Sat-Na March 10, 1997
TEMPO Satellite Launched
TCI Satellite Entertainment reported that its high
powered TEMPO satellite was successfully launched in orbit.
The launch of TSAT's high powered satellite is the
first step in the Company's introduction of its cable
combo/cable plus model. The "cable plus" model provides a
valuable combination of the programming strengths of Direct
Broadcast Satellite (DBS) with the advantages of wireline
cable to local customers. The 13.8" dish that the TEMP0
satellite allows will deliver an incremental package of DBS
services to each home, combined with an analogue cable feed
from local cable operators. The combination will be
delivered through one set top box, with one remote control.
The service will be seamless to the customer, while
providing a competitive offering of DBS services (movies,
sports and Pay-Per-View) and local cable services (local
broadcast signals, whole-house service) that customers
TEMPO will occupy the 118.8 West orbital location, able
to provide direct-to-home television service throughout the
continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
The TEMPO satellite was built by Space Systems/Loral
(SS/L), and launched aboard a Lockheed Martin AtlasIIA
rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Station. TEMPO is one of two
direct broadcast satellites designed and built by SS/L for
TEMPO Satellite, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of TSAT.
TEMPO will have an expected life of over 12 years, carrying
32 high-powered Ku-band transponders at 115 watts each,
which in combined mode provide 16 transponders at 230 watts
each. TEMPO is the first commercial satellite to have power
capacity in excess of 10 kilowatts.
After a period of in-orbit testing, the satellite will be
available to TSAT for signal delivery and will be controlled
by GE American Communications for long-term operation.
TSAT's "cable plus" service is initially expected to be
available in the fall of 1997.
First Intelsat 8 satellite launched
During the night of February 28 - March 01 1997,
Arianespace successfully launched Intelsat 801, the first in
the new generation of satellites operated by the
International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation,
Flight 94 was carried out by an Ariane 44P, the version
of the European launcher with four solid-propellant strap-on
boosters. Lift-off from the European Space Port in Kourou,
French Guiana, took place on Friday, February 28, 1997 at
10:07min 42sec p.m. local time in Kourou (08:07mn 42sec p.m.
in Washington, D.C.; and on March 01 at 01:07mn 42sec am
GMT; and 02:07min 42sec am in Paris).
Provisional parameters at third stage injection into
geostationary transfer orbit were :
Perigee: 199.1 km for 199.8 km intended,
Apogee: 35,941 km for 35,957 km intended,
Inclination: 6.98 deg for 6.99 deg intended.
The Intelsat 801 satellite is based on the first in a
new series of platforms designed to provide more powerful
and higher capacity C-band communications services. Built by
Lockheed Martin Telecommunications in East Windsor, New
Jersey, it offers a number of technical innovations,
including two steerable C-band spotbeams, interconnection
between the C and Ku bands, satellite newsgathering (SNG)
service, and compatibility with series VII and VIIA
satellites. Intelsat 801 weighed 3,420 kg (7, 524 lb.) at
lift-off. It provides a capacity of 3 TV channels, 22,500
telephone circuits, and up to 112,500 digital telephone
The next launch, Flight 95, is scheduled for April 11.
An Ariane 44LP launch vehicle will be used to place into
orbit two satellites: the Thaicom 3 telecommunications
satellite for Thailand, and the BSAT-1a direct broadcast
satellite for Japan.
Star Choice and HomeStar to merge
Shaw Communications DTH satellite service just got a
lot better for Canadian viewers as two major players joined
forces to offer a significantly enhanced DTH service.
Star Choice Communications Inc. and SHAW
Communications Inc. announced a merger between their DTH
satellite television operations through the merger of Star
Choice Television Network and HomeStar.
The combined operations of Star Choice and HomeStar
have an approximate value of $110 million. HomeStar will
contribute up to $55 million in cash, satellite space and
uplink facilities to Star Choice so that upon completion of
the transaction, SHAW will own approximately 50 percent of
the common shares of Star Choice Communications on a fully
THE STAR CHOICE/HOMESTAR AGREEMENT
" Star Choice Communications Inc. and SHAW
Communications Inc. have agreed to merge their direct-to-
home (DTH) satellite operations, Star Choice Television
Network and HomeStar.
