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the world the message flies
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(Jesus Jones, "Zeroes and Ones")
November 17, 1997
Welcome once again!
Satellite to replace terrestrial communications?
New digital box for the Netherlands
Toshiba to power SS/L birds
Lost in France
Telstra listing to fund environmental projects
LAW & ORDER
Law Enforcement Entertainment
Commercial radio to hit Austria
More satellite-to-PC services next year
DELAY OF THE DAY
Auntie Beeb in Benelux The truth revealed
The Zheng Zone
EU respects "Freedom of Expression"
h4ck3r p0wer v/s Girl Power
You may be surprised to receive SSSN for the second time within a few days. Mr Klanowski let me know that he is very busy as he started writing a book titled "The history of British television channels on Belgium, Dutch and Luxembourg cable networks."
However, we are convinced Sat-ND will be back tomorrow as SSSN can exclusively reveal the whole story today. You will find our Benelux correspondent's in-depth report buried somewhere in this issue.
Thank you also for your inquiries about SSSN subscriptions. To quote just this one from L.J.W.F. Koeleman, CEO Koeleman Satellite Communications Management Services, Inc.:
"I would like to express my appreciation for your service. Judging by this single issue, I would rate it far superior to this so called news service sat-nd. Is there any opportunity to subscribe to your news service?"
Yes there is please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that while from time to time SSSN may be offered as a replacement for Sat-ND at no charge, the full SSSN news service is not freely available. Don't worry, we have a very attractive introductory offer for first-time subscribers: For one year, you will receive SSSN for a monthly subscription fee of just US$999. You can't beat that price!
"Strategic research" from international marketing consulting company Frost & Sullivan shows that "the satellite communications industry has undergone a positive transformation in recent years." Is this the end of cellular and other wireless services?
The satellite business is not the same anymore. "Trends including liberalization of international communications regulations, improved digital technologies, and declining hardware and service prices have spurred strong commercial growth in an industry that traditionally has served only governments, the scientific community, the military, and very large corporations.
"Substantial price declines in satellite services for both air time and handset prices are expected to be comparable to cellular costs by the next century. This development is expected to take market share away from cellular, PCS, paging and other wireless technologies especially in countries with inadequate or congested terrestrial wireless networks.
"'Satellites and other wireless technologies will likely co-exist for some time. However, satellite technology has an inherent advantage in its ability to provide wide area coverage for international, regional and for large in-country communications for nations such as China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and Russia, to name a few,' says Telecommunications Industry Analyst Megan Marek. Combine this with competitive pricing and an expectedly converging global protocol standard, and satellites may prove to be a preferred solution in the long-run."
Matsushita Electric (UK) Ltd. and ComStream announced today that ComStream's digital satellite TV IRD (integrated receiver decoder) design has been introduced in the Netherlands under the Panasonic brand name.
The DVB (digital video broadcast) satellite TV receiver, also known as set-top box, is jointly engineered and marketed by Matsushita Electric (UK) and ComStream, and manufactured in Cardiff, Wales.
Distribution to Dutch retail outlets will begin mid-November. Sales are expected to commence soon for the soon for the 1997/1998-winter season. All digital TV IRDs, known as Panasonic model TU-DS10/nl, that will be purchased before Christmas in combination with a one year Canal + TV subscription, will receive an additional two month Canal + subscription for free.
It's not exactly cheap, though prices start at 1,799 Dutch guilders (U.S. $945). Projected annual unit sales for all digital satellite TV IRDs in the Netherlands market is estimated at 50-80 thousand units. Panasonic expects to have a significant market presence with this new generation digital IRD/set-top.
The digital TV IRD is compliant with international DVB standards, which allows the product to receive hundreds of compressed MPEG-2 video signals. Sold under the Panasonic brand name, the IRD is configured for the CA (conditional access) system in the Netherlands market. However, the IRD flexible hardware and open-architecture software design will facilitate various TV distribution systems and different CA and EPG (electronic program guide) modules.
