Sat-ND, 1.11.97

Sat-ND, 01.11.1997  Now broadcasting with 80MB of power
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Today's Headlines
Ariane Flight 502 with glitches
Sirius sick
Lightning and leak delay Atlas launch
NATO TV in Bosnia?
Once more: EchoStar v/s News Corp
SatMex expands
Canada to end satellite monopolies
No pay-sports in Denmark
UKTV launched
The never-ending story of German regional channels
Eat the rich
Public radios unite
Jiang Zemin visits Hughes

Ariane Flight 502 with glitches
It may have been a beautiful sight, but as it turned out, the second 
test flight of an Ariane 5 launcher wasn't exactly what one would call 
One of the MAQSAT dummy satellites was not delivered to its proper 
orbit. The main engine of the rocket shut down some 10 or 20 seconds 
too soon which caused the MAQSAT to be deployed at a speed that was 
720 km/h lower than planned. Officials hurried to point out that a 
full-blown satellite could have reached the correct orbit utilising 
its own propulsion systems.
True. This actually happens quite frequently, but nonetheless it's a 
real problem as the satellite has to use valuable fuel for such a 
manoeuvre. In most cases, burning up fuel will shorten its operational 
There was yet another glitch: the main stage of the rocket did not 
plunge into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador. Two NASA 
planes, which were present there to track the rocket's fall, were 
waiting in vain. The main stage instead landed off the coast of New 
Guinea. So far, I haven't heard any explanation for that strange 
Loads of Flight 502 pictures and movies are now available at 

Sirius sick
Technical problems with Sirius 2 will delay the launch of 
"Scandinavian" satellite aboard an Ariane 44L, slated for November 7. 
The rocket also has the Indonesian satellite Chakrawarta on board.
According to Arianespace, the launch (Flight 102) will be postponed to 
at least November 10. The delay may also affect Flight 103 with 
Japan's JCSat 5 and the scientific satellite Equator-S, which date was 
given as December 1 (while other sources still say November 28.)
It's a bit strange when news agencies and such are still branding 
Sirius 2 a "Scandinavian" satellite. To quote a press release of GE 
Americom: "Through its GE Capital Satellites -- Europe subsidiary, GE 
Americom plans to expand service to all Europe via Sirius 2."

Lightning and leak delay Atlas launch
The U.S. Air Force has delayed a launch of an Titan 4A rocket on a 
"classified" military mission until tomorrow, Sunday, November 2.
There were two problems, actually. Number one: a lightning stroke near 
the launch complex a few days ago, so the rocket has to be checked for 
any damages. Number two: there has been a leak in the a control system 
of one of the solid rocket boosters. The system in question moves the 
booster nozzles in order to steer the rocket.
The launch is now expected on Sunday within a time frame of 7:45 to 
9:45 p.m. EST (Monday, November 3, 0045-0245 UTC). Don't hold your 
breath  there's only a 60 percent chance of good weather.
The funny thing about those "classified" missions of the U.S. military 
is that you can read all about it everywhere. The satellite that is 
probably on board is called Trumpet. Its main feature is a giant 
antenna the size of a football field that will eavesdrop on radio 
communications, mainly in Northern Russia.
Experts say there's no real use for it nowadays but the US$1 billion 
for the ear in the sky had already been paid. Weighing in at 6 tonnes, 
the spacecraft will probably be deployed to an elliptical high Earth 
orbit. It also carries the first EHF Polar Adjunct for the U.S. Navy.
Trumpet info: 

NATO TV in Bosnia?
NATO is not only a military organisation but apparently also a TV 
This is obviously what my favourite news agency tried to tell the 
world by reporting that "NATO restored television broadcasts in 
Bosnian Serb territory." For a political background that pleases you, 
please refer to the mainstream media.
However, there are two interesting facts. NATO TV, or whatever that 
channel is called, is distributed via satellite (no, sorry, no 
technical details available.) This will cost tax payers in Western 
countries hundreds of thousands of dollars.
On top of that, they even pay uninformed, ignorant and rather 
brainless morons who love to see themselves quoted as "diplomats who 
asked not to be named," claiming that utilising a satellite link would 
"ensure that no political faction can knock the signal off the air." 
Geez! That's complete rubbish, of course.
Jamming satellite transmissions is much easier than jamming wide-range 
terrestrial transmissions originating from various transmitters. 
Satellite jamming has happened before, ask for instance Med-TV; and it 
will happen in the future. Maybe in Bosnia?