" At closing, the assets of HomeStar will consist of its
satellite uplink business composed of three uplink
facilities valued at approximately $30 million, together
with cash of at least $23.4 million, for a total value of at
least $53.4 million. In addition, upon the exercise of the
warrants described below, Star Choice Communications will
receive up to $1.6 million in proceeds from SHAW.
" Star Choice Communications will issue 12,711,344 common
shares to SHAW having an agreed price of approximately $4.20
per share, together with warrants to purchase a further
370,000 common shares at an average price of approximately
$4.40 per share, expiring on dates on or before October 31,
" The merged operations will continue under the
leadership of Brian Neill as Chairman and C.E.O. of Star
Choice Communications. Star Choice and HomeStar will
combine personnel, operations, marketing and customer call
" As a result of this arrangement, Star Choice will have
access to 14 channels on Canada's Anik E-2 satellite,
enabling the company to offer a DTH satellite television
service with over 100 video and audio channels.
" Star Choice will adopt General Instrument's DigiCipher
II digital compression technology and will use single feed
technology, beaming its programming from the Anik E-2
satellite to subscribers' 24-inch satellite receiver dishes.
" Star Choice will retain its existing arrangements with
dealers and distributors and intends to maintain an
aggressive roll-out schedule providing DTH satellite
television service to consumers by April 30, 1997.
Norsat Announces Technology Breakthrough
Norsat announced a major technology breakthrough by
unveiling the world's first commercially viable Ka-band low
noise block downconverter (LNB) at Intercom 97, an
international telecommunications conference held last week
in Vancouver, B.C.
The Norsat Ka-band-LNB represents a significant
technology breakthrough in that it will be integral to
supporting the growth of a wide range of high-speed, two-way
digital communications services which are focused on
addressing commercial and consumer demand for speedier
access to the information superhighway_everything from
Internet access to distance learning, multimedia broadcasts,
and voice and video conferencing. Several companies,
including Hughes (Galaxy/Spaceway), Teledesic, AT&T
(VoiceSpan) and GE Americom (Star System) are planning
satellite-based communications services operating within the
Ka-band broadcast spectrum from 17 to 30
Norsat plans to build up to 1,000 Ka-band LNB field
trial units in its Surrey manufacturing facility for
delivery in early 1998.
DIRECTV Adds 14 New Channels
Beginning April 10, DIRECTV will add TV Food Network,
Superstation WGN, Animal Planet, Trinity Broadcasting
Network, Romance Classics, Channel Earth, two additional
STARZ! premium movie channels, an additional Encore movie
channel, Fox Sports Midwest, Sports Channel Florida and Fox
Sports Arizona. Also, QVC, the leading electronic retailer,
and Fox Sports West 2 will be added to the DIRECTV line-up
on March 10 and March 28 respectively.
The most extensive enhancements apply to the DIRECTV
Total Choice programming packages.
Total Choice will receive six new channels: TV Food
Network, WGN, Animal Planet, QVC, Trinity Broadcasting
Network and Channel Earth. Encore's thematic multiplex
service will now be available in a new package, Total Choice
Plus Encore, as well as Total Choice Silver and Total Choice
Platinum. The new Total Choice, which also includes 31
commercial-free Music Choice channels, will be available for
$29.99 per month. All DIRECTV customers will receive a free
preview of the new Total Choice programming services from
March 28 through April 9.
Total Choice Plus Encore will provide DIRECTV Total
Choice customers with the option to subscribe to all of the
programming in the new Total Choice and receive the Encore
thematic multiplex service, which has been, expanded to
eight channels. Total Choice Plus Encore subscribers will
continue to receive the Encore channel and the Westerns,
Mystery, Action, and True Stories channels. Subscribers
will also receive an additional Encore channel, and the WAM!
and Love Stories channels will become available 24 hours a
day. Total Choice Plus Encore will be available for $33.99
Designed for movie lovers, Total Choice Silver_which
currently features two channels of the STARZ! first-run
premium movie service, the Independent Film Channel and all
of the programming found in Total Choice_will expand its
line-up to feature more movie channels. In addition to the
existing movie services, subscribers to the new Total Choice
Silver package will receive two additional STARZ! channels,
the eight Encore services and Romance Classics, the new
network that features classic and contemporary romance
programming and films. Also, the Independent Film Channel
will become available 24 hours a day beginning March 22.
