Sat-ND, 8.7.96

RupertWatch -- July 8, 1996
(c)  Copyright 1996 by Dr. Sarmaz

Welcome to yet another edition of RupertWatch, the newsletter solely
dedicated to the activities of the Australian-born media magnate Rupert
Murdoch (not to be confused with Roderick Mercer, "the world's greatest
publisher of the world's sleaziest newspapers."*)
Watch Mr Murdoch adding country by country to his almost global television
empire on his thrilling journey around the world!
*) Douglas Adams, "The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul", p. 182

You can call me Leo
The major players today have staked their claims in Germany by announcing
deals that is likely to reshape Europe's television landscape. Rupert
Murdoch is out of the Bertelsmann-CLT alliance, instead he will take over
a 49 percent stake in Leo Kirch's digital package DF1.
When German media group Bertelsmann AG and Luxembourg's group Audiofina SA
signed a pact on merging their television units Ufa and CLT last weekend,
it soon became clear that neither Mr Murdoch nor French pay-TV company
would be involved. Canal Plus still is invited to join the so-called
"digital alliance," while Murdoch announced a separate deal with Kirch a
few hours later,

Bertelsmann joins CLT
"The alliance is necessary to keep other international media groups from
gaining dominant positions, notably in the German market," a joint
statement of Bertelsmann and Audiofina today said. Both will hold equal
interests in 98 percent of the new company CLT-UFA.
Luxembourg's CLT owns 14 television channels and 18 radio stations in nine
countries, many of which carry "RTL" in their name. Media giant
Bertelsmann of Gütersloh, through their subsidiary Ufa, was CLT's
long-time partner in setting up various RTL channels in Germany, such as
RTL Television, RTL 2, and Super RTL. There had always been a certain
friction between both companies in the past. Recently, both were trying to
gain predominance at RTL Television - a battle that ended up in court but
was settled as soon as the merger plans materialised.
Bertelsmann and CLT had met in court before. A few years ago, CLT sued
Bertelsmann for taking a stake in Vox. Ironically, it was Murdoch who
saved the ailing channel by taking a stake of 49 percent. But even more
ironically, it was Murdoch who finally brought CLT and Bertelsmann
Originally, he was negotiating with CLT to join their efforts in setting
up a digital TV package for Germany. Later, he turned his attention to
Bertelsmann and its strategic partner Canal Plus. CLT, lacking any
partners, finally had to follow him.
It soon became clear that this alliance was just too big to work. Canal
Plus was supposed to co-operate with CLT in Germany when at the same time
both companies were heavily competing in France on the digital market. The
French strategy was aimed at keeping Bertelsmann and CLT apart while
keeping Murdoch in the alliance.
It didn't work. "The news is not a shock," a Canal Plus spokeswoman said
today, adding that "our position remains unchanged." The problem is that
nobody knows the company's position. Canal Plus didn't make much effort to
clarify the situation, either: "At the moment we are still talking to
Bertelsmann about digital satellite TV in Germany, but we could eventually
do a deal with Kirch,"
Observers don't think this is a real option. Kirch in Germany uses a
different decoder than Canal Plus in France - not a real problem on
separate markets, though. Much depends on French state owned media company
Havas that holds minority stakes in CLT as well as Canal Plus.

Murdoch joins Kirch
British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (BSkyB/London) will become a 49 percent
shareholder of Germany's first digital TV package DF1, slated to launch at
the end of this month by Leo Kirch. According to a KirchGruppe spokesman,
the deal gives DF1 an additional impact to take up with "competing
European media companies."
Sports channel DSF has a key role within the DF1 package. While DSF itself
is freely available, it will contribute three pay channels to DF1. And
besides, Leo Kirch recently acquired the broadcasting rights for the
football (soccer) world cup in 2002 and 2006. As we know now, this is
very, very likely to have happened with a little help from his new friend
Rupert Murdoch.
Kirch will support BSkyB in acquiring a controlling stake in DSF, so far
owned by Silvio Berlusconi (33.5 percent,) publishing house Axel Springer
Verlag (24.9 percent,) Kirch's Taurus Vermögensverwaltung (24.5 percent,)
and Swiss publishing house Ringier AG (17.1 percent.) Ringier had tried to
sell its stake to Johann Rupert (Richemont, NetHold, FilmNet), a close
Kirch ally, in August 1995. Mr Rupert, who wanted to acquire a stake of
26.5 percent, pulled back citing complicated regulatory issues in Germany
as reason for his withdrawal.
Observers said that Kirch might now in return join BSkyB as a new
shareholder. This will nevertheless not mean that the German audience is
provided with BSkyB programming automatically.
Kirch's son Thomas had set up a joint venture with Murdoch more than two
years ago in order to offer some channels of BSkyB's multichannels package
in Germany. So far, the company named Selco does nothing more but to
provide subscriber services to the digital radio package DMX. Some thirty
basic channels of DMX will also be a part of the DF1 package. 

