Sat-ND, 05.11.1997 Crushed by the wheels of industry
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DELAY OF THE DAY
GPS satellite launch delayed
The Popular Republic
Israel Aircraft Industries eyes Teledesic
US$20 million for seven years of broadcasting
ITN to take over EuroNews stake
DirecTV Japan: Small is beautiful
Toronto Subway Satellite
U.S. Air Force officials yesterday rescheduled the launch of a Boeing Delta II carrying a Navstar II-28 Global Positioning System Satellite.
The delay came after the launch team changed the planned rocket trajectory owing to upper level winds. Of course, the safety zone changed with the new rocket path. Range safety was unable to clear seafaring vessels out of the new safety zone by the close of the launch window.
A new launch attempt will be made later today. The 29-minute launch window will open at 7:08 p.m. EST (tomorrow, 0008-0037 UTC.) Live transmission will probably be available on Galaxy IX, transponder 22H, C-band. (By the way: Galaxy IX's launch on May 23, 1996 was delayed by thirty minutes because there was a shrimp boat in the safety zone. Just thought you'd like to know.)
There are two more launch delays: Ariane Flight 102 with Sirius 2 and Cakrawarta on board will be on November 11.
The launch of a U.S. National Reconnaissance Office satellite (probably Trumpet) aboard a Titan 4A was rescheduled for November 7.
Aerospatiale has delivered Sinosat 1, a telecommunications Satellite, to its Sino-German customer EurasSpace, acting for the Chinese company SinosatCom.
Prime contractor Aerospatiale built Sinosat 1 in its facilities in Cannes. The Satellite will supply a number of telecommunications services (television, telephony, data transmission between banks) to the entire territory of China, the Indochinese peninsula, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Sinosat 1 is the fifth Satellite using the Spacebus 3000 platform. It is a powerful three-axis stabilised Satellite with a lift-off mass of 2820 kg. Its 26-meter solar array will supply more that 5 kW to the payload consisting of 24 C-band channels (36 MHz bandwidth), and 14 Ku-band channels (54 MHz bandwidth). Two deployable 1.6 and 1.8 meter diameter shaped antennas, and one fixed shaped antenna 1 meter in diameter, will provide the coverage of this vast zone from an orbital position at 110° East longitude on the geostationary orbit for a lifetime of over 15 years.
Sinosat 1 will be launched by Long March 3 B [on January 25, 1998] from the Xichang launch site in the Popular Republic of China. It is the sixth spacecraft that Aerospatiale has built since the beginning of the year.
[Any translation software involved? This is an almost unedited press release by France's Aerospatiale. Blimey, I didn't know that communist China is so popular over there in France! Perhaps they meant Populous Republic of China? ;-]
Since the launch of Amos 1, state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) is also known as a satellite builder. IAI now hopes for a US$500-million subcontract to provide the Teledesic satellite system with electronics, stabilisation and control systems.
Using almost 300 Low-Earth orbit satellites to set up an "Internet in the sky," Teledesic is mainly a joint venture of billionaires Craig McCaw and William Henry ("Bill") Gates III with Boeing as prime contractor for the space segment, as US$-100 million investor, and as 10-percent shareholder.
Newspapers quoted IAI managing director Moshe Keret as saying "We submitted a proposal for supplying a number of systems. We have a proven ability and we hope to receive a piece of this big project."
However, IAI is not alone. Among the companies hoping for a slice of the Teledesic pie (total cost now US$10 billion) are Honeywell of the United States, Japan's Mitsubishi and Germany's DASA, press reports said.
[My favourite news agency by the way dubbed Teledesic "Internet in Heaven." That would, in my opinion, mean something slightly different. Rest in peace!]
Here's a bit more on one of the new commercial radio channels in Hungary, thanks to Emmis Broadcasting.
Emmis International, the majority investor in Hungaria Radio Rt. has been awarded a seven year license to operate a new national radio network in Hungary as part of the first radio privatisation in this country. Emmis International is a wholly owned subsidiary of Emmis Broadcasting Corporation, one of the largest radio broadcasters in the United States.
The station will commence broadcasting in early 1998. Hungaria Radio Rt., which includes minority investors Credit Suisse First Boston Equity Group, Kvantum Investment Bank, the investment bank of the Kereskedelmi es Hitelbank group, and Magyar Hirlap Rt., will pay US$20 million to the government to operate over the course of the seven year license.
Emmis International sees an "enormous growth potential" in the market. In 1997, total advertising spending is projected at $460 million, with radio's share at eight percent or approximately US$36 million.
The Hungarian radio landscape now consists of two national radio stations, Hungarian public radio, and a series of regional and local stations. As a strategic investor, Emmis International said it intends to capture a significant share of that market.
Says Martin Greenberg, Emmis International President: "We are assembling a great Hungarian radio station to be run by Hungarians at the highest level of broadcasting standards, with research already in the field to determine audience preferences for this new franchise."
In its ongoing foray into television, Microsoft Corp. seems to have changed plans not generally, though.
Even in the U.S., some 60 percent of households still can live without a personal computer, and hence without Microsoft software. Broadband services via cable, preferably received by set-top boxes running under Windows CE, could mean new business.
While a few weeks ago reports suggested the software giant may invest US$1 billion in cable monolith TCI, it now seems more likely that the money goes to U S West cable unit Media One. The investment would buy Microsoft as much as 6.3 percent of US West's cable business, the New York Times reported.
