Sat-ND, 31.7.96

Sat-ND 96-07-31 - Satellite and Media News

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Golden Words
"The German market is the best thing that's happened to the [Hollywood]
studios in a long time." 
Jessica Reif, analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co., commenting on the MCA deal
with Bertelsmann and Kirch (Sat-ND, 30.7.96) in The Wall Street Journal

Canal Plus separates from Bertelsmann
French Pay-TV company Canal Plus has officially terminated its "strategic
alliance" with German media company Bertelsmann. Marc-André Feffer, member
of the Canal Plus board, cited a lack of trust as the main reason for the
move. It became obvious yesterday when Canal Plus said it had "no further
plans to expand digital activities in Germany" (Sat-ND, 30.7.96.)
Speaking in an interview, Feffer admitted that Canal Plus was surprised by
Bertelsmann's announcement to develop a common decoder with the German
Kirch group. So far, Bertelsmann planned to use the Mediabox or Seca
(Société Européenne de Contrôle d'Accès) decoder commonly developed with
Canal Plus. 
At least in Germany, this decoder may not be used at all, which ironically
would also make any common decoder redundant. Actually, Bertelsmann's
digital package Club RTL will use Kirch's technical platform, in other
words: his d-box decoder. Smaller providers, especially German pubcasters
ARD and ZDF, will probably have no choice but to do the same. 

Tough regulations for TF1, M6
The favourite pastime of commercial TV executives in Germany is complaining
about license restrictions they don't comply with anyway. They might be in
for a heart attack when they have a look at the licenses that today were
re-issued for French commercial stations TF1 and M6.
Both will have to comply with certain journalistic standards that are part
of the licenses for the first time. For example, information and
entertainment may not be mingled. In news coverage, suspects have to be
regarded innocent until proven otherwise. Both stations will have to apply
a new rating system to programming with violent or sexually explicit
TF1 is committed to fill its yearly output with at least two thirds of
programming originating from France. 1,000 broadcast hours per year have to
consist of youth programming. M6 is obliged to carry 70 percent programming
from the European Union as well as 30 percent music, the majority of songs
being in the French language.
Both channels can be received in Europe unscrambled, but in SECAM, on

ESPN in Japan
US companies are continuing their efforts to get a hold of the Japanese TV
market. A Japanese sports channel that started out as "Japan Sports
Channel," later renamed Sports-i, now has become Sports-i ESPN. No further
details were available on the extent of US cable channels ESPN's
involvement. ESPN is a subsidiary of Disney/ABC. 
However, Sports-i ESPN will extend its daily programming to 20 hours a day
in October and 24 hours per day at the end of the year.

Crossing every ocean[?]*
"Locomotion" could be anything that moves, but actually it's a new cartoon
channel. The Hearst Corp. from the USA has teamed up with Venezuela's
Cisneros Group to launch the, hmm..., moving cartoon network in 23 Latin
American and Caribbean countries. It will be broadcast via satellite in
Spanish, Portuguese and English, initially available via the Latin American
DirecTV satellite-broadcast service. The channel will later also be
launched in the United States, competing with Ted Turner's Cartoon Network.
Hearst's television ventures include a 20 percent share of ESPN, a 50
percent share of Lifetime, and 37.5 percent of the A&E network and The
History Channel.
*...for the sake of locomotion. 
(From a song by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)

Cheap DBS equipment all over the US
EchoStar Communications Corporation announced today it will start offering
an 18-inch digital satellite system nationally for a retail price of US$199
-- but only when the customer purchases an annual programming package
(US$300) at the same time. This bundling strategy had already been used in
some test markets. 
"We test marketed our $199 promotion in areas that were strongly affected
by rising cable rates, " said Carl Vogel, president of EchoStar Satellite
Corporation. "The retailer and consumer response to this was so
overwhelming, we decided to offer the promotion nationally for the
remainder of 1996."
It will be interesting to see when this new strategy hits Europe, and when
viewers will get their reception equipment for free. In some European
countries, this has already happened with cellular phones.

By Dr Sarmaz (TAbajo@aol.com)

Rupert putts for Golf Channel
There were no major acquisitions by any of the companies controlled by
Rupert Murdoch recently, which made me personally think he was either ill
or on holiday. But no way, business goes on. In this case, an offspring of
Mr Murdoch's Fox Network is pretty active right now.
Fox Sports, already holding broadcasting rights for professional football
(football, not soccer!), baseball and hockey, is reported to be finalising
a deal to take over a 33 percent stake in cable TV's Golf Channel. The
financially troubled channel is reportedly looking for outside partners.
Launched back in 1995, the Golf Channel so far reaches approximately 3.5
US subscribers.

Re: Sat-ND, 28.7.96
"Transponder 45 on EUTELSAT II-F3 (16°E) is leased by the members of the
ENEX consortium (European News EXchange). It consists of SKY (UK), CBS
(USA), RTL (Germany), VTM (Belgium), ANTENNA (Spain[?]), NOVA (Poland,) and
TBS (Japan)."
I have sorted out which ANTENNA TV station is a member of the ENEX
consortium. Well, here at the VTM-lijnencentrum the SNG-wizzards told me it
is a commercial Greek TV channel. As far as I know, Antenna's daily
transmissions cannot be received in Central Europe via satellite. But they
can be seen in the US however, as an encrypted service via satellite.
Hopefully their picture quality is better than that of ET1 on EUTELSAT.
Jan Melis <Jan_Melis@qmserver.vtm.be>

That's it!
The next issue of Sat-ND will be out August 16. You may, of course,
continue to send me email, but please don't expect an answer before that
Meanwhile, thanks for reading Sat-ND, thanks for your contributions, and
have a good time! I certainly will do so:

Visit Poland, a lovely country and a great nation with enormously friendly
and hospitable people. Don't be afraid of your car, there are secure car
parks everywhere, open (and being watched) 24 hours a day.

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

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