Sat-ND, 15.10.97

Sat-ND, 15.10.97

Sat-ND, 15.10.1997 – Chase that sound

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Today's Headlines

Cassini off for Saturn
Motorola wants cheaper launches
Bill on cable
The Bavarian Stupidity Contest
Wintel big in Japan

Editorial note

Oh yeah, hello there! Can you read this? Great. That means that Sat-ND is back on track now, and even in Technicolor and Dolby-surround HTML. To all those who expressed their sympathy following my software problems: thanks, but I don't need that. There were no problems related to Windows 95 (in fact, the software used for producing this co-called newsletter is available for OS/2 and Linux as well, and exactly the same would've happened if I used one of that operating systems.)

Some of the efforts in getting this operation back to normal included the re-programming of some macros (they get overwritten during the update; once again, not at all a Windows-related problem) and the hasty purchase of a new keyboard. But instead of a high-quality Cherry keyboard (made in Germany,) I ended up with one from Mitsumi (manufactured in Malaysia) for just a third of the price. Greetings to all readers in Malaysia – I know there's at least one. The keyboard works, too, and I already got used to it. Anyway, please ignore any typos or other mistakes which may be related to the macros and/or the new keyboard ;-)

I'd really love to say "and now the news" but there are hardly any news anyway today. Instead you'll get a comprehensive list of MOST HATED SATELLITEZ.


Cassini off for Saturn

Of course, it's pretty futile to write anything about the Cassini-Huygens launch as everything has been said on radio or TV today and will be repeated in tomorrow's newspapers. So, let's keep it short.

A U.S. Air Force Titan 4B rocket lifted off rom Cape Canaveral at 4:43 a.m. EDT (0843 UTC,) carrying the controversial, nuclear-fuelled saturn probe. Cassini was released from the rocket's upper stage onto a circuitous path to Saturn about 43 minutes after blast-off.

At least up to now, everything seems to work fine. That not ease the fears of anti-nuclear protesters. who claimed the probe's plutonium power source would be a threat again during its August 1999 flyby of the Earth. However, the risky part of the mission is over: according to nASA statistics, there was a 1-in-476 chance of an accident 3.5 minutes after the lift-off. (Compare that to your chances to win a prize in a lottery.) The chance of Cassini re-entering the atmosphere during the Earth flyby and releasing plutonium is less than 1-in-1 million.

Cassini is due to enter orbit around Saturn in July 2004 to begin a four-year tour of the planet's intricate ring system and bizarre collection of orbiting moons. The spacecraft carries a European-built probe called Huygens that will parachute to the surface of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.


Motorola wants cheaper launches

All of those wonderful proposed new satellite systems this so-called newsletter has frequently mentioned will not be realised. But let's imagine they will.

There will be two problems then: the capacity of the well-known satellite launch providers as well that of the newcomers will not suffice to get 'em all up. It may not even be enough to provide regular launches of replacement satellites, and owing to the small-and-cheap approach of many of those systems, many satellites will have to be replaced frequently. Problem #2: the cost of satellite lanuches.

As the Wall Street Journal reported today, Motorola Inc. is looking to have no less than 500 satellites put into orbit between 2000 and 2010. According to the paper, the number was disclosed in a request to several rocket-launch service providers. Motorola's "request," however, is that launch prices be lowered as much as 80 percent. Even if this happened, Motorola would probably have to pay more than US$1 billion.

The paper said the 500 satellites would belong to eight different projects. Interesting, as I'm aware of only three (Sat-ND, 18.6.97):

In June, Motorola said in a regulatory filing it planned to launch 63 satellites between 2000 and the end of 2002. Extrapolated to 201, that would mean just 210 satellites (constant launch rate provided.)



Bill on cable

Now here's one for all you Bill Gates haters out there. Microsoft is reportedly considering to invest $600 million to $1 billion in U.S. cable giant Tele-Communications Inc.

And again, it's the Wall Street Journal that reported there had been talks but no deal yet. TCI could use the software giant's financial help to underwrite the costs of new digital set-top boxes.

Microsoft already is involved in the cable business – it recently invested US$1 billion in Comcast, the fourth-largest U.S. cable operator. But even though TCI is no longer the country's largest cable operator (that's Timer-Warner now,) such a deal would have international implications as well – just think of Tele-Communications International Inc (TINTA,) through its subsidiary Flextech Plc a major pay-TV provider in the UK.



The Bavarian Stupidity Contest

Sometimes I wonder who's more stupid – international news agencies or German politicians. Strangely enough, that question usually arises when it comes to pornography.

Reuters quoted Edmund Stoiber, premier of the German federal state of Bavaria, as saying "I am clearly opposed to the idea that with introduction of digital technology, basic programming standards will be obsolete." What he meant was this: "Pornography remains pornography and glorification of violence remains glorification of violence, even when they come into the living room digitally instead of by analogue means."

This is nothing but blurb, because both the public display of pornography and the so-called "glorification of violence" are criminal acts in Germany regardless of the medium used. As a matter of fact, the only analogue pay-TV channel in Germany, Premiere, almost had its license revoked temporarily for broadcasting movies a media authority (there's one of them in each federal state) deemed pornographic. (Yes, there are judicial standards about what's pornographic and what's not, but issues such as measuring erection angles is just beyond the scope of this so-called newsletter. Just to let let you know: most judges here think pornography starts at 45 degrees.)

Reuters: "Many German media analysts say that so-called 'erotic' programming has already helped fuel the expansion of digital television here, which is currently available as a pay-TV service."

Fact: There's no expansion of digital television here; the first such venture (DF1) will be dissolved by the end of the year owing to lack of subscribers. Neither soft-core porn, should there have been any, nor the recently announced Michael Schumacher channel during DF1's transmission of Formula 1 racing could avert that.

