Just as French Guiana,
the country is located close to the equator, which makes it an ideal
place for satellite launches: the closer the launch site is to the
equator, the more payload can be carried.
- At the height of the
current general election campaign, the country's president Samuel
Hinds said that Beal Aerospace Inc. of Dallas, Texas (USA) had
submitted a proposal to set up a launching site on the Guyana
coastland. Under the plan, the firm would manufacture rocket
components in Texas, then ship them to Guyana and assemble them on
the launch pad. The first launch could take place at the end of next
year. [All that indicates that, at least initially, smaller
satellites will be launched, probably to low-Earth orbits -- an
educated guess supported by the fact that those LEO satellites tend
to come in vast numbers. The current launch capacity of all
well-established providers probably would not suffice to launch all
planned projects of that kind.]
- Hinds was quoted as
saying he was "half-expecting, half-hoping that such an idea
would come to us, given our nearness to the equator. We just hope
that the firm is serious and we presume that they are, so that we
can begin negotiations as soon as possible." He added that the
government would move quickly to check out the firm's bona fides
before it seals any deal.
- By the way: Guyana is
not, as you may have expected, bordering to French Guiana -- there's
a country by the name of Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana) between
them. Another candidate for a new launch site?
soccer for you
- According to news reports,
Polish TV viewers won't be able to watch first division football
[soccer] anymore unless they subscribe to Canal+ Polska.
- Starting next year,
the pay-TV channel will exclusively broadcast the matches following
the recent acquisition of the TV rights until 2003. The deal was
estimated at US$20 million. Officials of pubcaster TVP, which holds
the rights until 1998, said they were surprised with the swift
- Canal+ Polska said it
had 171,000 subscribers (while Poland has a population of some 40
commands Japan to let digital service on air
- According to Japanese
officials, the United States have urged Japan to ensure a smooth
launch of the DirecTV satellite broadcasting venture, partially
controlled by Hughes Electronics Corp. of the U.S. [Not what I would
- Posts and
Telecommunications Minister Hisao Horinouchi recently received a
letter to that effect signed jointly by U.S. Secretary of Commerce
William Daley and U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky,
reported news agency Kyodo.
- One of the problems
seems to be that the one existing (PerfecTV) and two planned digital
DTH services (among hem DirecTV) will offer not only more of the
same as usual but actually some identical channels. Industry
officials have estimated that one-third of the programs offered by
those multichannel broadcasters will overlap. [You might for
instance expect CNN to be carried on any of these services.] This
may be the rule in the U.S. where digital DTH services more or less
serve as wireless cable providers. In many other countries, not only
Japan, things are a bit more complicated.
- U.S. officials now
reportedly urged that program suppliers be allowed to carry some of
the channels PerfecTV already offers without any modification. Under
current laws, this would be illegal -- however, the law was passed
in 1950 when nobody had any idea of DBS and digital TV.
- [More educated
guesses: what's a 'modification?' More colour saturation in the
picture, or a delay of some tenths of a second, which is inevitable
in satellite and especially digital broadcast environments anyway?]
Kirch claim digital stakes
- German TV giants Bertelsmann
and Kirch are making progress on their way to establish a common
digital TV platform, reports "Berliner Zeitung."
- The newspaper said
that Bertelsmann's subsidiary CLT-Ufa will take over 50 percent of
Kirch's stake in sports channel DSF which is regarded as one of the
most important parts of Kirch's digital platform DF1. DSF offers a
free-to-air channel as well as some pay-TV niche channels within DF1
and, by the way, also markets DF1 advertising space.
- CLT/Ufa reportedly is
expected to take stakes in Kirch's units Beta Research und Beta
Digital, both of which deal with digital TV operations. Beta
Research will equally divided between Kirch, CKT/Ufa, and Germany's
cable giant Deutsche Telekom. Beta Digital will be owned by Kirch
and CLT/Ufa on a 50/50 basis.
- Kirch's fledling
digital TV service DF1 will not survive as a stand-alone service.
