Sat-Na March 3rd 1997
DTH SERVICE FINALLY AVAILABLE TO CANADIANS
AlphaStar Canada Inc. has won the race to become
Canada's first market-ready provider of digital direct-to-
home (DTH) satellite television service. The Canadian Radio-
television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced
that it has awarded AlphaStar Canada broadcast and pay-per-
Company officials said the AlphaStar Canada
broadcasting network is already on-the-air, and starting
immediately, Canadian viewers will be able to purchase
hardware and subscribe to the service.
``We have begun shipping digital set-top receivers and
satellite dishes to dealers across Canada,'' said David
Lewis, President of AlphaStar Canada, ``and customers will
be able to access up to 45 channels as soon as their
equipment is installed.''
By the end of March, AlphaStar subscribers will be able
to choose from a line-up of 75 channels (35 video, 30 audio,
and 10 pay-per-view), including both English and French
services. By mid-Summer, when the network begins
broadcasting from AT&T's new Telstar 5 satellite, up to 120
channels will be available. The video broadcast line-up will
include all major Canadian television networks, as well as
most approved American services and several international
The AlphaStar Canada package_which consists of a digital set-
top receiver ``box'' and a 75-centimetre diameter satellite
dish_will sell for $499.00 when purchased with an annual
$300.00 basic programming package.
English Channels French
CNN CANAL D
ABC 30 DMX
30 DMX channels
Expanded service English Expanded
MUSIQUE PLUS CANAL-D
DISCOVERY MUSIQUE PLUS
CANAL-D CANAL FAMILLE
CANAL FAMILLE 30 DMX channels
CBC MUSIQUE PLUS
CANAL FAMILLE PBS
RDS 30 DMX channels
PAY SERVICES/A LA CARTE
FAMILY CHANNEL + WGN + WTBS
ASIAN TELEVISION NETWORK (ATN)
ATN + WGN + WTBS
SUPER ECRAN + WGN + WTBS
The News Corporation Limited and EchoStar
Communications Corporation have formed a new Direct
Broadcast Satellite alliance designed to mount vigorous
competition in the subscription television market.
News Corporation will contribute to EchoStar cash,
satellites and other assets of News Corporation's American
Sky Broadcasting having a total value of $1 billion in
return for 50% of the equity of EchoStar. MCI
Communications Corporation will own 20% of News
Corporation's 50% interest, or 10% of EchoStar.
The DBS transponder capacity at the orbital slots
currently licensed by EchoStar (which includes the use of
91 transponders at 61.5 degrees, 110 degrees, 119 degrees,
148 degrees and 175 degrees Western Longitude orbital
locations) and MCI (which includes the use of 28
transponders at 110 degrees West Longitude orbital location)
will be made available for use by EchoStar. The EchoStar
DBS business will continue to be headquartered in
Englewood, Colorado and will operate under the trade name
Sky, which is utilised by News Corporation's DBS services
around the world. EchoStar is expected to spin off to
existing shareholders certain assets, including its
manufacturing and international businesses.
Charles W. Ergen will continue to serve as the Chief
Executive Officer of EchoStar. Rupert Murdoch, Chairman
and Chief Executive of News Corporation, will serve as
Chairman of EchoStar. Carl Vogel will serve as Executive
Vice President of EchoStar. Paul Haggerty, currently the
Chief Financial Officer of ASkyB, will be named Chief
Financial Officer of EchoStar.
Preston Padden, Chief Executive Officer, of ASkyB has
been named President, Worldwide Satellite Operations for
News Corporation. In this capacity, Mr. Padden together
with Mr. Murdoch, will oversee News Corporation's
investment in EchoStar and Mr. Padden will have primary
responsibility for co-ordination of News Corporation's DBS
systems around the world. Mr. Padden will report to Chase
Carey, Co-Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation.
