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November 14, 1997
Welcome Sat-ND subscribers!
GE-1E launched as well
Spacenet 3 on the move
Apstar IIR ready
UFOs over Japan?
REAL-LIFE GPS APPLICATIONS
Jail at home thanks to GPS
GPS to catch pirates
LAW & ORDER
Palestine on satellite
Canada's ExpressVu rewards patriotism
Australis wants A$2.4 billion
Rupert on pay-per-view
Lachlan to follow Rupert
QUENTIN'S QUESTION TIME
U.S. TV in Australia?
BBC reception legal in Belgium
ITV, BBC in Belgium
As that so-called newsletter is unavailable today owing to email attacks supposedly from the Benelux region, or maybe from a well-known British broadcaster?, you will instead receive this complimentary copy of Quentin J Esrom's famous electronic Serious & Sensible Satellite Newsletter (SSSN) that has been serving the satellite and media industry for more than 25 years.
Sat-ND will be back as soon as Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg have become part of the United Kingdom, finally allowing legal reception of UK TV channels there. Quite an interesting perspective should Scotland and other parts of the UK finally want to become independent.
Also note that some capital Ps may appear lower-case owing to technical problems in today's issue of SSSN. Please accept our sincere apologies.
Ariane Flight 102 did not put two satellites (Cakrawarta 1 and Sirius 2) into orbit as a so-called newsletter reported yesterday. Actually, there was a third one aboard: GE-1E at least according to a press release by GE American Communications (GE Americom,) a GE Capital Services Company.
GE Americom will provide 16 high-powered Ku-band transponders for the European television market. Nordiskasatellitaktiebolaget (NSAB) will provide Sirius 2 service on an additional 16 transponders to the Nordic market. The satellite will be located at 5 degrees East when it becomes operational by year-end. GE-1E will have 16 high-powered transponders with pan European coverage.
GE Americom said it will provide high-powered satellite transponder service as a cost-effective alternative for European Direct to Home operators, broadcasters and programmers delivering service to cable head-ends. GE Americom's service will be capable of delivering either digital or analogue television to small dishes from portugal to Western Russia and from England to the Middle East.
"The launch of GE-1E in Europe demonstrates GE Americom's growing international presence," says Andreas Georghiou, Senior Vice president of Global Satellite services. "Europe has welcomed GE's value-added approach in providing satellite service solutions tailored for each customer's specific needs," added Mr. Georghiou.
The press release did not mention unparalleled rejoicing, welcome parades and ongoing celebrations in major European cities. Well-informed sources told SSSN that's probably because there weren't any.
GE Americom also announced the inauguration of Spacenet 3 satellite service at a new orbital position, 83 degrees West.
Spacenet 3 was moved to its new position when GE-3 became operational at the previous 87 degrees West orbital position. Spacenet 3 has a total of 14 C-band and 1 Ku-band transponders available for service to the cable, broadcasting, business TV and data market segments. The satellite's C-band transponders will have access to 4 million C-band backyard dishes, and according to GE Americom is ideal for targeting cable distribution as well.
Apstar IIR will officially be put into service soon after its passing all in-orbit tests, reported news agency Xinhua.
Operated by APT Satellite Holdings Limited, a Hong Kong-based satellite operator, Apstar IIR was launched on October 17 aboard a Chinese Chang Zheng (Long March) 3B rocket. It arrived at 76.5 degrees East on October 27. The in-orbit tests finished today showed complete compliance with each prime specification and that the satellite was ready for normal operation, Xinhua said.
Built by Space Systems/Loral of the United States, the satellite is equipped with 28 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders and has a design life of 15 years.
Fishermen in southern Japan saw a shining object fall into the ocean last night. Nobody knows what it was. Are the aliens coming? Scary!
Japanese coast guard officials originally said they believe it was a fragment from a Russian satellite launcher that was expected to fall in northern Japan. The Japanese National Defence Agency however did not register any Russian spacecraft fragment, a spokesman said. If there was any, it must have burnt during re-entrance of the Earth's atmosphere.
Observers saw spots, shimmering with orange light, in the skies over the Kushiro area, an "unknown luminescence" and a bright "falling star" in southern Japan.
The Russian Mission Control Centre rejected reports that a fragment of a Russian satellite could fall near Japan. News agency Itar-Tass was officially assured by the centre that "there are no changes in space orbits. All orbital spacecraft operate in full composition, and nothing fell and will not fall in the near future." They obviously did not comment about rocket fragments.
