Sat-ND, 19.9.1997 Bargeld, Traumpaar, Zarentochter
(Thank God it's Friday)
Canal+ is expensive (Sat-ND, 14.9.97)
By Dr Sarmaz
Now this is a problem I'd really like to have to deal with. Imagine you count your money and find you have a billion US dollars more that you expected. Oops...!
That's more or less what happened to U.S. media mogul and Time Warner Vice President Ted Turner, who is also Time Warner's largest shareholder. He noted that his net worth in January was US$2.2 billion but has since grown to US$3.2 billion. So, he will set up a new foundation benefiting the United Nations, helping refugees, fighting disease and eliminating land mines. Mr Turner announced he would donate US$100 million of Time Warner stock every year for the next 10 years to the new foundation, which will co-operate with various U.N. committees.
Of course, Mr Turner used his own channel CNN to break the news. Appearing on the Larry King show, he said it was nothing special the idea occurred to him just two days ago in a New York hotel room. When he told his wife Jane Fonda, she reportedly burst into tears and said she was really proud to be married to him.
It's not a totally new idea of his, however: last November, Mr Turner indicated he had thought of paying the US$1.4 billion the United States owe the United Nations. He also acknowledged "it would be a grandstand play and I would be criticised for doing it."
As I commented back in Sat-ND, 22.11.96: "Sure, Ted. But would a man like you really care?" No, obviously not. It seems more important to him not appear on the top 25 list of the wealthiest Americans. He may, however, become the most influential American of this and/or the next millennium. If you give away a billion dollars like that, you deserve it, and more than that.
Finally, Mr Turner's arch rival Rupert Murdoch has been sized down from a media mogul to less than the size of a dwarf by Turner's generous gesture and Rupert deserves it. Would all those guys who own even much more than Mr Turner, such as William Henry (Bill) Gates III, give away a just third of their wealth, this world would truly be a better place. They don't, however.
A Boeing Delta II expendable launch will next week place five more Iridium system satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California (USA.)
The launch, which has a five-second window, is scheduled for no earlier than Sept. 26, at 6:23:26 p.m. PDT. To date, the Delta II has successfully launched 15 Iridium satellites in three previous launches on May 5, July 9 and Aug. 20. The upcoming mission will bring the total number of satellites in this system to 34, i.e. more than half the 66 active satellites planned.
Iridium LLC Vice Chairman and CEO Edward F. Staiano said that Boeing will launch the majority of the satellites comprising the Iridium constellation, "playing a significant role in reaching Iridium's goal of providing world-wide mobile telecommunications service by June of next year."
A commercial FM station in Lusaka, Zambia was recently banned from relaying live British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programmes. Censorship? Nah... not really.
Unfortunately, officials of FM Radio Phoenix, as the station is called, did not read their broadcast license which explicitly stated the station was not allowed to take over foreign radio broadcasts.
Radio Phoenix managing director Erol Hickey, speaking to the Zambia Independent Media Association, said that when applying for Phoenix's broadcasting licence, he explained his intention to relay BBC programmes. "We had requested for the BBC link and the government said we should hang on... the facility was handed over to us this year by the BBC and we decided that we were going to use it... I didn't realise that we would have to ask permission from the government to get the BBC signal."
Hickey admitted that the information ministry had specifically stated that the station was forbidden from re-broadcasting foreign programming when Radio Phoenix was granted its licence last February. Actually, the text contains this unambiguous sentence: "This broadcast licence is only for broadcasts from Lusaka and does not include the re-transmission of signals from foreign sources."
South Korea's Hyundai Electronics Industries Co. has agreed to invest US$300 million through the year 2000 to take a 5.3 percent stake in Teledesic Corp.
The Hyundai Group unit said in a statement it planned to invest US$75 of the US$300 million this year after raising the funds in the U.S. financial market. Details about how it would raise the remaining amount would be decided later, the statement said.