The paper said that talks between Microsoft and US West were moving quickly, and that Microsoft hoped to announce a deal this month. The TCI deal, on the other hand, seems more or less dead as Microsoft had second thoughts about TCI's 39.5 percent stake in @Home Networks, a potential Internet access competitor.
Last June, Microsoft invested US$1 billion in Comcast Corp., the nation's third largest cable operator, for an 11.5-percent stake. In addition, Microsoft took over WebTV for US$425 million. Cable channel MSNBC is a 50/50 venture of Microsoft and NBC.
When French Communications Minister Catherine Trautmann said today that British commercial news provider ITN was the sole bidder for a 49 percent stake in the pan-European TV service EuroNews, it was by no means a surprise (Sat-ND, 27.10.97.)
Answering questions in the National Assembly, Trautmann said that "The ITN group has undertaken to buy 49 percent and, under the agreement, the public television group will keep its 51 percent stake. Any modification of the capital will have to preserve this balance." The 'public television group' mainly consists of public broadcasters from France, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.
Although this construction has in the past allowed EuroNews to tap the vast news resources of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU,) the channel has nowhere in Europe gained notable acceptance even though 83 million viewers in 38 countries can (in theory) receive it. EuroNews is expected to record revenues of FF187 million and a loss of FF30 million this year. According to Trautmann, the channel is expected to break even in 2000.
ITN, owned by Reuters, United News, Carlton, Daily Mail & General Trust and Granada, will take over the 49-percent stake from French Alcatel Alsthom. All major decisions (concerning not only the overall budget but also considerable expenditures as well as the broadcast languages) will have to be approved by the majority shareholders, i.e. the public broadcasters. The channel's headquarters will remain in Lyon, France. Commenting the deal, minister Trautmann said she believed "France's interests will be preserved."
Japan's digital TV service DirectTV , a partnership between Hughes Electronics Corp's DirecTV International Inc, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd and other Japanese companies, will not offer 90 channels at launch on December 1 but just two thirds of them.
Even though Japan's Posts and Telecommunications Ministry had given permission to offer 90 channels, DirecTV said it would not be able to offer that many, saying that some content providers were not ready for the December 1 launch.
By the way: DirecTV in the USA has just recorded its three millionth subscriber. The digital TV service now reaches one in 33 U.S. households. [I thought that wasn't worth a full-blown article in this so-called newsletter.]
I took a ride on the Toronto Subway some years ago. What I still remember is that the train got stuck for half an hour. I just don't know why, but that ride did not quite convince me of the reliability of Toronto public transport. Apart from that, I had no further complaints :-)
Anyway, if you happen to be at Bloor-Yonge Subway Station, northbound platform tomorrow (November 6,) you will have the unique opportunity to see executives of Telesat Canada, playing around with a large model of Canada's first direct broadcast Satellite. That is, at least between 8:00-9:30 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m. local time. Oh, and of course: No need to pay a fare!
They will also kick off "a national Satellite contest with a prize that's literally 'out of this world.'" That probably means they will engrave the winner's name somewhere on that satellite to be launched in ten month's time. Anyway, the company said it will anyway update Canadians on progress in building that bird.
Yesterday, I wrote that UK "satellite subscribers will reportedly need to buy a new dish to receive British Sky Broadcasting Plc's planned 200-channel digital satellite TV service."
Gregory Adams-Tait comments:
"My understanding is that the same dish could be used but with a new arm attached to it to refocus on the new position. This may or not be true, may or may not work, and may cost as much as a new dish, but that's what I was told."
As for the new dishes: well, that's why I said "reportedly." The dish has to be re-aligned in the first place. Taking the all-digital nature of the signals into account, perfect dish alignment is almost impossible to achieve without some kind of signal-strength measuring equipment. As you may know, digital transmissions can either be received or not; there's nothing in-between (in contrast to analogue TV that lets you to judge transmission quality with the naked eye.) So, you might want to consult a professional to have your dish readjusted, and that indeed may cost just as much as buying a new dish.
Secondly, the introduction of digital TV on the Astra satellites indeed required viewers on the Continent to replace their old LNBs with so-called Universal LNBs that not only have an extended reception range but also offer improved stability of their local frequency oscillator, which is necessary for digital TV reception. Frankly, I don't know what frequency range the Astra/Murdoch satellites will use initially. Even if they use frequencies that in theory can be received with conventional LNBs, existing outdoor units may or may not be capable of receiving digital signals once realigned.
"You may not know it, but Comet (one of the major retail chains) is currently giving away a dish and decoder to anyone who spends £200 in their stores. I assume that Sky -- BIB will give away the first million digital boxes to establish the system... just what Kirch or any of the others in the rest of Europe needed to do but couldn't face the incredible cost."
This is indeed where we see Leo Kirch with his tail between his legs, so to speak. I think there are subsidies in other European countries as there were in Germany. Leo Kirch's miraculous d-box was subsidised with some DM300 in the beginning, bringing the price down to DM900. Now the gadget is sold for DM1,200 which seems to be the real price. You can rent one, though, for a monthly fee of DM20.
All that is not so very important, however, as the digital TV cartel set up by Kirch and its former arch rival Bertelsmann, which incorporates the d-box as a "national standard," will (hopefully) be smashed by either the German cartel office, the country's media authorities, or by the European Commission soon. The funny thing is that without such a cartel, digital TV has no chance in Germany. At least, I definitely hope so!
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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