Total Choice Silver will feature these 14 premium movie
channels and all of the services in the new Total Choice
package for $39.99 per month.
Total Choice Gold_targeted to sports enthusiasts_will
receive four new regional sports networks: Fox Sports
Midwest, Sports Channel Florida, Fox Sports West 2 and Fox
Sports Arizona. Sports Choice, which features out-of-market
regional sports networks and niche sports channels, will be
integrated into Total Choice Gold and no longer sold as a
separate package. The Encore thematic multiplex service
will be removed from Total Choice Gold. Total Choice Gold,
which will include all of the services in the new Total
Choice, will be available for $39.99 per month.
Total Choice Platinum is designed to appeal to both
sports and movie lovers. Total Choice Platinum, which
combines the new Total Choice Silver and Total Choice Gold
packages, will be available for $47.99 per month.
In addition to changes to its Total Choice packages,
DIRECTV has also modified its three entry-level programming
packages. Plus DIRECTV will add Animal Planet, TV Food
Network and Channel Earth to its line-up and cost $14.99 per
month; these services will replace The Learning Channel, E!
and the Encore Hit Movies channel. QVC will be added to
both DIRECTV Limited, which will sell for $5.99 a month, and
Select Choice, which will sell for $19.99 per month.
Additional changes to DIRECTV services include: the
monthly subscription price for Playboy TV, increasing to
$12.99 from $9.95; the subscription price for subscribers
who qualify for PrimeTime 24, increasing to $4.99 per month
from $4.95; and the service fee for each additional DSS
receiver connected to different television sets in
subscribers' homes, increasing to $4.99 per month from
EUROPEAN COMMISSION NEWS
A plan to boost Europe's role in the provision of
global satellite communications services and applications
was put forward by the Commission. It aims to focus European
industrial potential on the new generation of satellite
systems, advanced services and innovative applications such
as personal mobility, short response times, global
connectivity, and access to the broadband evolution of the
Internet. Drawn up following a meeting of national industry,
space and telecommunications ministers with Commissioners
Martin Bangemann and Edith Cresson, the strategy envisages a
close public-private partnership effort between Member
Sates, the Commission and the relevant industry sectors and
service providers. Despite tremendous efforts over the last
30 years, the European satellite equipment and services
industry is not currently well placed to remain a major
player in this sector, in which revenues are expected to
reach $400bn over the next ten years. The action plan
suggests the urgent implementation of existing regulatory
measures to ensure the proper functioning of the internal
market, a stronger European position internationally, and
greater co-ordination in research and development.
The Commission also has agreed to clear the acquisition
of the joint control of the BBC's home service transmission
business by an international consortium. Joint control of
the UK company HSCo will be exercised by Castle Tower
Communications and Berkshire Fund IV LP of the USA,
TeleDiffusion de France International SA, and Candover plc
of the UK.
CanWest Global Awarded Licence in Quebec
The CRTC has approved the application filed by TVA
CanWest, a partnership between CanWest Global and Tele-
Metropole to revitalise CKMI in Quebec City. CKMI, to be re-
named Global Television Network (Quebec), will become a
regional English-language broadcaster serving Quebec City,
Montreal and Sherbrooke effective September 1, 1997.
CKMI will disaffiliate from the CBC and be renamed
Global Television Network (Quebec). Its plan of operation
calls for the extension of its broadcast signal, currently
received only in Quebec City, to Montreal and Sherbrooke,
Disaffiliation from CBC will allow CanWest Global to
program Global (Quebec) with its full schedule of popular
Canadian and U.S. programs. The extension of its signal to
Montreal and Quebec will give the new service access to one
million English-speaking Quebecers, as well as to a
significant portion of the province's bilingual francophone
population, which is increasingly being drawn to English
The capital cost of the operation, including
anticipated expenses to be incurred between now and the
September 1, 1997 start-up date of the new service, are
anticipated to be approximately $25 million.
Sony Awarded Multi-Million-Dollar Contract
Sony Electronics' digital technologies will converge in
Ibaragi, Japan, to build an approximately 100-channel direct
broadcast satellite facility for DIRECTV JAPAN, Inc. (DTVJ).