The new Sky service is expected to include 7 satellites,
more than 500 channels, advanced technology, retransmission
of local TV stations in markets representing more than 75%
of all U.S. television households, low consumer entry cost
and superior customer service.
Regional Sat Broadcasting Network
DBS Asia, the satellite TV broadcast subsidiary of Asia
Broadcasting and Communications Network Ltd., (ABCN), has
awarded a management contract to Favorlangh Communication
Corporation (FCC) to establish and to manage its operational
centre in Taiwan, to be known as DBS Asia :Taiwan. ABCN is
an affiliate of Thailand's The M Group.
Favorlangh's management contract is for an exclusive,
multi-year agreement to establish DBS Asia's operational
base in Taipei, including the recruitment and training of
personnel, marketing and distribution, acquisition of local
programming and driving sales efforts.
Attending the launch ceremony in Taipei were
representatives of the strategic partners in the ABCN
venture, including International Engineering Company (IEC)
and other Thai shareholders in the venture, Itochu
Corporation of Japan and Echostar Communications of the US.
ABCN announced its plans to establish a satellite based
multi-media information superhighway in the sky over Asia
Pacific in March 1996. The satellite program will provide
digital broadcast and telecommunications services to this
rapidly developing region. DBS Asia will use about 75% of
the capacity of the first L-Star satellite, planned for
launch in December 1997.
The first satellite in the L-STAR Program will be L-
STAR 1, a super-high-powered satellite to be launched into
geostationary orbit at 116 E in a slot granted to the Lao
People's Democratic Republic (Lao P.D.R.). When it enters
commercial service, L-STAR 1 will be able to broadcast 100
channels to Taiwanese viewers with a clear signal to 45 cm
The L-STAR 1 footprint will reach over 16 countries and will
be divided into three beams : the central (Lao P.D.R,
Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and
Vietnam); the west (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and
Sri Lanka); and the east (Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and
General Instrument $13.7 Million Contract
Magnitude compression Systems, Inc. (MCS) a subsidiary
of General Instrument Corporation has signed a $13.7 million
contract with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd (MEI)
to supply Magnitude MPEG-2/DVB Encoding Systems, comprised
of 160 channels, to DIRECTV JAPAN, Inc. (DTVJ).
The systems are currently being shipped to DTVJ, which
is scheduled to launch its direct-to-home (DTH) service in
the third quarter of 1997. DTVJ will be one of the largest
DTH satellite systems in the Asia Pacific region.
The Magnitude Encoding System is currently the only
MPEG system used for the successful DTH services such as
DIRECTV, inc. and USSB in the United States and Galaxy Latin
America, the company delivering the DIRECTV service in Latin
The Magnitude system is compliant with both the Moving
Pictures Experts Group (MPEG-2) standards, which govern the
digital processing and transmission of audio and video
information, and the Digital Video Broadcast (DVB)
standards, which define the broadcasting of digital video
and audio signals. The DTVJ system will be supplied with
the MCS StatMux feature and the MovieMaster advanced
detelecine process. StatMux is a statistical multiplexing
process which allows multiple digital video channels to
dynamically share the entire bandwidth of a satellite
transponder according to the instantaneous demand for
bandwidth from each channel. This process allows the
programmer to hold picture quality constant regardless of
the degree of difficulty of the material being encoded.
The MovieMasrer advanced detelecine process automatically
detects the redundant fields present in all original film-
based material and deletes them for more efficient
EBU launches aid
Public service broadcasting in Bosnia-Herzegovina must
be supported and protected, according to a decision by the
Directors General of the EBU member broadcasting
organisations, who have launched an extensive assistance
plan for their fellow-broadcaster RTVBiH.
Apart from wiping out RTVBiH's debts towards the EBU,
the other members of the Union are to provide it with free
programming for a year and are to look into the possibility
of setting up joint productions.
