Sat-ND, 21.12.1997 It's only me, it's not my mind
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What's happened so far
Perfect Sky in Japan?
KOUROU, French Guiana, Dec 20 (Reuters) -- A technical problem delayed the scheduled launch in French Guiana on Saturday of Western Europe's 104th Ariane rocket carrying Intelsat 804.
The countdown was stopped three times for reasons such as software problems and a bad pressure reading in the rocket's third stage. French Guiana operations director Roger Solari was quoted as saying the cause of the problem was minor. A new launch attempt will be made today at 9.16 p.m. local time (Monday, 0016 UTC.)
Intelsat 804 will provide voice, video and data service to the Indian ocean region. The 3.5 tonne satellite was built in the United States by Lockheed Martin Telecommunications.
USELESS FACT: Panama hats come from Ecuador, not Panama.
Pretty adventurous. Intelsat, the International Satellite Communications Organisation, has chosen Arianespace and the Ariane 5 launch system for three Intelsat IX satellites, continuing their "pioneering tradition."
Arianespace would of course deny it, but this is the first important contract for Europe's new launch system, which is slated to put three Intelsat IX satellites into geostationary transfer orbit as from 2000. All launches will take place from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The Intelsat IX series is manufactured by Space Systems/Loral in Palo-Alto, California. Their average mass at lift-off is 4275 to 4725 kg, too much for most rockets available today. They will be Intelsat's largest capacity satellites and will carry 44 C-band and 12 Ku-band transponders for multi-purpose telecommunications services over the Indian and Atlantic ocean regions.
With these three new contracts, Intelsat has now entrusted 21 satellites to the European launch service provider. Arianespace now has 44 satellites on order to be launched worth about US$3.6 billion.
USELESS FACT: The number of possible ways of playing the first four moves per side in a game of chess is 318,979,564,000.
While Sat-ND as a whole is pretty useless, the "Launches" section is getting especially useless simply because there will probably be satellite launches every day in the future, which will make the whole stuff absolutely boring.
Of course, Iridium is a good example for that. A Delta II rocket successfully carried five Iridium satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on December 20. The launch, Iridium LLC's ninth in eight months, brings the total number of orbiting Iridium satellites to 46.
The launch took place at 5:16 a.m. PST, within the five-second window necessary to place the five satellites into proper Low-Earth orbits. This was the last Delta II launch of 1997, a year in which 10 successful missions carried 34 spacecraft into orbit.
The five satellites are part of Iridium LLC's 66-satellite wireless telecommunications network designed to offer full global coverage through a variety of communications services, including voice, data, fax and paging.
And that's it. Would you want to read something like that every day?
USELESS FACT: Lorne Greene had one of his nipples bitten off by an alligator while he was host of "Lorne Greene's Wild Kingdom."
Satellite operator Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Ltd said its third geostationary satellite will be launched aboard a Russian Proton launch vehicle on Monday, December 22, 2318 UTC.
The company had scheduled the launch of AsiaSat 3 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2318 GMT on December 22, it said in a statement. The satellite has 28 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders that cover over 50 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Australasia.
AsiaSat 3 will be positioned at 105.5°E to replace AsiaSat 1, which has a technical reach of over 220 million people in the Asia Pacific region. AsiaSat 3 will take over operations from AsiaSat 1 before it reaches the end of its operational life in 1999.
USELESS FACT: It snows more in the Grand Canyon than it does in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The U.S. Department of Transportation revoked the commercial launch permit for Orbital Sciences Corp's Pegasus booster but reinstated the launch license later.
Regulators discovered that the company had redesigned the launcher's fourth stage, prompting the license suspension. Reportedly, it was the first time that one of the more than 80 U.S. commercial launch permits had been revoked.
On Friday, Orbital said in a press release that "The U.S. Department of Transportation has reinstated our launch license after all recommended software modifications were made and approved." It said the company was "now in final preparations for the launch of eight Orbcomm satellites [sic!] aboard the company's Pegasus rocket." Once the aircraft and rocket [which will be launched from the aircraft in flight] arrive at Wallops on Saturday, and complete the standard final pre-launch tests, Orbital's goal is to conduct the launch on Monday, December 22, or Tuesday, December 23rd.