DTVJ is a new company formed by Hughes Electronics
Corporation and six Japanese firms. The new multichannel
broadcast centre is among the largest ever built in Japan,
and will be the country's leading provider of subscription
movies, movies-on-demand, live events and local channel
The facility will feature Sony's broad range of
advanced digital video and audio products, linked by Sony's
high-speed Serial Digital Data Interface (SDDI) network.
DTVJ will implement Sony's scalable multichannel video file
server and automation system, which is designed to simplify
the complexities of multichannel operation, and allow users
to easily add channels and functions.
The site will feature traffic and control system
scheduling, control and resource management software from
SunUp Design Systems, Inc. Operators can enter program
schedules for each channel, specify material to be stored on
multiple server locations, insert spots and reallocate
resources to accommodate last-minute changes.
The DTVJ complex will be equipped with Sony's new
Betacam SX digital recording, editing and storage systems
based on Sony's implementation of MPEG-2 4:2:2 Profile@ Main
Level digital television compression technology.
By using a consistent 4:2:2 Profile @ Main Level
compression scheme, DTVJ can avoid the significant loss of
quality that can come from repeated
compression/decompression or shifting between compression
schemes as signals move through the plant. Moreover, as a
true digital component signal, it holds up extremely well in
The DTVJ facility will be designed by Sony in San Jose
and implemented by the company in Atsugi, Japan. The
multichannel facility is slated to begin broadcasting in
Fall of 1997.
DIRECTV INC: Two satellite dealerships searched
DIRECTV, Inc. confirmed that the U.S. Secret Service
searched two satellite dealerships in the Miami, Fla., area
on Thursday, Feb. 13, 1997, resulting in the arrest of two
men. The action is the third initiative by the Secret
Service in south Florida in recent months to clamp down on
the fraudulent production and distribution of DSS "smart
cards," which are used by DIRECTV subscribers to receive
entertainment television programming in their homes.
The business locations searched last week were Southern
Technologies Amateur Radio, owned by Robert Allan Forman,
and Sheikh Enterprises, owned by Mohammed Sheik. Sheik's
residence was also searched. Both Forman and Sheikh were
taken into custody by the Secret Service. Sheikh Enterprises
was an authorised DIRECTV dealership, and DIRECTV
immediately terminated that authority.
AlphaStar to Carry the RE/MAX Satellite Network
The RE/MAX Satellite Network, a proprietary television
broadcast channel developed by RE/MAX International Inc.
for its international network of more than 2,800 real estate
offices, will join the roster of business-to-business
networks available on AlphaStar. The pact was orchestrated
by Broadcast International, which has provided service and
support to RSN's subscribers since the channel began
broadcasting over two years ago. RSN had been using the
Telstar 401 satellite until it went dark in mid-January.
RSN provides a daily menu of educational programming,
panel discussions, talk shows with live call-ins, special
events, corporate news and "meetings with the chairman." In
addition to the programming produced internally, NBC Desktop
Video provides RSN with a customised business news show
called "Real Estate Weekly". The program covers real estate
market trends, mortgage rate information, housing starts,
regional market conditions and breaking news related to the
industry. RSN also provides an advertising vehicle to
companies offering products and services to the real estate
Digital Satellite Broadcasting Corp
Digital Satellite Broadcasting Corporation (DSBC)
announced its intention to bid in upcoming auctions for
Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (S-DARS) licenses,
scheduled for April 1, 1997. DSBC is one of four companies
competing for two licenses. This decision follows the FCC
release of licensing, service and technical rules governing
the auction process and development of S-DARS, a nation-wide
satellite-delivered radio service for homes and cars. S-
DARS technology sends multiple channels of programming
through a single digital signal that covers the entire
United States. Consumers will receive the programming on
new radio receivers with credit-card sized satellite
antennas that can be installed in cars, trucks and homes.
DSBC's service will use small spot beams (24 of them,
each at least 250 miles in diameter) which will deliver
regional programming throughout the U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and
Puerto Rico. By combining DSBC's national distribution
system with the spot beam approach, DSBC will offer a wide
array of targeted programming, such as children's
programming, foreign-language, classical music, opera, all-
news, all-sports, educational and public affairs programs,
aimed at highly-targeted demographic groups. The
programming will be offered as an advertising-supported
service and as a commercial-free subscription service.
