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A classified report from the U.S. Defense Department concluded scientists from Hughes Electronics Corp. and Loral Space & Communications Ltd. turned over expertise to China that significantly improved the reliability of China's nuclear missiles.
Scientists from the two companies took part in the investigation of one of the numerous failures of China's Chang Zheng (Long March) launcher. They didn't just find out what went wrong on February 16, 1996 when the Loral-built Intelsat 708 was lost, at least six people got killed and many more suffered injuries.
No, the friendly Americans in a 200-page assessment told the Chinese rocket makers how to improve other vital parts of their vehicles, such as the guidance and control systems. They were obviously unaware of the fact that the same technology can be used to improve intercontinental ballistic missile.
What's strange, though, is that U.S. President Clinton this year approved Loral's export of the same information about guidance systems to China -- even though China is known to share its rocket technology with what some U.S. media prefer to call "rogue nations" such as Iran.
Of course, it is nothing but one of those amusing coincidences that Loral chairman Bernard Schwartz according to The New York Times was the largest personal donor to the Democratic Party last year.
There is growing concern in India about the military capabilities of Pakistan which recently launched its Ghauri missile. The Hindu reported that the Indian military has submitted a proposal for a military surveillance satellite that, for instance, could gather more information on Pakistani missile launches.
India is known for its remote sensing satellites. The imaging supplied by IRS-1D has a resolution of 5.8 meters and is also offered commercially on the international market. The satellite would have no problems in making out missile factories and test sites as well as tracking facilities.
To identify single missiles would nonetheless require a resolution of less than 1 meter. While it may not be too difficult to develop the optical equipment for such a resolution, it may be a problem to get it into orbit. The weight of of such equipment increases disproportionately compared to the improvement in resolution.
The real problems were in developing a launch vehicle, the Hindu said. A comparable satellite, France's Helios-1 which offers 1-meter resolution, weighs 2.5 tonnes. India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) can put just 1.3 tonnes into a 600-km orbit. On its first flight last year, it also failed to put IRS-1D to the proper orbit.
India is also developing a Geostationary Launch Vehicle (GSLV) that could lift up to four tonnes -- although it's very unclear when the vehicle is ready. If the liquid boosters developed for the GSLV were added to the PSLV, its payload capability could probably be raised to about 2 tonnes.
According to reports, France's Canal+ has joined forces with the U.S. company @Entertainment in order to dominate the Polish pay-TV market.
French news agency AFP reported that Canal+ concluded a deal with @Entertainment for a joint launch of digital TV channels in Polish next September, citing sources close to Canal+ Polska.
The joint bouquet will be called Wizja TV, the same name that was planned for @Entertainment's 15-channel service due to be launched yesterday. [No idea whether it was. Can anybody enlighten me please?] Canal+ Polska had previously planned to launch a Polish digital package of their own at the end of summer.
AFP also offered some details of a transaction between Canal+ and @Entertainment but obviously mixed things up there. The essence of all that was that @Entertainment's fully-owned subsidiary Telewizja Kablowa Polska, operating Poland's largest cable TV network with 800,000 subscribers, will control both Canal+ Polska and the new digital platform which would be open to other Polish investors.
British Sky Broadcasting and Scottish Media Group will shut down their Sky Scottish pay-TV channel.
It was to be expected that the low demand outside of Scotland wouldn't justify the high cost of national satellite transmission. The channel is distributed to 80 percent of the 163,000 cable subscribers in Scotland. In the rest of the UK, it is available only on satellite.
Both companies attributed a low pay-TV subscriber market share for the decision.
The Indian TV broadcasting landscape is in for more changes after the new government has taken up work. It took the new Broadcasting Minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj just a month to earn her the title of "Genghis Khan of the electronic media."
One thing is for sure: things don't get easier for Keith Rupert Murdoch's Star TV as Ms Swaraj wants to ban alcohol and cigarette adverts, so far top revenue earner for satellite channels in that region. "The effect of such advertisements on young minds can well be imagined. Such a situation is not acceptable," Ms Swaraj was quoted as saying. Star TV would lose US$4 million if tobacco and liquor ads were banned, although such a ban could hardly be enforced except in Indian cable networks. On the other hand, there are more than one thousand of them.
It might also mean that there are more satellite dish bans to be expected -- currently, only Ku-band reception is interdicted in India.
Ms Swaraj's ideas of acceptable programming, however, are well known as the minister held the same post for a short time in 1996. Back then, she called for a crackdown on women news announcers with short hair, and attacked vulgarity in videos and movies.
Ms Swaraj has also signalled she wants sweeping changes to the board of the Broadcasting Corporation of India which the former government established to give state-run Doordarshan television and All-India Radio some kind of autonomy with the BBC as a role model in mind.
The Indian Parliament is expected to scrap the bill which established the Corporation so that the existing board can be sacked. New legislation introduced will then probably restore government control.
Sony Corp said it had no plans to seek a licence for a new digital high-power satellite broadcasting service due to start in Japan in December 2000.
Sony plans to concentrate on the medium-power service SkyPerfecTV for now, a spokesman said. The Japanese government is expected to issue six licences for digital TV channels, five of which are expected to go the five terrestrial networks which already have placed their bids.
Hong Kong's TVB will invest NT$547.4 million (about HK$128.8 million) into the establishment of satellite digital television broadcasting services in Taiwan.
Other participants in the joint-venture deal, expected to launch next October, include ERA International, which is connected to TVB and already offers television services to the Taiwan market, and All Asia TV, an affiliate of MBNS Worldwide.
The joint-venture agreement was expected to be signed in September, reported South China Morning Post. The broadcasting services will include establishing a direct-to-home satellite and terrestrial delivery platform in Taiwan.
by Dr Sarmaz
Once again, wouldn't life be boring without all those strange and surprising coincidences?
Just when UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was under attack for his close ties with U.S. media mogul Keith Rupert Murdoch and his British press empire, Tim Allan, one of Blair's top advisers has confirmed we will quit his job and work for -- guess whom -- KRM's British Sky Broadcasting.
One Conservative official was quoted as saying: "At least at BSkyB he will be working for Murdoch full-time. At Downing Street he was only working for the man part time." No wonder that his income will reportedly double to UKP80,000 p.a. when he will take up the newly created [!] role of director of BSkyB corporate communications.
After leaving Mr Blair's team on May 1, Allen will holiday in India and China before taking up his new role. Just another coincidence that KRM is interested in adding these particular countries to his almost global media realm?
British Digital Broadcasting Plc (BDB,) soon to offer digital terrestrial television in Britain, called on pay TV giant BSkyB to co-operate on the set-top boxes needed for digital television.
"BSkyB should stop litigating and start co-operating," said BDB director Nigel Walmsley in a statement after BSkyB's decision to issue a writ about the design of BDB's set-top boxes. The legal action might delay BDB's launch set for the last quarter of this year. Walmsley added that BSkyB's claims BDB's set-top boxes will not be compatible with their own is "unfounded."
As reported, BDB awarded a deal to supply the technology used in set-top boxes needed to decode digital signals to the Franco-German group SECA rather than News Datacom, which like BSkyB is a unit of media mogul Keith Rupert Murdoch's News Corp Ltd.
"SECA already interoperates with others in Europe and can do the same with BSkyB's system. All that is required is for BSkyB to agree to co-operate to finalise the technical arrangements," said Walmsley.
Reportedly, officials of both broadcasters have met last Friday to discuss the matter. At time of writing, no details were available. [News agencies seem to sleep over the weekend.]
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