USELESS FACT: Six ounces of orange juice contains the minimum daily requirement for Vitamin C.
News agency Itar-Tass reports that two first stages the very first Start-1 rocket ever fired from Russia's Far Eastern cosmodrome Svobodny were discovered this month in the Amur Region, Russian Far East, and Yakutia (Sakha,) Eastern Siberia.
One could guess from the fact that it took ten months to find the fragments that they came down over rather remote, unpopulated regions. Commissions which have meanwhile inspected the sites confirmed that the fragments of the space rocket did not done any harm to the environment and landed exactly in set areas.
The findings of the commissions enabled Yakutia and Russia to renew a contract between the Russian Defence Ministry and the Yakutian government on the use of part of the republic's territory as a dump area for burnt-out rocket stages (Sat-ND, 1./3./4.3.97.)
Itar-Tass said that are no obstacles now for the second lift-off of a Start-1 rocket from Svobodny with the commercial imaging satellite Early Bird aboard, scheduled for December 24.
The first Start-1 launch from Svobodny sparked off protest among the Yakutian public, claiming that the launches would pose a threat to people's health as well as the environment. Russia maintained its position that the Start-1 rockets were running on solid fuel that is completely consumed before the empty rocket stages hit the ground.
USELESS FACT: It is a criminal offence to drive around in a dirty car in Russia.
The failure of the German-built "Inspector" satellite that was to examine the Russian space station Mir from the outside (Sat-ND, 17.12.97) has sparked of a bitter dispute between space experts from both countries.
Nobody has officially raised any criticism, of course, but nonetheless the Russians have rejected claims by some German officials that allegedly complained the Mir crew screwed the whole experiment up. Russian officials said at the same time they weren't aware of any criticism from the German side.
However, satellite manufacturer Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA) did not agree with announcements from the Russian side that the Inspector satellite now was nothing but space junk. DASA said on Friday it established contact with the probe, saying all its systems were operating. It would circle the globe for at least nine more months and supply data and pictures (but probably not close-ups of Mir, and that's what the Inspector was built for.)
USELESS FACT: Germany holds the title for most independent inventors to apply for patents.
The winning consortium in bidding for Mexico's satellite system, Autrey-Loral, should have paid US$688 million as the second instalment for Mexico's satellite operator SatMex by December 17 but hasn't done so.
Infolatina reported that the companies blame "the Asian crisis," which had made it impossible to issue debt and raise the cash needed. Autrey-Loral has until December 31 to pay, but meanwhile must pay interest on the amount. The first third of the sum had been paid by Autrey-Loral last November (Sat-ND, 19.11.97.)
USELESS FACT: One-third of black men in the US between 20 and 29 years old were in prison, on parole or on probation in 1996.
Raytheon Company announced last January it had entered into definitive agreements with Hughes Electronics Corporation to bring about the merger of the Hughes Electronics defence operations (Hughes Aircraft) and Raytheon (Sat-ND, 16.11.97.)
The deal was overwhelmingly approved recently by shareholders from Raytheon, Hughes and Hughes' former parent General Motors (the world's largest car maker, which divested itself of Hughes' defence operations to better focus on its automotive business.)
Raytheon last Wednesday completed the US$9.5-billion merger in a complex equity transaction that will transform Raytheon into a more than US$20-billion company that is the nation's No. 3 defence contractor after Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which is currently seeking government approval to merge with Northrop Grumman in an US$11.6-billion deal.
As a result of the Raytheon merger, Hughes Electronics has now become a mere telecommunications and satellite broadcasting company that General Motors intends to retain. Earlier rumours saying that GM may sell Hughes' satellite business were probably just that: rumours.
USELESS FACT: Bulls are colour-blind, therefore will usually charge at a matador's waving cape no matter what colour it is.
Very good news from Denmark: the country's first and only pay-TV sports channel, TVS, will be shut down at the end of this year after less than three months of operation!
The channels had been set up by Denmark's public broadcasters in co-operation with the Danish Football [soccer] Association. Instead of the expected 200,000 subscribers, just 10,000 were crazy enough to shell out extra money for pay-TV. As a consequence, pubcaster and main TVS shareholder TV Danmark refuses to pump any more money into the channel. So far, Dkr300 million have been invested into the channel.