By Dr Sarmaz
Once more: EchoStar v/s News Corp
EchoStar Communications Corporation has filed a complaint with the 
Federal Communications Commission against Fox/Liberty Sports LLC, Inc. 
Echostar accuses Fox Sports, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp Ltd., 
of unfair pricing and other practices.
In a nutshell, EchoStar said Fox Sports would demand higher 
programming prices from them than from "certain cable companies." In 
addition, Fox's practices included packaging requirements and tiering 
restrictions which EchoStar that were much more burdensome than those 
required of certain cable companies.
Vince Wladika, vice president of communications for Fox Sports, was 
quoted as saying his company has not yet reviewed the complaint and 
had no comment.

SatMex expands
According to press reports, Mexico's Solidaridad satellite will be 
used for international transmissions as from November 7.
The satellite will be used to beam signals to an International Book 
Show in Caracas, marking the first time transmissions are beamed into 
the Andean states.
Companies, banks and educational institutions in Bolivia were 
interested in leasing capacity the Mexican satellite systems for their 
purposes. An agreement between Mexico and Bolivia may still be signed 
this year, said Zeferino Olmedo Lopez, assistant director of 
commercial relations at SatMex.

Canada to end satellite monopolies
The monopolies for certain satellite transmissions in Canada will end 
soon following new legislation introduced by the country's government.
Meeting its obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in 
Services (GATS) Agreement on Basic Telecommunications, the government 
proposes the end of Telesat Canada's monopoly on fixed satellite 
services, by March 1, 2000. Telesat is 95 percent owned by Stentor, 
the phone consortium led by BCE Inc unit Bell Canada, and five percent 
by Spar Aerospace Ltd .
The bill will also end Teleglobe's monopoly on overseas telephone 
service by October 1, 1998.

No pay-sports in Denmark
Cigarette and beer prices aside, Denmark is a marvellous country that 
cares for its citizens. Especially when it comes to sports on free TV.
Cultural minister Ebbe Lundgaard has proposed legislation that will 
make major international sports events with Danish participation 
available on TV without paying any additional fees. The Folketing, the 
Danish parliament, is expected to pass the bill that makes the Olympic 
Games, the World and European Football [soccer] and handball 
championships available for all viewers. What's more, the new 
legislation calls for those events to be shown on terrestrial public 
Commercial channel TV 3 has announced to take the proposed law to the 
European Court. Talking to daily Jyllands Posten, Lundgaard admitted 
the law would restrict competition. He pointed out that Denmark was 
just complying with a EU directive that calls for national sports 
events to be made available to the audience at no additional cost.

For those who still waste their time watching TV: there has been a 
major transponder reshuffling today on the Astra satellite system as 
some pay-TV channels have ceased analogue transmissions. For a 
complete rundown of the changes, you should have subscribed to other 
mailing lists sponsored by TELE-satellite International such as sat-uk :-)

UKTV launched
The BBC's joint satellite venture with cable giant Flextech, UKTV, 
started today. It offers "quality" programming such as documentary 
channel UK Horizon, leisure channel UK Style, and drama and arts 
channel UK Arena. In addition, UK Gold, which has been around for five 
years, is being re-launched  now, for a change, with free access to 
the BBC archive.
BBC officials pointed out that no licence-payer's money goes into the 
new channels. UKTV pays for the BBC programming it uses, and any 
profits will be shared between the BBC and Flectech.
The transponder merry-go-round even left UKTV with an analogue Preview 
Channel providing a foretaste of the three new services free-to-air to 
three million of Britain's satellite homes. The BBC is also working on 
new free-to-air digital services. The first of them, BBC News 24, is 
expected to launch in the next few weeks. (All of this as will 
probably stay invisible on the Continent and in the rest of the world 
as Auntie Beeb also has even more commercial international ambitions. 
All this just to please Britain's license-fee payers... honi soit qui 
mal y pense!)

