Sat-UK #80: YOU WIN AGAIN...

Report from the Sat-UK mailing list:
Report #80
july 23rd 1997
The following may not be reproduced without written consent. Information
is subject to change and/or may be incorrect.
Email: dominic@bigrp.demon.co.uk . Homepage:
And now the news:

---------- BSKYB
In a winning move, BSkyB will now have influence in both the satellite
and terrestrial television markets.
Shortly before the licence was to be awarded for the rights to broadcast
digital terrestrial television in the
United Kingdom, BSkyB was threatened to be denied the rights to
broadcast unless it withdrew from its consortium with Granada and
Carlton, which was known as BDB (British Digital Broadcasting). The
other consortium was DTN (Digital Television Network), run by Flextech
and S4C.
Sky hastily did was it was told (?!), and withdrew from BDB. BDB was
awarded the licence, and will now be run by Granada and Carlton at a
cost of 75 million UK pounds. However, Sky has not lost out completely.
Granada and Calton have granted Sky the ability to use four of the
fifteen channels slots for themselves. These will be used for Sky 1, Sky
Movies, Sky the Movie Channel and Sky Sports 1. Sky 1 will be a regular
channel and the other three will be premium channels. Alongside these
will be Carlton Select, Carlton Films, Carlton Entertainment, Granada
Plus, Granada Good Life, Granada TV Shopping, Granada Sports Club,
Horizons, Showcase/Style, Public Eye and One TV. These will all be free
except the premium channels, which will be subscription.

To receive these channels, it will be necessary to purchase a digital
set-top decoder. But that's not all. DTT will use the same broadcast
standards as BIB (British Interactive Broadcasting - confused yet?!) -
BSkyB's digital package on Astra 2A. Thus, Sky subscribers will be able
to use their receiver to get both digital satellite and terrestrial TV.
Well done Sky. Not only that, but Sky's box will be able to receiver
Free-to-air digital transmissions (or so they say...), albeit probably
having to have a subscription card inserted to do so (yes, a Sky card to
watch free channels!), allowing 19,2 east dish users to access 24-hour
Cartoon Network, TNT and Travel (channels which may very well not be
part of BIB). The ITC has also ruled that Flextech/BBC, once they start
their package on Astra 2A, will have to use the same system as BIB - so
Sky subscribers will get that too - who doesn't want a Sky box? They'll
cost around 200 UK pounds and should be out early next year. BIB is
scheduled to start in early 1998, and BDB in the summer of the same

It's not yet known what transmission standard will be used. Possible
MPEG-2, which is already the European standard; or maybe the decision by
Sky to delay the launch of BIB slightly might mean that they're are
opting for the new MPEG-4 (MPEG-3 was missed out like C-MAC) which is to
be put into operation too. And which CAM? Snippets of information
gathered in the last few days suggest that receivers are being made will
IRDETO CAMs built in... perhaps Sky users will be able to access DF1,
Multichoice and Telepiu with a little tinkering... Whatever happens, it
will be encrypted - you'll need a smartcard and subscription.

For more information you can subscribe to the new Sat-Digital-UK Mailing
List at http://www.TELE-Satellite.com/ .

However, all this digital revolution is not stopping Sky at all. Having
(presumably) already taken control of Bloomerg Info TV UK, they have
lined up three or so transponders for analogue PPV television - later
this year, Galavision will reduce its transmission hours to around 12
hours a day, leaving the reast open for Sky PPV. Transponder 57 is also
on Sky's hotlist, and what about boring old transponder 24? Well, at
least Sky Sports 2 won't be suffering the dark invasions of Sky Box

---------- SHARP EYE
And now for a new segment in the Sat-UK Mailing List. Every so often
I'll be giving information on a different new satellite receiver or
appliance (often using material from other sources) which are being made
available in the UK. Today is Sharp's new satellite/cable VCR.

This clever device allows you to record your favourite satellite
programs on many different channels. The VCR communicates with your
Sharp receiver to change the channels at the times you wish. You can
perform multi-channel satellite recording, at different times! So you
can go out being safe of mind that your VCR/Sat will tape for you
Married with Children at 6:30 on Sky 1, the big match at 7:00 on the
sports channel and the midnight movie on the movie channel. And these
models are Channel 5 ready, avoiding the nast retuning business (but
would we expect anything less?). All models have VideoPlus, Sharp Super
Picture, Program Delivery Control and are NTSC compatible. Like all good
models, you can hook up external speakers, and some models even come
with a "Postcode Security System" to help deter theft. The VCRs only
work with Sharp satellite receiver models VC-M29HM and VC-M69HM, but no
doubt future models will be compatible. For more information, contact
Sharp on freefone 0800 262958.

All contents (C) 1997 Dominic Sedghi. All rights reserved.

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