Sat-Birmingham News Report #: 009
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TODAYS NEWS: Thursday 13th November 1997.
BSkyB's First Quarter Profits Down.
Lawmakers: Time To Change Copyright Regulations.
DirecTV Hopes Original Programming Opens New Doors.
Underwriters Exercise Purchase Option On EchoStar Stock.
Satellite For DirecTV Latin America Set For December Launch.
Sirius 2 launched successfully at 21:48.
BSkyB reported a fall in first-quarter profits, and said it expects
"flattish" results in the first half of its fiscal year as its launches
digital TV and pays for exclusive sports coverage.
BSkyB's pretax profits fell to 61.6 million pounds ($104.9 million) in
the quarter ending Sept. 30. The company reported 66.3 million in the
same quarter a year earlier.
The figures coincided with the company's annual meeting, where Mark
Booth officially took over as chief executive. Sam Chisholm stepped
down after serving seven years as CEO.
The meeting was attended by Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. is
BSkyB's major shareholder. Tributes for Chisholm and Booth were
delivered by BSkyB chairman Gerry Robinson.
Lawmakers: Time To Change Copyright Regulations
Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., hinted again changes may be made to
copyright regulations, including rules impacting home satellite
services, in an effort to promote competition in the multichannel
This time, copyright matters were discussed Wednesday in the Senate
Judiciary Committee headed by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who scheduled
hearings to discuss a report from the U.S. Copyright Office on
compulsory copyright regimes.
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the panel,
suggested it may be time to end the compulsory license. He said
Congress should "consider how best to create incentives for satellite,
cable and the broadcast industry to compete."
In his testimony before the committee, Chuck Hewitt, president of the
Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association, criticized the
recently-approved 27-cent fee for superstation and distant network
feeds delivered to satellite subscribers.
"It is critical that Congress comes to the assistance of the satellite
industry, if, for no other reason than to protect consumers from such
irrational rate increases," he said.
Hewitt also called for changes in the Satellite Home Viewer Act,
suggesting that copyright rates paid by satellite should mirror cable's
fees, which are much lower. He also said satellite's copyright license
set to expire in 1999 should become permanent.
He also asked for authorization that will allow satellite services to
retransmit local stations within their markets.
Hewitt found support from unlikely sources. Decker Anstrom, president
of the National Cable Television Association, said the 27-cent satellite
fee was unfair. Frtiz Attaway of the Motion Picture of America,
representing a large number of copyright interests, said he opposes
compulsory licenses, and said there is no evidence it benefits
The compulsory license scheme allows copyright holders to collect fees
for video products and content through money pools. Studios
represented by the Motion Picture Association of America command
about 70 percent of the royalties contained in both cable and satellite
Hewitt said copyright holders should be allowed to collect on use of
their creations, adding that satellite's contribution "is limited only
by the ability of our industry to attract new viewers, and our members
are working very hard to accomplish that goal."
DirecTV Hopes Original Programming Opens New Doors
DirecTV hopes its first encounter with original programming, an offering
titled Action Adventure Network set to debut next summer, will set it
apart from other multichannel viewers and push into other original
"We are always looking to do innovative things," said DirecTV's Bob
Marsocci. "We want to do things that will distinguish DirecTV from other
DBS services and cable as well.
"Hopefully, it will also open some doors to a number of opportunities."
Telescene Film Group, Richmel Productions and Goodman/Rosen
Productions is developing the $200 million-plus Action Adventure
Network for DirecTV, which will premiere next summer as
pay-per-view offerings from some of Hollywood's top producers.
It is the first original television movie and series offering for the
satellite broadcaster, and marks the first time a DBS service will have
an exclusive platform to premiere first-run entertainment prior to the
product being sold into syndication or other distribution platforms.
AAN signed executive production agreements - or is in final negotiations
- with John Landis and Leslie Belzberg's St. Clare Entertainment,
Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope and Steven deSouza, according
to the companies involved. All will provide feature-length, first-run
action-adventure episodes produced or co-produced by Telescene.
Coppola's first project for the venture is a contemporary version of
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" set in Hong Kong. The St. Clare project is an
update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyles's "The Lost World."
Additional AAN projects will be announced later this year.
In its first year, AAN will deliver four original two-hour initial
episodes with budgets averaging $3 million per picture. Production on
the initial programming package will commence in the first quarter of
1998. Each of the two-hour initial episodes will serve as the series
premiere for 20 one-hour episodes in year one, and 22 one-hour episodes
in years two and beyond.
Underwriters Exercise Purchase Option On EchoStar Stock
EchoStar Communications announced that Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette
and Lehman Brothers, underwriters of the company's recent offering of 2
million shares of 6-3/4-percent Series C Cumulative Convertible
Preferred Stock, have exercised their option to purchase an additional
300,000 shares of the preferred stock at the public offering price of
The net proceeds to the company from the Preferred Stock and
over-allotment exercise are expected to be approximately $175 million.
Money from the preferred stock will be used to fund the expansion of
EchoStar's DISH Network, marketing expenses and general corporate
Satellite For DirecTV In Latin America Set For December Launch
Monday, Dec. 8., is the scheduled date for the launch of Galaxy VIII-i,
a satellite that will help Hughes Electronics' Galaxy Latin America unit
expand its DirecTV service in Latin America.
The satellite is set for a 6 p.m. lift-off from Cape Canveral, Fla.
Galaxy Latin America Chairman Kevin McGrath and President Jose
Antonio Rios will host Hughes Chairman Michael T. Smith, Cisneros
Group Chairman Gustavo Cisneros and other dignitaries attending the
---------- Sirius 2 launched successfully at 21:48 last night
The adrenaline was rushing as the countdown reached T-10 seconds last
night in Kourou, French Guyana. At 21:48 UTC precisely, Sirius 2 and
Chakrawarta 1 successfully took off aboard Ariane flight V102. Sirius 2
was the first satellite to be injected into geostationary transfer
orbit, with Chakrawarta 1 following shortly afterwards. Sirius 2 will
provide 32 transponders of televisual enterainment to Northen and
Central Europe. Chakrawarta will be to first satellite in history to
provide the entire Indonesian archipelago with digital television. A
spokesperson from the Swedish Satellite Corporation (SSC) confirmed that
Sirius 3, the next bird to be placed at 5,2 degrees east, is planned to
be launched in October of 1998. Good luck on that venture. As for now,
we await confirmation of tests from Sirius 2 - if you got the time, get
looking at the different orbital positions. Sirius 2 is due to replaced
the aging Tele-X soon, which will probably be relocated in geostationary
The launch was cancelled on two occasions this week due to high winds,
although some reports are rumouring a fault with the craft itself.
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All contents (C) 1997 Neil Anthony Powell UK SATELLITE CONTROL
Some material (c) 1997 Dominic Sedghi, www.sat-net.com/sat-uk
and Skyreport (c) 1997 All Rights Reserved.
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Information is subject to change and/or may be incorrect.
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