Another reason for the sudden death of TVS is probably proposed legislation that will make major international sports events with Danish participation available on terrestrial free-to-air TV without viewers having to pay any additional fee (Sat-ND, 1.11.97.)
USELESS FACT: Volleyball is the most popular sport played in American nudist camps.
British Digital Broadcasting (BDB), a 50/50 joint venture between Granada Group Plc and Carlton Communications Plc, said it had been granted initial 12-year licences to operate digital terrestrial television (DTT) services.
BDB chairman Michael Green enthusiastically announced that "For the first time, people will be able to receive multi-channel TV through their existing roof-top aerials. No dish, no cable;" but, may I add, at least a set-top box is needed to convert the signals.
What is it all about? My favourite news agency made it quite unclear when they said "Digital TV offers greater channel choice, improved picture quality and online services such as home shopping." True and false, of course, bust mostly false:
There will be a greater channel choice, but by no means a greater content choice. Instead, all that multi-channel stuff is just about recycling material that's already available; it's about better exploitation of broadcast rights. It serves the program providers, not you.
The "improved picture quality" is nothing but a lie; digital TV will look worse than a strong terrestrial signal. (At best, you won't notice any difference, especially if you can't find your glasses.) If your antenna produces a rather weak analogue signal, chances are that you won't be able to receive any digital transmissions at all. There is no such thing as a weak signal in Digital-Land, there is either a sufficiently strong signal or no picture at all.
And all that interactive blurb... well, it's all there. Watch QVC and order some stuff over the phone. It can't get any more interactive than that unless you want to replace your tele with a PC.
But never mind the facts, back to business. The ITC made it a condition that BDB limits agreements with programme providers to a maximum length of five years. BDB had been planning to enter a seven-year contract with BSkyB, which incidentally was part of the BDB consortium but had to leave it following competition concerns (Sat-ND, 10.7.97.)
The ITC also said that BDB must be allowed to compete with BSkyB even though BDB investor Granada owns more than 10 percent of the satellite pay-TV broadcaster.
USELESS FACT: According to a British law passed in 1845, attempting to commit suicide was a capital offence. Offenders could be hanged for trying.
Home Box Office will begin offering a new Romanian-language premium television service to cable subscribers in Romania in January 1998. Romania represents the second largest cable market in central and eastern Europe with 2.5 million subscribers.
As part of HBO's initial cable distribution, the service will be available to 83,000 subscribers in the Transylvania region in Cluj-Napoca and in Alba-Iulia.
The Romanian pay-TV service will begin offering subscribers 12 hours a day of commercial-free programming, seven days a week. The schedule will feature films, documentaries, sports and music events, subtitled in Romanian. [No, they didn't say whether they would air "Dracula," "Dance of the Vampires" or "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."]
As with HBO's seven cable channels in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, HBO's Romanian service will be digitally uplinked from Budapest and carried on the Israeli satellite AMOS-1.
In September 1991, the launch of HBO in Hungary marked the first launch of an HBO channel outside of the U.S. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Home Box Office has partnered with United and Philips Communications BV to produce local-language channels for cable TV, and since November 1994 has produced a Czech-language movie-based premium channel.
Home Box Office began offering a new Polish-language premium service to cable subscribers in Poland -- the largest market in Central Europe -- in September 1996. In April 1997, Sony Pictures Entertainment became a partner in the venture.
Anja's Roman Polanski homepage <http://www.danbbs.dk/~anjal/polanski.htm>
USELESS FACT: Laid head to claw, KFC chickens consumed world-wide would stretch some 440150 kilometres. They would circle the Earth at the equator 11 times or stretch from the Earth approximately 80152 km past the moon.
Originally, Telesat Canada wanted to raise leasing rates for satellite transponders by almost eleven percent in 1998, if I were to belive a press release of theirs. The Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) followed in principal a proposal filed by the company earlier this year but nonetheless said it had to lower its rates by 7 percent effective 1 January 1998.