Panasonic, together with National and Technics are brand names for Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd, which is one of the world's leading producers of electronic and electric products for consumer, business, and industrial use.
ComStream, a wholly owned subsidiary of Spar Aerospace Limited, is an international provider of digital transmission solutions for voice, data, audio and video applications.
Toshiba Corp. has signed a contract with Space Systems/Loral to supply solar array panels for space satellites for the next three years.
According to news agency Kyodo, the Japanese electric machinery maker will begin providing the panels to in July 1998 for use in three digital audio broadcasting satellites ordered by CD Radio Inc. the first of which is due for launch in 1999.
Toshiba expects annual sales from its commercial satellite business to reach ¥10 billion by 2000. The SS/L contract makes up for more than ¥2 billion. Since 1982, Toshiba has supplied SS/L with panels on a number of individual projects, including panels for two satellites that were launched this year, the company said.
In its plan to expand space-related business through the commercial satellite market, Toshiba announced it will invest more than ¥1 billion to reinforce designing, manufacturing and testing facilities.
Time Warner's Warner Bros has (finally) decided to exercise its buy option for 10 percent of CanalSatellite, the satellite television service owned by French pay TV group Canal+.
The option was due to expire at the end of this year. Canal+ chairman Pierre Lescure told financial daily La Tribune the option would be granted by means of an increase in CanalSatellite's capital. "This is a major event, because the biggest film studio in the world is joining us in satellite television," Lescure told La Tribune.
Lescure also commented upon the Italian pay-TV venture Telepiù which Canal+ took over by buying Nethold. The problem is that at the time of the Canal+/Nethold merger, the prospective number of Telepiù subscribers had been overestimated. Thus, Canal+ now expects some compensation by Nethold's former owners, Richemont and MIH Holdings.
Lescure also said he would be talking to Bavarian media mogul Leo Kirch, who sold his 45 percent stake in Telepiù to Canal+ last summer, about possible compensation.
Through an initial public offer by the Commonwealth of Australia, shares in Telstra Corp. Ltd. the principal telecommunications carrier in Australia and one of the country's largest companies were today listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Shares in Telstra also began trading overnight on its home market, the Australian Stock Exchange. The company is now a partially privatised enterprise, with approximately one third of its shares publicly traded and two thirds of its shares still owned by the Australian government.
A total of about 4 billion of Telstra's 12.9 billion shares have been offered to investors. The A$14.3 billion (approximately US$10 billion) in proceeds realised by the Commonwealth from Telstra's partial privatisation will provide funds for the retirement of debt and will fund major environmental projects throughout the country.
With operations in traditional local, long-distance and international telephony, Telstra carries more than 90 percent of all calls in Australia and serves virtually all Australian homes and a substantial majority of Australian businesses. The company is also Australia's largest mobile telecommunications carrier, with more than 2.8 million customers.
If you live in the USA and are subject to search and seizure actions by federal law enforcement agencies, you'd better check your look in the mirror before they kick in your door. However, a recent court ruling may save you from involuntarily becoming a TV personality.
It has become common practice that TV camera teams accompany law enforcement action. That may change soon as an appeals panel of three federal judges ruled against a motion that would have dismissed a claim by a Montana rancher and his wife against CNN News and the Federal Government.
Claiming that their Fourth Amendment rights against improper search and seizure were violated when the feds allowed video coverage by CNN of a raid on their ranch, the couple seeks compensation of US$10 million.
It seems they're on the right track: the court said that the government had misused the search warrant, which was for law enforcement only, and instead turned the action into "entertainment."
One of the last European broadcast monopolies will come to an end on April 1, 1998. Austria has issued licences for eight regional and 42 local radio stations, mostly to the country's leading publishing houses.