The EBU has appointed two special representatives: Richard
Dill (former Head of International Relations in the German
broadcasting organisation ARD) and Sven Olof Ekholm (former
Director of Engineering at the Swedish SVT). Their job will
be to seek out sponsors among film distributors, to have
them grant broadcasting licences to RTVBiH for a limited
period, and among manufacturers, to help with re-equipping
the studios. The EBU itself will ensure that RTVBiH remains
linked to its international satellite programme distribution
network (Eurovision) and continues to receive all the
assistance necessary to promote its technological
development, such as training seminars.
Pearson Television to sell stake in TVB
Pearson Television, part of Pearson plc has agreed to
sell its entire 10% interest in Television Broadcasts
Limited ("TVB"), Hong Kong's leading television broadcaster,
for œ111.1 m.
The purchasers of the shares are Shaw Brothers (Hong
Kong) Limited and an associated party. Pearson acquired the
stake in TVB in February 1995 for œ106.2m (HK$31 per share),
and received dividends during the period of œ3.5m. The
final sale price was HK$33.25 per share.
FCC Chairman Wants an Auction
Federal Communications Commission Chairman (FCC) Reed
Hundt said he wants to hold an open auction of the two
available licenses to provide a nation-wide radio service
beamed via satellite.
Digital Audio Radio Services (DARS) promises nation-
wide radio broadcasts that are transmitted via satellite.
The FCC must determine how to allocate the two available
licenses that offer transmission throughout the country.
Hundt said the license holders should have broad
flexibility to use the permits in the manner they best deem
fit, and that any broadcaster should be able to participate
in the auction by either bidding individually or through a
GE Americom Invests In Nahuelsat
GE Americom has increased its equity investment in
Nahuelsat S.A., the Argentine regional communication
satellite system for the Americas, to 28.75 percent of the
company's $100-million from 17.25 percent, acquired in
Nahuelsat S.A. was founded in 1993 with an initial
capital of $20 million by the three European aerospace
companies Daimler-Benz Aerospace (Germany), Aerospatiale
(France) and Alenia Spazio (Italy). Since then the equity
has grown to $100 million through the integration of
strategic partners such as IFC (World Bank Group), the local
partners Telecom Argentina and Antel (Uruguay) as well as
major Argentinian banks and investment funds: the Banco de
la Provincia de Buenos Aires and BISA (Bemberg Group).
Nahuelsat, holder of a long-term operating license from
the Argentine government, will shortly provide multipurpose
satellite telecommunication services through its NAHUEL-1 Ku-
band satellite specifically designed for Latin America,
following the successful launch of the satellite on January
30, 1997. Three beams will cover Argentina, Chile, Uruguay
and Paraguay (Region 1), Brazil (Region 2) and all Spanish-
speaking countries of South and Central America from Tierra
del Fuego to Mexico and the Southern U.S. (Region 3).
NSAB Signs Deal With GE For Service On Sirius 2
Nordiska Satellitaktiebolaget (NSAB) of Sweden has
signed an agreement with GE Americom, for transmission
service on the Sirius 2 European satellite. GE will offer
pan-European satellite communications services via 16
transponders on the Aerospatiale-built spacecraft, which is
currently scheduled for launch in July 1997. NSAB will use
this capacity to complement services provided via 16 other
NSAB-owned transponders on the satellite.
Samsung DSR 2000
Samsung Electro-Mechanics announced the first
delivery of its Samsung-brand DSR 2000 satellite receiver.
Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co. Ltd. of Suwon, Korea, is
a licensee of Tee-Comm Electronics' DTH satellite television
technology. The Samsung brand name will be prominently
displayed on every unit.
The Samsung DSR 2000 utilises MPEG-2, DVB-compliant
engineering and technology and has been tested on the
First New Titan IVB Rocket Launched
The first upgraded Titan IVB space launch vehicle
thundered into the Florida skies this week carrying a
Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite that will provide
early warning of missile launches throughout the world.
Transfer of the satellite to its final orbit was
accomplished by the inertial upper stage (IUS). The launch
was from complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla.