The satellite-based "Internet-in-the-Sky" set up by billionaires Craig McCaw and William Henry ("Bill") Gates III, last April attracted The Boeing Company as 10 percent equity partner in Teledesic and as prime contractor for the company's global, broadband satellite system.
Teledesic earlier said it was talking to telecommunications giants, such as AT&T Corp., MCI Communications Corp. and Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. for equity investments. The company expects fo finance one half of the US$9 billion cost of its planned 288-satellite system with equity investment and the other half through debt.
Even an idiot such as me could have forecast that, and in fact, I did: Not all planned Ka-band systems will become reality. Wall Street analysts now estimate that the proposed broadband satellite systems will require US$52 billion to be built and launched a bit too much.
"I'm not sure they all will go forward," Communications Daily quoted Charles Emmert, TelAstra Group, as saying. Some systems were either "overly complex or they won't work." Teledesic adviser Manish Thakur admitted "there is not enough capital available to fund them all."
Even the technology isn't quite as advanced as some want to make the public believe: "We're looking at the trade-offs with the on-board processors. The technology is not quite there," confessed Ronald Maehl, President of Loral's Cyberstar. And once it's there, "It may be a technology in search of customers," said Morgan Stanley's John Chester.
As the Ka-band kraze seems to be ebbing down already, the next wave of multi-billion dollar projects is expected this month as the FCC deadline (26 September) for applications in the V-band, the even more delicate region around 40 GHz, comes closer.
Digital broadcaster DirecTV Japan Inc. expects to launch its service in December with the full 91-channel line-up. The company, which filed for the planned channel line-up last month, expects full approval by the telecommunications ministry.
The ministry's final approval for the channels DirecTV Japan requested is expected by November 5. Michael Armstrong, chairman and chief executive officer of Hughes Electronic Corp., DirecTV Japan's major shareholder, said that the applications by programming content providers satisfy ministry requirements: "We have reviewed each one of those channels to assure we've met these qualifications, so unless there's something that we missed, and that would be our fault, we would expect [the ministry] to approve what we asked for."
Armstrong said DirecTV Japan will offer a basic tier of 30 channels for the equivalent of "around 30 dollars" (¥3,600) a month. Not what one would call cheap, actually.
An recent announcement by a Canadian company named Interprovincial Satellite Services Ltd. (Intersat) seems to have created quite a stir at the Alberta Stock Exchange. Frankly, when I read it a week ago I just couldn't have cared less.
What was it all about? "Intersat Interfax Communications, a division of Interprovincial Satellite Services Ltd., announced that it has successfully developed a means for sending faxes over the Internet."
Yawn! Why should anybody want to send faxes over the Internet when there's email, a much more powerful service. Anyway, "at the request of the Alberta Stock Exchange," Intersat said it "wishes to announce that there have been no further material changes subsequent to the announcement made Sept. 12, 1997."
However, Intersat added that it had has an 18 month history of providing fax services across geosynchronous satellites such as [the Canadian] MSAT [106.5 degrees West.] "With satellites and the Internet, it is difficult to make a successful direct connection between two fax machines. Intersat's fax solution across satellite and across the Internet overcomes this lack of direct connection and the associated propagation delays.
"An inexpensive interface is required at the source fax machine to route fax traffic either by traditional phone lines or by the Internet. If the Internet is the route chosen by the operator, a Fax Hub directs the fax traffic from the source fax machine to the destination fax machine using the services of local Internet service providers. If the destination fax machine is busy, the Fax Hub will receive the fax itself and provide a store and forward service."
What's so exciting about that? All this, and much more, can be done with email by the end of the millennium, nobody will even remember what "fax" was, as far as countries with a high Internet penetration are concerned.
The British government is examining ways of encouraging viewers to move rapidly to multi-channel digital TV, Culture Secretary Chris Smith said. The government was keen to encourage Britons to adopt the new technology.