Anyway, you may want to keep in mind that at this time of year the Leonids meteorite shower is expected. Besides, there are more causes for spectacular displays on the night sky. For instance, when the U.S. recently put another spy satellite into orbit, the Titan 4A launch vehicle vented its remaining fuel upon completion of the mission. This is a precautionary measure to keep it from exploding and consequently creating dangerous space debris. In that case, the fuel venting manoeuvre created some spectacular lighting effects, too.
Pro Tech Monitoring, Inc. today announced the implementation of its satellite-based offender tracking system by the Florida Department of Corrections.
On October 27, corrections officials began using the system to monitor movements of offenders serving community-based sentences in Florida's Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.
The Satellite Monitoring and Remote Tracking (SMART) System was developed by Pro Tech Monitoring, Inc., a company founded by former Florida Governor Bob Martinez. The SMART System uses the U.S. military Global Positioning System (GPS) and cellular data communications to pin-point the real-time location of offenders when they are enrolled in the system and are serving sentences in the community.
Pro Tech Monitoring reports brisk demand for its tracking system and claims it has received requests for demonstrations from other nations' corrections officials, too.
Piracy is by no means a thing of the past, especially not in South-East Asia. GPS offers a solution, experts say.
The executive director of commercial crime services for the International Chamber of Commerce, Eric Ellen called for the shipping industry implementing "a simple satellite tracking device to monitor the position of all ships."
This would fight at least one of the many facets of modern maritime crime, the use of "phantom ships." Vessels are stolen by pirates, re-painted, re-flagged and used to transport stolen goods. Monitoring the ships' position could prevent such cover-ups, Ellen said.
He added that "such a system would not only defeat the fraudster but would provide ship owners, operators and law enforcement with desperately needed information."
The future Palestinian state has been allocated frequencies in the Broadcast Satellite Service (BSS) band at the current World Radiocommunication Conference (WARC) in Geneva.
An accord reached for direct-to-home satellite broadcasting in Europe, Asia and Africa reserves five channels for Palestine. It is the first time that the future independent state has been allocated frequencies.
"The use of those channels will be possible when a joint decision is made by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, " said Francine Lambert, spokeswoman of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU.)
Samir Baker, a Palestinian delegate, was quoted as saying the move was "very important for the Palestinian people, for their aspirations, to have our own channels in the future." An Israeli delegate reportedly said "It is something positive."
ExpressVu Inc. will offer Canadian 'grey market' satellite dish owners a credit on programming equal to the before tax purchase price of their ExpressVu set-top box and dish.
It's simpler than it sounds. Consumers who purchase ExpressVu's model 3500 for a suggested retail price of C$599 will get back C$599 as a programming credit. Consumers who purchase the model 4500 for a suggested retail price of C$749 will get back (guess how much) C$749 as a programming credit. The credit must be used at a minimum monthly rate of C$35.95 for French programming and C$45.95 for English programming. Subscribers may also purchase ExpressVu's a la carte services for an additional monthly charge.
ExpressVu's grey market offer applies to all DirectTV, EchoStar and primeStar subscribers located in Canada. "Grey market dish owners tell us they miss being able to watch Canadian networks, news and sports, and are frustrated with the hassle and cost associated with maintaining a false U.S. address, paying for programming in U.S. dollars, and the risk of having their grey market dishes turned off," said Michael Neuman, president and CEO of ExpressVu Inc.
The ExpressVu grey market repatriation offer is valid from November 15th, 1997 until March 31st, 1998. Programming credits will be arranged when customers call ExpressVu to activate their new system. Once activated with ExpressVu, former grey market subscribers must return their grey market set-top box along with proof of purchase of their ExpressVu system and a programming or hardware bill from their grey market service provider dated prior to November 15th, 1997.
by Dr Sarmaz*
Pay-television operator Australis Media Ltd, which is in immediate danger of becoming insolvent, has filed a writ in the New South Wales Supreme Court against Telstra Corp and News Corp Ltd seeking damages of A$2.4 billion.
An Australis spokesperson said "We're seeking release to require Telstra to complete the cable roll-out past four million homes, as we agreed with them. If they don't we're seeking damages of A$2.4 billion." Telstra meanwhile cut the target to 2.5 million homes a decision Australis says damaged its business. Telstra has denied it had any obligation to Australis.