It's not a real surprise, though, that German companies will be involved. Take, for instance, the country's capital Vienna. There will be two commercial radio stations: Radio Eins and Antenne Wien. Radio Eins' major shareholder is the tabloid Kronenzeitung German publishing house WAZ controls 50 percent of the company. Antenne Wien will be operated by daily "Die Presse" and weekly "News" where German publisher Axel Springer Verlag AG holds a 25 percent controlling share.
In the federal state of Niederösterreich, Radio Privat Niederösterreich has been granted a license. Bavarian commercial broadcaster Antenne Bayern holds a 16.75-percent stake in that venture.
Unfortunately, it is rather difficult for Austria to maintain an independent media industry. Recently, the public broadcaster ORF had to reduce the RF power of one of its terrestrial outlets drastically. German commercial channels complained that south German viewers would be able to catch almost the same programming from ORF's two channels, but without commercials.
However, as all TV broadcasts (including terrestrial outlets) will become digital sooner or later, there's no reason to complain. Once every channel has been converted to digital, every broadcaster will have perfect control on who's allowed to watch a single channel by either scrambling the signal or using individual addressing.
Adaptec Inc. (the manufacturer of your SCSI card, if you have any) and CyberStar, a Loral Company, announced a strategic relationship that will bring data services and Internet content to office and home PCs via low-cost satellite adapters.
Adaptec is building satellite-to-PC adapters for direct connections between CyberStar's data and Internet communication services and PCs. With the Adaptec Satellite Express ABA-1040 PCI-to-satellite adapter, CyberStar services will deliver real-time multi-media content and high-speed Internet access to consumers and businesses globally. CyberStar will introduce these satellite-based services in 1998.
CyberStar will provide businesses and consumers low-cost, on-demand access to a high-speed satellite network that is compatible with existing PCs and network protocols. The CyberStar service will allow users to access the Internet at high-speeds, broadcast large data files and multi-media information on demand, and at low costs.
The Satellite Express ABA-1040 is a PCI-to-Satellite adapter for connecting a user's PC to receive data, audio, video and other multi-media content including web sites and Internet content. It delivers up to 30 Mbits/second of data from satellite services directly into PC-based systems.
CyberStar is a limited liability partnership created and managed by Loral Space and Communications Ltd. Beginning in mid-1998, CyberStar services will support high bandwidth Intranets, Extranets, and virtual private networks. For consumers, it offers high speed Internet access, and a plethora of personalised content.
So much about the official statement. Please note the "up to" in "up to 30 Mbits/second." That may work with pre-stored content but may not be the average speed when you access the real-life Internet with all its bottlenecks. Besides, there is not a single hint in the press release that indicates this would be a bi-directional service. That means you would still need a traditional Internet access (via modem or ISDN) to tell Cyberstar what to beam to your reception antenna.
[By the way: there will be bi-directional Internet satellite services sooner or later, but don't hold your breath if you have to maintain Web Sites on remote computers, for instance. The upload capacity of those systems will be much lower than what you may expect and might not even come close to old-fashioned 14.4k-modems. That's good enough for browsing the Web but not good enough for uploading some megs of files. Don't say you haven't been warned.]
Japan has postponed the launch of its H-2 rocket carrying an Earth observation satellite because of the failure of its timer, the National Space Development Agency (NASDA) said.
The H-2 launch, originally scheduled for early Wednesday, aims to put into orbit a satellite to measure tropical rainfall, NASDA said. "We are going to send the rocket as soon as we fix the problem," a spokesman for the agency said.
By Robert Briel
The situation with UK terrestrial broadcasters on Dutch and Belgian cable nets seems to be confusing, doesn't it? SSSN untangles the confusion.
Long time ago, when there was no satellite television worth mentioning available to cable operators, Dutch and Belgian cable nets were searching for new channels to fill their networks with. Amsterdam operator KTA for instance erected a huge antenna to pick up BBC terrestrial transmissions from the UK. Of course, the remote reception varied a lot, and subscribers were complaining about bad reception. In Flanders, cable networks also received terrestrial UK television, not only BBC but also ITV and Channel 4.