But why, just to make Rupert Murdoch even richer? No, the government wants to sell the spectrum currently used for analogue TV for commercial use by, for instance, telecommunications companies it could be worth billions of pounds.
This will partly be financed by TV viewers who will have to shell out at least 200 pounds (US$320) to get hold of a digital decoder to receive digital services irrespective of whether they are delivered by cable, satellite or aerial. Digital services will also be financed by companies such as British Interactive Broadcasting (BIB,) the terrestrial digital offspring of BSkyB, British Telecommunications Plc, Midland Bank and Matsushita of Japan.
BIB plans a 600 million pound (US$960 million) investment to promote and subsidise the set-top boxes required to receive the new services. BIB has been created to develop interactive services to offer alongside BSkyB's new 200-channel digital satellite TV service which is scheduled for launch in spring 1998.
"Put simply, I want digital television to succeed, on all delivery platforms," Culture Secretary Smith said. [Note the difference! I personally would like to see that digital bullshit going down the drain as soon as possible.]
Henk C. Room from Cairo, who I have the honour of calling a colleague as he also operates a mailing list (which indeed is a tough job sometimes) sent me some details on the Eurasiasat project.
It first appeared in his mailing list SAT-MidEast last May: "The new child, in planning, of Turkish Telekom and build by the French Aerospatiale consortium, will be equipped with 32 Ku-Band transponders, and will be brought into orbit by a not yet named launcher in early 1999."
It seems that Intelsat has also been involved with that project temporarily but has withdrawn in the meantime. Henk wrote last August that "Turk Telekom is reported (by Space News dated 23/6) to have formed a joint venture Eurasiasat with Aerospatiale. This venture will provide the Turksat follow-ons, notably Eurasiasat 1, now targeted to be launched in 'mid-1999'. The Eurasiasat venture will take under its wing the existing Turksat 1B and 1C satellites and provide DTH tv and VSAT services to central Asia, Turkey, Europe and other states in a wider area around Turkey."
So, you could have known all that for months had you only subscribed to his service! Why on Earth haven't you? Here's how to: Send an e-mail to: email@example.com and put in the body-text on a single line: subscribe sat-mideast.
Should you happen to wonder: No, I do not use any information from any other mailing list for Sat-ND as I want you to subscribe to all of them. Just pick what interests you from TELE-satellite International's home page. Free online-subscriptions are available.
SAT-MidEast also maintains a Web site with relevant Middle Eastern satellite information, and a regular updated, satellite based archive of observations, features & news for the Middle East:
As a former Canal+ subscriber (I cancelled my subscription to this channel just 2 weeks ago) I can confirm that this channel is rather expensive.
In France, this channel is broadcast on terrestrial networks all around the country as the fourth channel. It is also broadcast by satellite, both in analogue and digital.
If you subscribe to the terrestrial version, you'll pay 175 FF (30 US$) a month, if you decide to subscribe to the digital version (via satellite or on cable) you'll pay 175 FF + 45 FF decoder rent so it's 220 FF (37 US$) for one channel (in fact you have access to three times the same channel but programmes are not broadcast at the same time). It's really expensive!
As you noticed in the article, Canal+ was for a long time the only alternative to the three terrestrial channels (TF1, France2, France3). That's why a lot of French people subscribed to that channel.
But now, with French digital packages (Canal Satellite Numerique, TPS, ABSAT) available, the rules of the game have changed, and a lot of people are cancelling their C+ subscription for subscribing to one of the digital package.
[Merci beaucoups! As my knowledge of French is somewhat limited, that probably means something like 'good morning' or 'have a frog' in English and is completely mis-spelt anyway. So let me put it this way: thank you very much for your contribution! As for the world record in stupidity, I guess Germany's Premiere subscribers and those of Canal+ in France both deserve it. What better proof could there be for the very special relationship that has developed between the two countries. As always, I mean it in the nice possible way whatsoever ;-) Ed.]
09.97 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De.
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