file:///C|/Eigene Dateien/Sat-ND/97-08 Sat-ND/970828.htm
28.08.97 -- Helpless, clueless, pointless
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Will the sun
save Lewis, or will it crash?
LAW & ORDER
on French TV companies expected
finally gets what it deserves
Wall? East and West digital TV
pay-TV merger cleared?
A Russian Proton rocket blasted has
successfully put PanAmSat Corporation's PAS-5 communications satellite
to geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Did I mention earlier that PAS-5
is the company's largest, most powerful communications satellite ever?
Anyway, that was the last time I mentioned it. Other PAS-5 firsts include:
coverage throughout the Americas
with access to Europe over one C-band transmission beam;
a steerable spot beam for customised,
and the xenon ion propulsion
system, or XIPS, an advanced fuelling system which can prolong the satellite's
PAS-5, built upon Hughes' HS
601 HP (High Power) platform, carries 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders.
It is PanAmSat's third satellite that offers Spanish-language television
channels access to the Latin America cable market. PAS-5 also will serve
as the DTH television platform in Mexico for Sky Latin America, the direct-to-home
television partnership of News Corporation, Grupo Televisa, Organizaoes
Globo and Tele-Communications International, Inc. PanAmSat will provide
a total of 48 transponders to the partnership: twelve on PAS-5, and all
36 on the PAS-6 satellite, which was launched earlier this month.
The Proton launcher is built
by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre at its factory
near Moscow. The so-called fourth stage is built by RSC Energia also near
Moscow. The launch was the third successful commercial mission of International
Launch Services (ILS), a joint venture stock company owned by Lockheed
Khrunichev Energia International (LKEI) and Lockheed Martin Commercial
Launch Services. ILS plans four more launches this year.
Will the sun
save Lewis, or will it crash?
NASA ground controllers have so far
failed to re-establish contact with the Earth-observation satellite Lewis
that inexplicably started spinning some days ago, but officials said there's
new hope for the spacecraft.
The reason for the new optimism
is that over the next few days the sun angle on satellite's solar arrays
will become more favourable. The improved level of sunlight could allow
the batteries to slowly recharge. It is believed nothing has happened to
the satellite's onboard systems as they were shut down in an orderly fashion.
The Deep Space Network, a system of tracking stations around the world,
will be activated in the hope that anyone of them might catch a signal
from Lewis should the spacecraft recover.
However, there statements with
a different tone. A NASA spokesman described the loss of contact with the
spacecraft as "a serious crisis." There's even already some speculation
that the satellite, currently at a height of 530 kilometres above Earth,
will crash within the next three weeks unless it can be recovered.
Whether at least parts of the
satellite would survive the re-entry to the atmosphere and pose any danger
to built-up areas is not yet clear.
LAW & ORDER
on French TV companies expected
One of the specialities of he French
media landscape is that many companies are owned by big public works companies.
The new government is reportedly planning to curb their influence.
Daily newspaper Le Figaro reported
that the Socialist-led government was planning to ask the big public works
companies to cut their stakes in television firms to less than 10 percent
should they want to qualify for bids on big public works contracts in future.
While so far no decision had been taken on the matter, the draft for a
new media law is expected to be presented to Parliament before the end
of the year.
Strange as it may seem, French
TV is dominated by companies such as building company Bouygues (39 percent
stake in TF1;) water management and building firm Compagnie Générale
des Eaux (30 percent stake in Havas, which has 37 percent of pay television
group Canal+, and 10.2 percent in Canal+ directly;) and water management
and urban waste [ha! 'urban waste' sounds like a good description of TV
in general] group Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux (34 percent in M6.)
While a single company may hold
up to 49 percent of any French broadcaster, there are plans to reduce the
allowed stake to 25 percent and, in to 10 percent in case of companies
that largely depend on public works contracts.
While the water companies could
probably live with those new limitations, Bouygues would suffer rather
hard as the company earns nearly half its net profits from TF1.
Kirch's DF1 finally
gets what it deserves
Okay, here's one more for all those
slimeballs that kept cheating the public by saying it won't happen: It
will happen. DF1, the first and only digital TV platform in Germany,
will finally close down despite denying such 'rumours' in the past.
Frankly, DF1 did not deserve
any other fate -- just for their incredibly arrogant behaviour towards
independent journalists and enthusiasts [which hopefully was one of the
reasons for the service's demise.] I'll spare you the details; let's get
back to the facts: It seems even I was a bit too careful in yesterday's
Sat-ND. DF1 will cease to exist as a company -- it will be as dead as a
dodo by the end of this year. Customers will get "Premiere Digital" as
a replacement next year. In other words [I just can't get
enough of it:] Kirch's DF1 service, launched just over a year ago to compete
against Premiere in the emerging digital pay TV market, will be dissolved
as a company, and Premiere will take over its programming.
The move comes a s no real surprise
as Kirch and its former rival CLT/Ufa a few weeks ago reached a co-operation
agreement. Kirch will supply Premiere Digital with the technical platform,
the so-called d-box, and what was described by officials as "high-class"
movie rights -- even though nobody has ever been able to spot many high-class
movies on DF1. [Subscribers may have thought their TV set was going out
on them because all the movies were in black and white -- indigestible
crap from centuries ago.] Ufa/CLT will in turn, as reported, take over
stakes in Kirch's fledgling sports channel DSF and his Beta Research unit.
