Sat-ND, 15.9.1997 Canned laughter
A company official of Hong Kong's APT Satellite Holdings has confirmed its Apstar 2R satellite will be launched in early October aboard a Chinese Long March 3B rocket. Speaking to news agency Reuters, he did not give an exact date for the launch attempt.
Originally, Apstar had hoped for a July launch and reportedly even held talks with other launch service providers other that China's Great Wall Industry (Sat-ND, 21.5.97.)
The total cost of Apstar 2R, built by Space/Systems Loral, were given as up to US$230 million. As reported, three insurance companies jointly insure the satellite, he said but declined to say how much it was insured for.
All this is not exactly news, but maybe this: APT has been in talks with the Chinese government about launching a direct broadcast satellite, Apstar 3D, at the end of the century. As the Chinese government does not offer satellite launch services, at least not directly, talks may have covered topics such as the dish ban that in theory would make the reception of such a satellite illegal.
You can say it in plain English, in which case it sounds something like "It's not enough to just distribute American signals, any idiot can do that" (Paul Racine, vice president, Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. cf. Sat-ND, 21.7.97.)
You can also say something like that: "Cancom today proposed a competitive policy framework in which Satellite Relay Distribution Undertakings (SRDU) will be used to further promote the distribution of Canadian programme services. This policy framework is included as part of Cancom's own SRDU license renewal application, which was filed today with the CRTC. This application builds on the CRTC's policy objectives to serve remote and underserved areas of the country with Canadian content."
Cancom currently is the only wholesale signal distributor licensed in Canada. It serves nearly 2,500 small cable companies reaching 11 million Canadians across the country, providing English, French and native language television and radio services.
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said in July it will hold a hearing next February to consider the renewal of Cancom's licence as a satellite distributor of cable signals to about 2,500 cable companies, indicating it will also consider applications from others wishing to compete with Cancom.
In filling Cancom's application, Cancom President and Chief Executive Officer Alain Gourd stated, "We are ready for competition. At the same time we believe competition must be used to advance the cause of Canadian programming."
Cancom is proposing that the standards for letting other companies offer satellite services include the following conditions:
Extended SRDU programming services into remote and underserved areas of Canada (areas that might be ignored in a purely economical environment)
Distribution of a majority of Canadian services
Distribution of French-language services
Services to be distributed only in a manner which respects Canadian ownership and programming
The use of Canadian satellite facilities
System control in Canada
Operating rules that support CRTC policy objectives for local competition
Expenditures on specified public benefits of 5% of regulated gross revenue
The UK's terrestrial commercial channels ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 will not be allowed to air nine minutes of advertising per hour.
While this actually is the limit for cable and satellite channels, a request by their terrestrial competitors to be treated equally was turned by the Independent Television Commission. As a consequence, the maximum time dedicated to advertising in any one hour will continue to be seven minutes.
The ITC said "There would be an inevitable reduction in programming time and no guarantee of any increase in revenue for the broadcasters leading to improvements in programme quality."
An ITC spokeswoman said, however, that ITV and Sky will be allowed to increase advertising slightly to recoup the revenue lost by staying commercial-free during coverage of the death and funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Deutsche Welle and GE Americom Communications, Inc. (GE Americom), a GE Capital Services company, have signed an agreement to provide Deutsche Welle with satellite distribution services using GE Americom's GE-1 hybrid satellite.
Deutsche Welle will use GE-1 to provide television and radio programs via satellite to cable, SMATV, hotels and television stations in North America. Expanding its coverage in North America, Deutsche Welle will move from GE's Satcom C4 satellite to GE-1. The Deutsche Welle service will be dual-illuminated on both Satcom C4 and GE-1 from now until October 31, 1997.
[I've always wondered why they hired news readers for their English service who had such a ghastly American accent. Come on, you're not CNN, just an international broadcaster, wasting German tax payers' money while you don't have much to say. Yawn! Vooldn't it be much funnier if zey hat a Cherman accent?]
EchoStar Communications chief Charlie Ergen, told a meeting with shareholders and employees that the company's DISH Network will reach its goal of 1 million subscribers by year's end.
Ergen said the launch of EchoStar's third satellite will take place in early October from Cape Canaveral. Echostar III will deliver local TV signals in top markets [still subject to regulatory approval, I guess] and data services.
Ergen also admitted EchoStar was "hurt a little bit" by the failed merger with News Corp. earlier in the year. The satellite provider (and receiver manufacturer) however came out a "a much more focused company."
by Dr Sarmaz
Adaptec, very likely the manufacturer of the SCSI card in your computer, too, has developed a low-cost DVB-compliant PC satellite receiver card.
It utilises technology by NDS, a leading provider of end-to-end solutions for digital broadcasting. The card has been manufactured to NDS specification for its Data Broadcasting Network (DBN).
DBN broadcasts data to the PC user's satellite dish, the content is then directed to the consumer's PC via a coaxial cable connected with the DVB compliant Adaptec Satellite Express receiver. Smart card-based technology is built into the PC satellite receiver which utilises NDS conditional access technology to integrate with the subscriber management system, ensuring that revenue is credited to the broadcaster and the content provider. [Pay, pay, pay why does this nasty word always pop up when things get digital?]
Using the existing infrastructure of satellite broadcasting, DBN delivers information more than 1,000 times faster than the Internet and is the quickest and cheapest way for consumers to download multimedia information with video, animation and CD quality sound to their PC through a low cost board that takes minutes to install. With DBN, broadcasters and publishers can deploy new, revenue-generating business models for delivering value-added services and products.
In other words, this is by no means some kind of Internet access via satellite. Once there's need for interaction, you'll find yourself in the computer stone age again: the user's modem is used to dial back into the public network and establish a communications link.
NDS also announced that CyberStar, a Loral Company, will use its Data Broadcasting Network (DBN) solution to offer high bandwidth multimedia services around the globe.
CyberStar, based in Palo Alto, CA, is a limited liability partnership created and managed by Loral Space and Communications Ltd. Beginning in mid-1998, CyberStar plans to offer services that support high bandwidth intranets, extranets, and virtual private networks. It will enable businesses to deliver value-added services through their own customized multicast channels. For consumers, it offers high speed Internet access, and a plethora of personalized content.
All right, but who's NDS? NDS Americas is located in Newport Beach Calif. and is part of the company's worldwide operations with corporate headquarters based in the United Kingdom. NDS is part of the News Technology Group, responsible for News Corporation's high technology companies. And there you have it, finally it's Mr Murdoch again.
The personal feud between Mr Murdoch and Time Warner vice chairman Ted Turner has helped me fill this column more than once. This is probably the last time.
The battle was more or less about the cable distribution of Mr Murdoch's Fox News Network on Timer Warner cable systems, especially that in New York. Once Mr Murdoch's News Corp agreed to sell its digital satellite TV assets to PrimeStar, a DTH service run by cable companies including Time Warner, it was widely expected Fox news would make its way to Time Warner cable systems soon. This is what reportedly happened today in New York: viewers there can now tune in to the Fox News cable channel via Time Warner cable subscriptions.