Reuters: "While sexually-explicit material can currently only be seen in Germany on standard television late at night, digital television could provide entire channels devoted to soft- or hard-core pornography."

Fact: Commercial German free-to-air channels sometimes offer soft-core pornography which can hardly by called "explicit." Any hard-core material is, as mentioned, banned from being shown in public by the country's criminal code. Broadcasting, whether pay-TV or not, is regarded as public display of such material and consequently illegal.

Nonetheless, officials from the TV conglomerate of Bavarian media mogul Kirch recently (Sat-ND, 3.8.97) demanded hard-core movies be shown on German pay-TV (hopefully knowing that this would make them become criminals under current laws.)


Wintel big in Japan

Welcome Billy bashers! Here's one more for you. Japan's Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said that representatives from Microsoft Corp, Intel Corp and Compaq Computer Corp will join the ministry's study group to set up a standard for Japanese digital satellite broadcasting.

Those three companies suggest two more digital formats – of course, they're PC compatible in order to facilitate the convergence of TV and computer technologies (which will not take place anyway, according to Microsoft's Pierre de Vries, director of advanced projects in the company's consumer platforms division: "TVs and PCs are not going to converge. They're not going to become one box." Well, make him Microsoft president instead of Bill Gates, he seems to know much more than him.)

Japanese consumer electronics makers and broadcasters are advocating technology that is closer current analogue TV systems. There had been a similar confrontation in the USA which even made the country's Federal Communications Commission give up any regulatory efforts, ruling instead that the market should decide (which means that viewers may end up with a TV set, or computer, they won't be able to use once the market has decided in the end.)

A spokesman for Japan's Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said all five of the formats to be examined by the Japanese study group could be approved. "The ministry may not make key aspects of digital TV technology mandatory," he said. The group is due to come up with an interim decision by the end of this year.

Japan plans to introduce digital satellite broadcasting in 2000 on its upcoming BS-4 broadcasting satellite.


P U K E !


Finally! Here's what you've all been waiting for: The list of satellites that just make you wanna puke your guts out. Thank you for all your contributions so far. If you have anything to add to this list, please do not hesitate to do so. Send your rants and raves to pck@Lynet.De. But admittedly it's going to be tough for any satellite system to replace Luxembourg's Astra system as the most-hated one among Sat-ND readers. Honestly, I expected that ;-)

Terrestrial links(!)

Our most hated 'satellites' didn't actually get launched, rather they got craned up onto towers and from their lofty perch spew out kilowatts of C band RF in the name of Telco's terrestrial links. These mongrel dinosaurs can TI overdrive an LNB held in the hand without a reflector and if you live in their transmit path then just forget about about C band satellite reception. So please, a few kilos of explosive persuasion!

Geoff Clifton, Australia


What can make a satellite more hated than for the whole world to try to jam its signal? That is obviously the case with Astra. Yes, its signal is constantly jammed by the whole world. And no, I am neither insane nor kidding. It is a fact admitted by Astra itself. In fact, it seems like they are so proud of it, that they illustrate it with fancy graphic and dump it right in the middle of their homepage, http://www.astra.lu

P.S. Their graphic designer was probably thinking about Eutelsat Hot Bird when (s)he was arranging the animation sequence :)

bpsc (The Netherlands, I guess) – webmaster@eurosat.com


Definitely: Kopernikus 23.5 deg E, because it's only used for cable networks!

Holger Zeissler, Germany

Intelsat 601

I'd love to see Intelsat 601 at 27,5° West get hit by a meteor or whatever, for here in Berlin, Germany, I cannot receive the west beam with my 120cm dish. Canal+1 & 2 Belgium plus Hallmark broadcast there all in the clear. However, help is on the way, I803 will be located there soon, but for how long??? Anyway, we still got the 5 Canal+ Scandinavia channels on Thor2 in the clear...

Matthias Mueller, Germany

Astra (and some Eutelsat)

Astra. I live in Crete, Greece. I have a 180cm dish and I can't get anything from that bird. I hate it. Why didn't Astra people think of this part of Europe and the Middle East. So FOR SURE ASTRA IS THE MOOOST HATED SATELLITE. now that I said it I feel better!!!

Sorry, I have to add something [although] I hate to. It is the Super beam of ALL EUTELSATS. I wonder why some channels use the Super beam. Is it cheaper? Do they care only for the western part of Europe?

Leonidas Klontzas, Greece

Astra again

Of course it must be Astra. My dish is pointed at it but I don't watch it for more than 5 minutes a month though. The reason why I use Astra is because I'm listening to a one radio station there (BBS Radio 1), and it is enough to justify the existence of Sat-TV for me.

Kestas Cerniauskas (Somewhere in the Baltic states, I guess, but I may be wrong as usual)

TV-Sat 2

The satellite I hate the most is TV-Sat 2. The damned thing can't keep a steady level and worst of all it doesn't have battery back-up!

Torrkulla Kaj, Finland

Above all, Astra

[3rd place] 62E Intelsat: I should be able to see the thing and virtually wave at it the actual horizon is so low here, but can I get a signal? Can I hell.

[2nd place] 8W Telecom: What a load of useless old junky channels – all in Secam, all in Syster, not a single radio station.

[1st place] Astra – or Sky's channels to be precise. There is nothing I would like more than to see Murdoch have to scurry across to Eutelsat and get installers up ladders taking dishes across to some real TV. I hope BSkyB's digital bird will go splash in the ocean before it ever gets to 28.2E.

Chris McWhinnie, UK


Copyright 09.97 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@Lynet.De. All rights reserved.
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