The Commission generally accepted Telesat's forecasts, but made a few adjustments, revised some of Telesat's forecast expenditures downward by 2 percent, made certain cost allocation changes, etc. As a result, the expenditures associated with Telesat's direct broadcast satellite (DBS) venture were excluded from the rates customers pay for RF channels.
Following this review, the Commission determined that a 7 percent rate decrease is in order. This rate decrease will lower the cost of satellite utilisation for broadcasters and telecommunications service providers, Telesat said in a press release.
USELESS FACT: In 1977, a 13-year-old boy discovered a tooth growing on his left foot.
Plans of German media and telecom giants KirchGruppe, Bertelsmann and Deutsche Telekom to create a German digital TV monopoly will probably be subject to an even more close scrutiny than until now.
EU commissioner Karel van Miert said that there were so many complaints that the proposed strategic alliance (others call it just a shameless monopoly) would be subject to "Phase Two" of the proceedings. It means that the deal will be subject to investigation for four more months, which is only allowed if there is sufficient doubt whether a deal would seriously harm competition within the European Union.
Van Miert did not want to comment on reports that German chancellor Kohl himself had tried to exert pressure on the EU commission to have it pass the proposed Kirch/Bertelsmann/Telekom monopoly. Kohl is known to have close ties with Leo Kirch, founder and owner of KirchGruppe. Without the help of Kohl's so-called Christian Democrats, Kirch probably would have never become the one and only German media mogul. However, his new-found partner Bertelsmann is usually regarded a fellow-traveller of the opposition Social Democrats.
As reported earlier, Bertelsmann stopped selling Kirch's d-box to subscribers of its Premiere Digital pay-TV service following intervention of the EU commission (Sat-ND, 13./14.12.97.)
USELESS FACT: German Kaiser Wilhelm II had a withered arm and often hid the fact by posing with his hand resting on a sword, or by holding gloves.
Domestic TV channels serving two countries simultaneously are not only rare, they're also pretty difficult to operate. Take, for instance, the only such channel I know of: arte, a public cultural channel serving both France and Germany.
There have been quite a few problems in the past, mainly regarding the leading personnel of the channel. The latest row, however, was sparked off by the German side. Viewing habits there differ from those in France; where prime time starts at 8:45 pm while in Germany viewers expect the good stuff to start half an hour earlier.
However, viewing habits differ in many other ways, and that includes the fact that French arte viewers outnumber their German counterparts by far not necessarily because the French are so much more into culture, rather because the channel is available terrestrially in France while German viewers have got to have either cable or satellite to receive it.
German pubcasters ARD and ZDF were trying to adjust arte to German viewing habits; maybe unaware of the fact that arte is all but popular in Germany, or maybe in attempt to change just that. Anyway, a compromise has been reached. There will be an 8:15 pm slot as well as an 8:45 slot. At 8:15 pm, a daily half-hour documentary on European issues will be aired while the real prime-time programming will start at 8:45 pm just as before.
USELESS FACT: Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno mag.
This service is brought to you by Sex-NDTM, a brand new newsletter published by Q'n'D Productions.
A hard-core porn channel called "Plus 21" is set to launch in India next month, offering "tantalising stripteases" and other [presumably heterosexual] "attractions," local papers reported.
Suresh Kumar, chief of the Indian company Global Internet Ltd. which is marketing Plus 21, told a news conference that the channel would go on air at the end of January. Kumar said the daily seven-hour telecast, beginning at 11 p.m. (1730 UTC), would progress from "an X-rating to triple X-rating."
Kumar said London-based company ANC International, which owns Plus 21, had decided to include programmes featuring "Punjabi, Tamil and other South Asian porn stars" in the Asian telecast. "The service will be transmitted across Asia from Indonesia to Pakistan, from Sri Lanka to China through the Intelsat and will be carried on major Asian broad band cable systems," he said. "Indian viewers will no longer have to put up with bad quality videos."
Kumar denied that the channel would violate India's broadcasting laws on obscenity. "Regulations governing the operation of private channels clearly indicate that they are allowed to telecast adult programmes after 11 p.m." Indian media laws are however still under development, and even kissing was taboo in Indian films until recently.