Enter the Belgian Belgacom and Dutch PTT. They decided to distribute the British TV signals to cable networks who were interested in these channels. Of course this could not be done without permission of the broadcaster. So discussions between the UK channels and all other interested parties were started.
The result was that BBC agreed to have their signals distributed to those cable networks that could in theory receive their signals of course in return for a handsome fee per cable subscriber. ITV and Channel 4 decided the money wasn't enough and declined. That's why BBC 1 and BBC 2 are available all over Holland and Belgium and ITV and Channel 4 are only available along the Belgian coastline, where anyone can receive the signal with a simple dipole.
The situation is not unique: in the Netherlands, the signals from BRTN1 and BRTN 2 are distributed via microwave to cable networks all over the country. This service is known as BVN Broadband Video Network, a service from PTT Telecom to Dutch cable operators.
By Dr Sarmaz*
Rupert Murdoch's Hong-Kong based Star TV faces indecency charges in India. Company officials will appear before an Indian court next Thursday on charges that Star TV aired obscene movies.
A court judge found evidence of "toplessness" (probably of female actors) in movies titled "Strip To Kill," "Big Bad Mama," "Dance of the Damned" and "Jigsaw Murders." Star TV said the movies have "certificates" that allow them to be shown throughout India.
Looking at those movie titles, I think there's something else fundamentally wrong with them. The may all hinge upon how to bring human beings from life to death, which even under dictatorial regimes is a far worse crime than displaying topless girls (or guys.)
It remains one of the greatest mysteries of the human nature why fictional homicide is a major source of entertainment on TV while sexual intercourse, and we all are a result of that admittedly disgusting procedure, is banned from being displayed in most countries. (If you're the result of a virgin birth, please drop me a note. I'll forward it to the Pope immediately.)
by Grandpa Zheng**
You shouldn't believe everything you hear... especially when it comes to the Internet.
Rumour has it that the world's leading manufacturer of lawnmowers, QUACKCOMM, announced a holiday price reduction of its world class Moodora Pro(TM) 3.0 software. For a limited time, consumers would be able buy Moodora Pro 3.0 for an estimated price of U$29, which is a decrease from the previous average street price of $59. Consumers should check with their local retailer as estimated prices may vary.
With 18 million users, the Moodora(R) family of software products was the world's most popular Internet e-mail solution for the Windoze, Hackintosh(R) and Newt(R) platforms.
Guess what? Not a single bit of that is true! Consequently, you
won't find any information regarding the Moodora family of products
The European Commission will reportedly promote self-censorship as universal remedy against Internet smut I mean, legal but explicit material that minors should not be able to access.
It seems there will be no legislation introducing censorship to the Internet of course not because it wouldn't work. The EU Commission has instead come to the remarkable decision to respect the "fundamental democratic principles of freedom of expression and respect for privacy."
The Commission will reportedly call for all kind of everything such as warning pages [very deterring indeed!], descriptive labelling, filter software or systems to check ages of users. All of these are totally different measures that have one thing in common: they usually can be overcome by today's computer generation.
Is censorship the answer? No, as I said, it wouldn't work. It's about time somebody reminded the parents of their responsibilities. Same applies to TV where the EU Commission will reportedly ask the broadcast industry to experiment with new means of protecting minors and informing viewers. It gives no specific suggestions, though.
Poor Spice Girls! All those rumours about the band splitting up... and if that just wasn't enough, there's more bad news: their official Web page was subject to a mean hack attack last Friday.
But here's the good news: although the original content of the page was meanwhile restored, you can still have a look at what I would call the skinhead version of the Spice Girls, which is definitely more sexy than the original:
Dr Sarmaz appears courtesy of Sat-ND
** Grandpa Zheng appears courtesy of Q'n'D Productions
Copyright 1997 by Quentin J Esrom & Associates. All rights reserved.
Bang bang you're dead!