The never-ending story of German regional channels
While flipping though channels on Astra (which come in pretty bad as 
my motorised dish is still maladjusted following last year's autumn 
storms,) I noticed another interesting detail. Of course, most of the 
five transponders Spain's Sogecable gave up by going all-digital will 
be occupied by more German channels  the rest of Europe (except 
Greece where Astra can't be received without setting up monster 
dishes) has just been waiting for that. Hasn't it?
Anyway, the two transponders allocated to German regional channels 
show inserts claiming programming will start on January 1, 1998. One 
of those channels, ORB, however recently issued a press release saying 
it would launch satellite transmission December 1.
Is there any of those German regional channels without a satellite 
transponder? I think so, Berlin's B1 is still missing, as far as I 

Eat the rich
And then there was Germany's only analogue pay-TV channel, Premiere. 
They officially launched a digital service as well today, utilising 
the d-box that was declared the "national standard" decoder in 
newspaper ads by Premiere, its former rival Leo Kirch (DF1) and 
Germany's cable giant Deutsche Telekom.
Premiere officials said their digital offering was "the most 
attractive programming ever seen on German TV screens." And the most 
expensive. In theory, there is no additional fee for the digital 
bouquet  on the other hand, it doesn't offer anything but three 
time-shifted versions of Premiere's analogue service. To receive them, 
subscribers will have to rent a decoder for DM20 per month (or maybe 
buy one for DM1,200.) In addition, there are four pay-per-view 
channels available which, as the name indicates, are not available 
without additional payment.
All this on top of the monthly license fee of almost DM30 every owner 
of a TV set has to shell out, in addition to almost DM50 per month 
every Premiere subscriber has to pay, and maybe even in addition to 
cable fees. Premiere Digital will initially reach 61 percent of the 
country's cable households. In the worst case, viewers will end up 
paying the equivalent of US$75 per month  not for a premium package 
with dozens of channels, but just for Premiere Digital. Pay per view 
not included, of course.
Pay-TV managers seem to think there's quite a lot of idiots living in 
Germany who are looking for a more entertaining alternative to 
flushing their money through the loo. The problem is that in a large 
country such as Germany, even those idiots may be enough to keep some 
kind of digital pay-TV alive, hence depriving the rest of the audience 
of first-class programming.

Public radios unite
Public radio in the USA is called NPR, National Public Radio. Right?
Wrong. While NPR is the fundament of non-commercial radio in the 
United States, but another  smaller  system has evolved. Public 
Radio International (PRI,) previously called American Public Radio, is 
a spin-off of Minnesota Public Radio.
It's not a real competitor; PRI programming is distributed over the 
NPR satellite system anyway, and there has been some exchange of 
personnel after all. Nonetheless, both networks offer competing 
That may change as Minnesota News Network, which is affiliated with 
PRI, has confirmed that merger talks are underway even though they 
were just "in the initial stage." A merger could affect the cost of 
programming for local public outlets.

Jiang Zemin visits Hughes
Hughes Electronics Corp., subsidiary of General Motors, said in a 
press release it will host Chinese President Jiang Zemin at two of its 
Los Angeles area facilities tomorrow, Sunday.
President Jiang will arrive at the Hughes corporate headquarters in 
Los Angeles at 9 a.m. and will be greeted by Michael T. Smith, 
chairman and chief executive officer of Hughes Electronics, and John 
F. Smith Jr., chairman, chief executive officer and president of 
General Motors Corp.
After brief welcoming remarks by Mike and Jack Smith, President Jiang 
will tour displays of the latest in Hughes high-technology 
electronics, including DirecTV, DirecPC and live Beijing television 
via Hughes' PanAmSat satellite network. [How exciting.]
He then will be shown some funny cars by General Motors. Digital still 
pictures of the tour will be available at Hughes' Web site: 

Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights 
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