Visit Leo and Rupert on the WWW
And, of course, DF1 will have a Web Site. There's nothing to be seen yet,
as Torsten Tuschick reports - you still need a password to access the
site. This will very likely change during the next few weeks. 

Sat-ND 96-07-08 - Satellite and Media News

This service is provided free of charge for personal use. It may be
reproduced for non-commercial reasons only, provided the following notice
is included:
"(c) Copyright 1996 by Sat-ND, http://www.sat-net.com/pck/"
Please send any contributions and comments regarding Sat-ND to
Peter C. Klanowski, Fax +49-451-5820055, pck@LyNet.De

This issue is sponsored by TELE-satellite, Europe's Satellite Magazine 
Have a look at their homepage! >> http://www.TELE-satellit.com/ <<

MTV back to the roots
MTV is creating just another channel targeted at an older audience - and I
always thought, VH-1 was such a channel. But no, M2 - as the new MTV
spin-off is named - will be launched on August 1 in the USA. The channel
will try to sell its services to cable networks, although there is not
much space on the analogue cable systems. However, parent company Viacom
may impress cable operators with package deals involving their other
channels MTV, VH-1, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, TV Land, and Showtime
M2 will offer more music than the US version of MTV, which according to
critics now airs too many game shows, news programmes, and documentaries.
M2's logo consists of a mirrored MTV logo with the number 2 in it. Watch
out for it, even if you're living in Europe. So far, most of the Viacom
channels have made their way to Europe. Many of them will be carried in
the DF1 package described above by my dear friend and colleague, Dr
Oh, I almost forgot that one. Interactivity! Yes, watch out for that! M2
will be the first cable channel to provide a 24-hour "Intercast" service,
whatever that means (apart from buying expensive special circuitry for
your PC.)

TCI, Sumitomo launch Japanese entertainment channel
US cable monolith TCI has embarked on a deal with Japanese trading company
Sumitomo Corp to to provide satellite broadcasts of Japanese television
shows in the Asia-Pacific region, a Sumitomo spokesman said today: "We
will offer a 24-hour channel providing entertainment programs
simultaneously broadcast in four languages: Japanese, English, Chinese and
Thai." The channel is to be transmitted to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore,
Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, part of China, Australia
and New Zealand via PAS-2 (169E.) The service, designed to be picked up
mostly by local cable-television stations and hotel operators, is
scheduled to begin January 1, 1997.
A new company called Japan Entertainment Television Inc., capitalised at
$15 million, will be set up in Singapore to provide programming. Five
Japanese television broadcasters are expected to provide 30 percent of the
company's funding, while Sumitomo will supply the rest. Sumitomo hopes to
acquire an initial subscription base of five million households, later
adding TCI's 13 million cable subscribers in the USA.

Discovery in Asia
Discovery Channel will use MPEG 2 technology supplied by PowerVu(tm) to
expand in the in the Asia Pacific region. The new system, to be installed
in Singapore, will provide Discovery Channel with extensive opportunities
to localise both programming and advertising. Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia,
Singapore, the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia
will receive broadcasts from the Asia Broadcast Centre in Singapore where
Scientific-Atlanta was a key supplier of 9-meter antennas and electronic
The new PowerVu system supports PAL and NTSC video formats and will be
used on the PAS-2 satellite, the company said in a press release. "Our
commitment to MPEG 2 and DVB in our PowerVu system and the versatility of
the PowerVu Command Centre are making our digital video compression
systems a popular solution for customers," said Dwight Duke, president of
the satellite television networks division at Scientific-Atlanta. "By
working with industry leaders like Discovery Channel, we continue to build
upon our successful installation of more than 80 digital compression
networks over the last four years that carry in excess of 275 channels of
video around the world."

Columbia: More than just coffee
The Colombian government authorised domestically and foreign-owned private
companies to offer satellite-based communication services, an adviser to
the Communications Ministry said. Until now, only two providers were
authorised, namely PanAmSat and Intelsat. The measure will allow other
companies to expand telecommunications and value-added services on any
legally authorised satellite.
The decree will open the market for any company with the equipment and
legal status to offer services that were previously the monopoly of the
state-owned Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones. 
The government presently plans to partially privatise and syndicate the
company, whose 10,000 employees have said they will protest the transfer.

Guangdong on ASIASAT 2
China's boom province Guangdong today started transmitting TV and radio
programs via satellite, reported Chinese news agency Xinhua. Locally
produced programs will be beamed to 53 countries around the globe via
ASIASAT 2 (100.6E). Programming will be in both Chinese and English. The
number of potential listeners and viewers is estimated at some two
The new ground station at Panyu City, Guangdong Province, was taken into
service today, Xinhua said.

Thanks to our contributors -
Dr. Sarmaz <TAbajo@aol.com>
Torsten Tuschick <Torsten.Tuschick@RZ.TU-Ilmenau.DE>

Copyright 1996 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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