Instead, it will according to press reports become a part of
CLT/Ufa's digital bouquet while retaining its brand name [and I
write this just to keep all those DF1 lawyers happy who seem to have
nothing better to do than threatening mailing list owners. Up
yours, you slimeballs!]
- by Dr Sarmaz
probes BIB plans
- The European Commission will
scrutinise plans by British Telecom, pay-TV giant BSkyB, Midland
Bank Plc and Matsushita Electric Europe to set up British
Interactive Broadcasting Ltd (BIB,) a joint venture that would
supply services such as home banking and home shopping through
- It said in a notice
published in the European Union's Official Journal that the deal had
been submitted for clearance under rules which ban agreements
restrictive of fair competition or abuse of dominant position.
- In order to receive
the services, which also include travel services and a collection of
Internet sites, television viewers will have to buy a BIB compatible
set-top-box and connect it to a telephone line, the notice said. The
boxes will also allow reception of digital satellite television
channels, including BSkyB's future digital platform.
- The Commission also
noted that BIB intended to subsidise the cost of manufacturing the
set-top-boxes to maximise sales; that customers would be encouraged
to apply for the Mondex smart card; and that although BIB's services
would be "free," the company had reserved the right to
charge a fee to customers who want to use the services without
BSkyB's digital TV package.
Rupert's New Zealand Sky
- It was just part of the truth
when I reported yesterday that Ameritech has agreed to sell its 12.5
percent stake in Sky Network Television Limited of New Zealand to Mr
Murdoch's Independent Newspapers Limited (INL.)
- So have Bell Atlantic
and Tele-Communications International, all three companies being
investors in HKP Partnership which owns, or rather: owned a majority
stake in the UHF pay-TV operator. All investors in HKP have agreed
to sell their stakes to INL. The transaction is expected to close in
the third quarter of 1997 (in other words by the end of September)
and will result in INL's total purchase of 51.1 percent of the
- How much does it cost?
TCI International said it will sell its 13-percent interest for an
anticipated price of NZ$84 million (approximately US$54 million.)
- News Corp. said its
INL unit would purchase a 48-percent stake in Sky Network Television
for NZ$308.9 million (US$199.7 million) and sell back 3.1 percent on
a pro-rata basis to other existing shareholders.
- Following the deal,
state-owned Television New Zealand will hold 17.5 percent,
family-owned investment concern Todd Corp. will hold 9 percent,
private investment group Tappenden Construction will hold 8.1
percent and the interests of the founders of the company, Craig
Heatley and Terry Jarvis, will hold 17 percent.
ferry scandal: Illegal $ky reception? (20.8.97)
- Geoff Toon has some more
questions regarding Bugs Bunny, or rather what was shown instead on
a ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe.
- "Once out of
British waters does the reception of $ky programmes, other than Sky
News, cease as all subscribers must be in the UK or Eire??"
[Good question... as far as I know, Stena is a Norwegian company,
and the country's laws should apply. It's not British anyway, so I
guess Mr Murdoch has no chance of suing them, wherever they got
their smart card from. Same applies to the porn channel that
reportedly was shown accidentally, although I still think it's much
more likely that some really excited staff member, watching a video
cassette, pressed a wrong button in the heat of the moment.]
- "Do we know what
was shown, the accidental switching to VOX or Pro7 would bring in
programmes that would meet the UK media's definition of porn."
[Come on -- I don't even wanna know! According to PA News, it
was a 'hard-core film,' presumably of a heterosexual nature,
although that alleged 'satellite glitch' lasted just ten seconds.]
- "Note since $ky
have upped their subscriptions plus forcing more PPVs on us many are
now protesting by using the new spelling ;)" [Dow zat vould be
zomzink: Ve von't pay vor zat sirvis anymoah! Doh vay Rupie, go
'lonk and pleh wiz yurselve. Na ja. Hehe!]
08/97 by Peter C. Klanowski,
pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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