Both Kirch and Ufa/CLT, which
will hold a 50-percent stake each in Premiere after the restructuring,
will work together on establishing Premiere as the sole pay-TV provider
in Germany. So far, Premiere offers an analogue pay-TV satellite and cable
channel as well as a few digital experiments. However, the deal is subject
to EU regulatory approval.
DF1 was launched just about
a year ago. During that period, the digital service attracted no much more
than 40,000 subscribers [that was at least the latest official figure;]
generated losses of an estimated DM1 billion; and by the way created a
unique public relations disaster. Just for instance: An Internet mailing
list had been set up, but critics got kicked off repeatedly -- finally,
the mailing list was scrapped some weeks ago because it contained almost
nothing but complaints. It seems that officials has disregarded the basic
rule of doing business: "Keep the customer satisfied."
Wall? East and West digital TV
ExpressVu Inc. will introduce its direct-to-home
(DTH) satellite service to Canadian television viewers on September 10th.
Sounds like easy going, but it isn't.
The company will launch with
55 digital video channels in the east, 37 in the west, plus more than 30
music channels, and will offer six additional Canadian and U.S. speciality
channels in each region when they are available in mid-October.
ExpressVu said it had the satellite
capacity to offer additional channels and was currently reviewing programming
options. The company expects to expand its program line-up to approximately
70 video channels in the east and 50 in the west by early 1998.
In the fourth quarter of 1998,
following the move to its high powered DBS satellite, ExpressVu will offer
more than 200 digital video, music and information channels. The move to
DBS will make ExpressVu one of North America's largest multichannel television
services, and larger than all other cable or DTH services in Canada.
Sounds really complicated, and
maybe early subscribers may even have to have their dishes realigned later?
Who knows, the company's statement did not elaborate on that...
ExpressVu said it will have
60,000 set-top boxes and dishes in retail distribution across Canada from
launch through to December, and will introduce additional set-top models
at the end of 1997. The brand name "Dish Network System" indicates where
it all comes from: EchoStar of the U.S.
MCI Communications Corp. has told the
U.S: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it is considering bundling
Primestar's satellite TV service with its telephone offerings.
Meanwhile, observers have managed
to find a respective clause in MCI's filing with the FCC that gives MCI
the non-exclusive right "to bundle the Primestar DBS service with MCI's
telephony service offering, on mutually agreeable terms." A spokesman was
quoted as saying "That was just put in there to keep our options open."
Of course -- similar efforts by other companies haven't had much effect
by Dr Sarmaz
Foxtel, a joint venture between the Australian government-owned Telstra
and News Corp Ltd said it lost A$212 million in the year to June 30, 1997.
Telstra executives said the company had invested A$245 million into Foxtel
while suffering losses of A$189 million from its 50 percent investment.
Pay television operator Australis Media
Ltd said it saw no legal obstacle to its planned merger with rival pay-TV
group Foxtel, controlled by Mr Murdoch's News Corp. and Telstra Corp.
"We have strong legal advise
that there'll be no legal impediment on a regulatory front," Australis
chief executive officer Sean O'Halloran was quoted as saying. Under the
terms of the agreement, News Corp and Telstra would own up to 66.5 percent
It is the second time Australis
and Foxtel have attempted to merge. The first try was stopped by the anti-monopolies
watchdog Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in January
1996 on anti-competitive grounds. O'Halloran noted that since then, industry
conditions had changed: Optus Vision had broken into the local call market
and built up a pay-TV customer base. He estimates that the Australian pay-TV
industry had lost around A$2 billion in start up costs. Nonetheless, the
industry had a strong penetration rate of about 13 percent of Australia's
six million homes.
Telstra chief executive Frank Blount told reporters that "There is no doubt,
ACCC concern aside, we have more rationalisation in the industry. We don't
see it stopping here."
Porn ferry Swedish?
Thanks to its readers, Sat-ND is able
to shed some more light every day on the outrageous porn ferry scandal
that objected innocent children on a ferry from England to France (not
Belgium) to ten seconds of pure sex instead of Bugs Bunny.
First of all, Stena is not a
Norwegian but a Swedish carrier, based in Göteborg (Gothenburg.) Regular
readers know that my guesses are usually wrong, as far a geography is concerned.
So I would ask Sweden, Norway and the rest of the world to accept my sincere
apologies for being such a dumb ass. [I should have known better as Göteborg
is much closer to my home town than, for instance, Munich.]
Anyway, as Karl Breitner from
Sweden explains, legislation on a ferry depends on the country where he
vessel is registered. "If it's registered in a British port, the ferry
is considered British territory, and British law applies. If country of
register is not British, it's the territory of that country and the laws
of it applies.
"I wonder what the laws of Panama,
or any other country offering [cheap] 'convenience' registry says about
receiving BSkyB's satellite transmissions."
[Well I guess they just couldn't
care less about what's going on on 'their' ships. Karl also has a drastic
example that shows how complicated international seafaring may become:]
"I once refused British police
coming aboard a Swedish ship in Immingham. It's up to the ship's captain
to allow them aboard, and he said NO. A member of the crew was suspected
to have started a fight in a pub. We had a policeman standing on the downside
of the gangway checking IDs of everyone going ashore after that incident,
refusing entry to Great Britain if you couldn't show an ID."
* * *
by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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