The legal action comes in the aftermath of the failed merger of Australis with News' unit Foxtel and Telstra's decision to curb its planned cable roll-out. According to Australis, Telstra had paid News Corp compensation of more than A$300 million so that Australis, too, was eligible for compensation.
Australis says the claim arises from a programming deal it struck with Foxtel in March 1995. It ensured programming revenues would rise as Foxtel's subscriber base grew and assumed Telstra aimed to roll out cable network past four million homes by mid-1999.
BSkyB announced it will start offering pay-per-view movies to its satellite TV subscribers from December 1.
The service will be rolled out on the last four analogue transponders BSkyB has at hand on the Astra satellite system at 19.2 degrees East. One top movie will be shown on each of those transponders respectively, for just £2-99 per viewing.
In the digital age, half of BSkyB's planned 200 channels at 28.2 degrees East will be dedicated to air ten movies around the clock for pay-per-view.
Mr Murdoch by the way thinks that the introduction of pay-per-view football [soccer] is not immanent. "Pay-per-view throughout the world has only worked in a big way for huge boxing matches. When it comes to pay-per-view on a more regular basis, it is much more difficult," he was quoted as saying.
The issue of succession at News Corporation will be resolved after his death, the company's executive chairman Mr Murdoch said yesterday after BSkyB's annual meeting in London.
Mr Murdoch however added he intended "to stay alive for a while." He said the issue of his succession would finally be resolved "a month or two after I die."
Mr Murdoch confirmed that his eldest son Lachlan, chief executive of News Corp's Australian operations was selected by the three Murdoch children from his second marriage as his successor to run News Corp.
Mr Murdoch also called for a restructuring of the pay television industry in Australia. "There has got to be some restructuring, some simplification, given its huge losses. Everybody has been losing bundles. It's crazy."
Commenting upon the broken down Foxtel-Australis merger, Mr Murdoch said "We weren't going to give them [Australis] a blank cheque for twelve months. We were prepared to give them a short-term cheque if you could get a result in a month or six weeks."
Mr Murdoch also confirmed he will continue his ferocious newspaper price cutting war in the UK. He reportedly said his rival newspaper proprietors "insult me every day. They can go to hell!"
I was wondering if I purchased a DBS system like DirecTV in the U.S and shipped it to Australia will I be able to watch it in Australia even though I pay for the subscription in the U.S?
I would appreciate if you can tell me what U.S. programs or Sats I will be able to get in South Australia.
You should've asked Dr Sarmaz instead. Anyway, I am pretty sure a U.S. DTH unit will produce no pictures at all in Australia. You won't be able to access U.S. DTH satellites there anyway; the do cover just the U.S. If you want some satellite pay-TV in Australia, the articles by Dr Sarmaz in this issue of SSSN should be proof enough that nobody really knows what will finally be available once the dust has settled. My advice: don't buy anything yet.
I live in Belgium and a few years ago the BBC ordered our cable companies to remove their signal because we didn't pay any copyright fees. The Belgian Cable operators then reached an agreement with the BBC and so we can still receive BBC but on our bill we get an extra item for the copyright, which is for all the stations we receive (about 30), about 500 Belgium Francs I think. So reception of BBC programming is legal in Belgium.
Jos Nijs explains why ITV is indeed available in some parts of Belgium.
ITV (Meridian) is only distributed in the west of Belgium (from Ghent on westwards), only by cable companies who can pick up the ITV signal themselves without a digital distribution system. I think there are copyright problems for Benelux-wide distribution. But for the ones who do carry ITV... it's only logical that you can carry all signals available on VHF-UHF isn't it?
Jos also knows how Auntie Beeb gets onto the Continent:
Most cable companies still use the Belgacom-PTT Telecom system: a relay station (Calais) that picks up BBC1 and BBC2 from the Dover transmitter. Distribution from Calais to the cable companies is still analogue. But soon there will be a new relay station (probably in Belgium) that will distribute BBC1&2 by optic fibre. Or... how about encrypted satellite distribution? ;)
What about the financial side then?
If the cable companies pay the BBC, that's a nice extra income for the BBC. If they don't.. well, nothing to worry about: Dutch and Belgian TV networks still buy BBC series, as much as or even more than other networks around the world. There would definitely be a lot of protest if the BBC was to disappear from our cable networks... after all it's been distributed for over 20 years.
* Dr Sarmaz appears courtesy of Sat-ND Records, Inc.
Copyright 1997 by Quentin J Esrom & Associates. All rights reserved. No nonsense tolerated. Please refrain from any comments.