As reported by Dr Sarmaz in SSSN, 17.11.97, Rupert Murdoch's Hong-Kong based Star TV faces indecency charges in India just because 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."
An Indian court last Friday summoned the chief executive officer of Star TV on the charges. The Delhi High Court asked the foreign ministry to order Gary Davey, who heads the Hong Kong-based network, to appear before the court on January 28.
USELESS FACT: A penguin only has sex twice a year. (Did you know that a penguin is also the mascot of the operating system Linux? Find your own explanation for that strange coincidence!)
The Lebanese government has called a meeting of top security official to discuss sex on TV, which obviously is regarded a threat to national security.
In recent months Lebanese TV channels reportedly have been testing the frontiers of traditional taboos, broadcasting talk shows dealing almost exclusively with sex, including topics as premarital sex, homosexuality, incest and paedophilia.
Information Minister Bassem Sabeh threatened offending TV stations with legal penalties if they continued shocking viewers.
Leaders of all religions in the Lebanon that not too long ago were engaged in a bitter civil war, be they Christian, Moslem or Druze all want the programmes stopped. Well, what about some good clean fun then, such as another civil war so people won't watch those shocking programmes because they're just too busy killing each other?
USELESS FACT: In New Jersey, USA, it's illegal to have sex with the lights on.
The patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church launched a strong attack against "moral decay" on the country's television.
In rare criticism of state institutions, Patriarch Alexiy II told Moscow parish priests and lay officials that Russian television had shown contempt for the church by screening Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ," a 1988 film that depicts Jesus as a normal man with sexual desires. [Maybe the sound track by Peter Gabriel is a bit more interesting than the film. Anyway, the movie was subject to controversy in Western countries as well.]
NTV's refusal to give in to church complaints prompted suggestions from some believers that the screening was a deliberate insult to the church by NTV head Vladimir Gusinsky, who is president of the Russian Jewish Congress.
"ORT [majority-owned by the government] is joining the chorus," complained the patriarch. Other ORT shareholders include influential Jewish business tycoon Boris Berezovsky.
"The orthodox conscience, still less that of a cleric, cannot accept legalising pornography, prostitution and the sexual 'education' of schoolchildren," Alexiy said.
USELESS FACT: Sex burns 360 calories per hour. (Per hour? Very funny indeed.)
Cambodian premier Hun Sen ordered cable television operators to stop broadcasting sex films, claiming they were counterproductive to the government's fight against AIDS.
"This is a public order. The Ministry of Information must tell the owners of the cable TV companies to immediately stop showing sex films. They encourage people," Hun Sen said in a speech to Ministry of Health officials. [He did not elaborate on what they encourage people to do exactly.]
The premier complained that while there was only little airtime available for broadcasts warning of AIDS, some cable channels available in Phnom Penh show foreign sex films late at night for up to six hours.
USELESS FACT: According to the World Health Organisation, there are approximately 100 million acts of sexual intercourse each day, probably quite independent from what's on TV.
by Dr SarmazTM
Currently, Mr Murdoch is in Japan once again. So it probably was not just a coincidence when Japanese financial daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported that Japanese satellite broadcasting companies PerfecTV Corp and Japan Sky Broadcasting, partly owned by Mr Murdoch's News Corp, are expected to merge in February.
The paper said Mr Murdoch and representatives from his Japanese partners in JSkyB (Sony Corp, national network Fuji Television Network Inc and publisher Softbank Corp) proposed the merger at a meeting with PerfecTV officials. Such deal would create the largest direct satellite broadcasting platform in Japan.
Its only rival for the time being would be DirecTV Japan, owned by DirecTV International Inc, a division of Hughes Electronics Corp. and Japanese video rental chain Culture Convenience Club Inc. DirecTV Japan was launched on December 1, albeit with less channels offered than expected.
Sony Corp, also a PerfecTV stake holder, would likely be the largest investor in the joint PerfecTV/JSkyB venture. PerfecTV is expected to accept the merger proposal next week and the two companies hope to reach a basic agreement by the end of January, the paper said.
PerfecTV has been in operation for a little over a year and has about 410,000 subscribers, while JSkyB was expected to go into operation next April.
USELESS FACT: In Japan there's a place called O.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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