The Titan IVB is an upgraded configuration of the Titan
IVA. It is the nation's largest, most powerful expendable
launch vehicle and is built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics
near Denver, Colo. The Titan IVB is capable of boosting up
to 47,800 pounds into low-Earth orbit or more than 12,700
pounds into geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles above Earth --
25 percent larger than payloads carried by the standard
Titan IVA. This new configuration features upgraded solid
rocket motors; a more accurate guidance system based on ring
laser gyros; a new, more efficient programmable aerospace
ground equipment (PAGE) system used to checkout the vehicle
on the ground and standardised mechanical and electrical
interfaces to the payload.
This was the first of four Titan IV launches scheduled
this year. It was the 20th Titan IV launched, the
thirteenth from Cape Canaveral. Seven Titan IVs have been
launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Lockheed Martin Astronautics is under contract to the
U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Centre to build and
launch 41 Titan IV expendable launch vehicles, of which 19
will be the new Titan IVB configuration. As prime
contractor and systems integrator, the company provides
overall program management, builds the first and second
stages and the Centaur upper stage and provides launch
services. Titan IV is the nation's primary heavy-lift
expendable space launch vehicle, providing the principal
access to space for critical national security payloads
launched from both coasts. The next Titan IVB will launch
the Cassini spacecraft on its mission to Saturn for the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration in October.
Discovery Communications, Inc.
Discovery Communications, Inc. (DCI), the privately
held, Bethesda, Maryland-based parent company of cable
television's popular Discovery Channel and The Learning
Channel, announced unaudited, consolidated 1996 calendar
year revenues of $661.8 million, with an operating cash flow
(earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and
amortisation, but including program content amortisation) of
DCI's developing assets, for which specific revenue
figures were not released, include the company's new cable
networks in the U.S._Animal Planet, Discovery Science
Network, Discovery Civilisation Network, Discovery Travel &
Living Network and Discovery Kids; its developing cable
networks in Latin America, Asia, India and Africa; its part-
ownership of networks in Germany, Japan and Canada; its 50%
share of a time-shifting television service in the U.S.,
Your Choice TV; its brand-extension businesses in online,
multimedia and home video; its unit for production and
distribution of theatrical and large-format motion pictures;
its programming library; and its nascent "Discovery On
Demand" service, yet another DCI business readying itself
for the emerging digital platform.
Financial Performance Summary
1. Discovery Channel: U.S.
2. The Learning Channel: U.S.
3. Discovery Channel: Europe
4. Discovery Retail & Theme (The Nature Company)
1996 Developed Assets, Total Revenue: $603.3 M
1996 Developed Assets, Operating Cash Flow: $203.8 M
Current Snapshot (Feb. '97) of Distribution
Animal Planet 15 million
Discovery Science TCI Digital Auto-
Discovery Civilisation "
Discovery Travel & Living "
Discovery Kids "
Discovery Latin America 6.6 million
Discovery Asia (includes India) 13.9 million
Discovery Kids -- Latin America Recent Launch
Discovery Germany Recent Launch
Discovery Italy/Africa Recent Launch
Discovery Canada 4.2 million
Next Atlas Launch
" Tempo 2 --March 5th , 1997 1.02 - 2.01 am ET Video:
Galaxy 7 Transponder 8
Next Ariane Launch
" Ariane 4/Thaicom --Apr 4, 1997
Malaysia decided that its first micro-satellite will
be launched by a Russian company at the end of the year. The
decision was made by the Cabinet which also agreed to award
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. of Britain the contract to
jointly design and build the micro-satellite with
Myanmar's Myawaddy TV will lease a transponder from the
Asia Satellite Telecommunication Co Ltd of Hong Kong to
extend its regular services. Myawaddy TV will use the
transponder of Asiasat Satellite-2 in its morning and
evening services. The Myawaddy TV started its regular
morning telecast in March of 1995 via Asiasat Satellite-1.
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