Hughes Olivetti Telecom Ltd
Satellite communications company Hughes Olivetti
Telecom (HOT) announced that its business more than doubled
in volume in 1996, enabling the company to break even in
only its second year of operation. HOT is now the largest
player in the interactive VSAT market in Europe.
The company is predicting further rapid growth, and
expects to double in size in 1997. The European VSAT market
is predicted to continue to grow consistently at around 30%
per year, emphasising the extent of the opportunities
available to HOT.
HOT's turnover in 1996 was over $24 million, and the
company has also seen a further increase in its orders in
hand, with a range of contracts from the automotive and
Key to HOT's success are its contracts with Volkswagen
(VW) and General Motors. The VW contract combines a HOTStar
two-way VSAT network with DirecPC for applications from
package delivery to multimedia broadcast.
Installation began in July 1996 and by year end nearly
500 sites were installed, HOT's expansion of the General
Motors system has made this the largest LAN satellite
network in the world. Installations are still in progress
and the number of sites is expected to increase from the
present total of 2,000 to 3,500 by the end of 1998.
EUTELSAT at Cable & Satellite 97
EUTELSAT will be demonstrating at this year's Cable &
Satellite the key role that its satellites can and already
are playing in the multimedia environment.
A number of one-way and two-way multimedia services are
already commercially operational via EUTELSAT, such as
DirecPC and Net On Air.
DVB Internet via EUTELSAT is a new digital platform
based on MPEG-2 technology and a specific DVB standard for
Internet and data broadcasting. It will offer end users (up
to 2 Mbit/sec per session on an Internet connection) and
will enable downloading of large files at fast speeds (up to
40 Mbit/sec per transponder).
Also on exhibit will be Net On Air an Internet
broadcasting service to domestic PCs via the Deutsche Welle
television signal on EUTELSAT Hot Bird capacity at 13
degrees East. With this system selective pages on the
Internet are bundled in the form of data packages and
transmitted at certain times to a decoder that filters out
data from the television signal and passes it at high speed
to the PC for further processing.
On the digital television front EUTELSAT will be
demonstrating its success in particular in the digital
television markets in France with the TPS package of
channels. and in Italy with Telepiu Satellite. A full
display of the strong analogue in-the-clear line-up will
also be on exhibit.
" Check our web site for current listings of 1997
launches. Click on "Launch Info".
Next Atlas Launch
" GOES-K --April 24 , 1997 1:56am - 3:19 am ET
Next Ariane Launch
" Thaicom --Apr. 11, 1997
" Superstation WGN will be added to the DIRECTV channel
line-up beginning April 10, 1997. WGN will be added to
DIRECTV's most widely distributed package, Total Choice as
well as Total Choice Silver, Gold and Platinum programming
packages. DIRECTV will air WGN on Channel 256.
" On March 15, NASA Television will begin broadcasting
via GE-2. NTV currently is transmitted on the Spacenet 2
satellite, which is nearing the end of its life cycle. The
GE-2 satellite, which was launched in January and is
operated by GE Americom, will provide NASA TV with a larger
footprint. Effective March 15, NTV will be available on GE-
2, Transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical
polarisation, with a frequency of 3880 Mhz, and audio of 6.8
" PRIMESTAR will add Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN)
to its PRIMEValue line-up as part of the planned launch of
its new service on April 20, 1997. In addition to adding 65
new channels, PRIMESTAR will introduce "Hyper-Surfing," a
faster, easier way for viewers to find their favourite
programming through a reorganised channel line-up of 10 easy-
to-find programming categories, such as Sports, Movies and
Family, where TBN will be found.
" McDonnell Douglas and Space Systems/Loral have entered
into an agreement for five Delta III launches between 1999
and 2001. Delta III backlog is now 18 launches through 2002.
The first Delta III launch is planned for 1998.
" AlphaStar Canada Inc. reported it already has orders
for over 10,000 digital direct-to-home satellite systems
from its national dealer network.
" BSkyB and Kirch Gruppe, the German media company, have
abandoned their plans to merge their operations in Germany.
(c) 1997 Sat-Na/SJI/DVBNI
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