Sat-ND, 15.9.96

Sat-ND 96-09-15 - Satellite and Media News

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"(c) Copyright 1996 by Sat-ND, http://www.sat-net.com/pck/"
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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/ <<

This issue contains some news from the last few days which didn't appear
in Sat-ND for various reasons (mostly for lack of time.) Still, they may
be of interest to you.


Weather Channels beats UVSGA
United Video Satellite Group (UVSGA) said on Friday it would abandon its
previously announced investment in Pelmorex Inc. 
UVSGA wanted to acquire a 50% economic interest in Pelmorex, a privately
owned Canadian company focused on the distribution of multimedia weather
information services. Pelmorex operates The Weather Network (TWN) and
MeteoMedia, all-weather specialty television services in English and
French respectively, which are distributed to 8 million cable
subscribers, or 95% of the Canadian cable market. Additionally, Pelmorex
International has been aggressively expanding international operations
and currently has weather programming joint ventures in France (La
Chaîne Météo), the United Kingdom (The Weather Network UK) and Italy
(The Weather Network Italy) representing about 1.5 million cable and
satellite direct-to-home subscribers.
"Pelmorex received an unsolicited offer from Landmark Communications
(which operates The Weather Channel in the U.S.)," said Lawrence Flinn,
Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of UVSGA. "We decided that it
would be fiscally irresponsible, and not in the best interest of our
shareholders, to compete with that offer."
It was the second blow for UVSGA within a few weeks. In August, UVSGA
and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. terminated discussions regarding a
previously announced joint venture with UVSGA's Prevue Networks. Both
companies ''were unable to have a meeting of the minds on key governance
provisions of the proposed venture.'' In June, they had signed a letter
of intent to combine their efforts in the electronic program guide
market, including the development of the next generation of interactive
television guides.
United Video Satellite Group provides satellite-delivered video, audio,
data and program promotion services to cable television systems,
satellite dish owners, radio stations and private network users
throughout the Americas, systems integration services to commercial
entities and government agencies in locations throughout the United
States. UVSGA owns and operates a number of subsidiaries including
Prevue Networks, operator of the Prevue Channel; UVTV, distributor of
superstations WGN; Superstar/Netlink, a video programming provider in
the C-band satellite industry; SpaceCom Systems, a satellite distributor
for paging companies; and SSDS, Inc., a national computer systems

INTELSAT checks MPEG-2 equipment
So you thought MPEG-2 was a standard? Come on! Last Friday,
representatives of the international satellite organisation INTELSAT
announced results from an extensive round of digital compression
interoperability testing. The tests were performed last month at
INTELSAT's Technical Laboratories in Washington, DC, in conjunction with
the Inter-Union Satellite Operations Group (ISOG -- an organisation
representing satellite and broadcast professionals around the world.)
Nine manufacturers of MPEG-2 digital compression equipment participated
in the voluntary test that was "undertaken to promote growth of digital
television equipment transmission."
After a similar test round back in April, INTELSAT engineers found that
the open-ended nature of the MPEG-2 specifications required the
establishment of common operating parameter sets (e.g., data rate, FEC
ratio, modulation scheme) to allow for the true testing of the
interoperation between equipment types.
Out of six initial parameters sets, just one was selected and used for
testing under INTELSAT's laboratory conditions -- not exactly a
real-life situation for satellite broadcasters, SNG services and even
satellite DXers. 
Said Vince Walisko, INTELSAT's Group Director for Global Broadcast and
Special Services: "Results show us that the various manufacturers'
equipment can operate with each other." MPEG-2 truly has to be a very
special "standard" if a statement like this is issued. (Just imagine
somebody making much ado about the fact that analogue equipment was
mutually compatible.)
Nonetheless, according to INTELSAT continued development will still be
necessary for universal compatibility of all MPEG-2 encoding and
decoding equipment under fixed baseband operational settings.
Tony Naets, Head of TV News Division of the European Broadcasting Union,
predicted that these tests "will have a major impact on how news, sports
and special events are reported, by allowing greater versatility in how
and where stories are collected." 
And they will of course contribute to the deterioration of picture
quality even on analogue TV channels, but nobody mentioned that.
Test results may be obtained by contacting INTELSAT's corporate
communications department at +1-202-944-7500 (phone,) +1-202-944 7890
(fax,) or marketing.communications@intelsat.int (e-mail.)

Digital TV preserves teletext
Digital television offers a wide range of multimedia services. Strangely
enough, it will offer even the good(?,) but anyway old teletext which
hardly can be called state-of-the-art technology. 
At the International Broadcasters Conference in Amsterdam, TV/COM on
Thursday announced a Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) compliant VBI
Teletext Processor which is a module designed to work as part of
TV/COM's DVB compliant Universal Services Processor (USP.) The USP
digitally encodes video, audio and data signals for transmission over
cable, satellite, or telco distribution systems.
"Teletext is a frequently demanded feature for broadcast systems
throughout Europe and China. In the United Kingdom alone, over 9 million
televisions are equipped with teletext, with more than 800,000 viewers
using it daily," said Bob Luff, TV/COM's president and chief executive
TV/COM is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hyundai Electronics, one of the
largest semiconductor memory manufacturers in the world.

Zeroes and ones
By Grandpa "Just ordinary stinkin' links today, and a bit of whackin'"

That Klanowski guy just told you about the United Video Satellite Group.
They have a Web page, of course, but that's not the issue. UVSGA also
owns the Prevue Channel -- he mentioned that alright, but they also have
a Web site. You still can read "Beta 1.0" somewhere there, so I guess
it's pretty new. 

Speaking of betas: Infoseek has its new, super-duper mega-cool search
engine. It looks much like Altavista, claims to better though, and tells
you everything you never wanted to know anyway. Just go there to watch
the latest trends in the ongoing search engine craze:

Satellite DXers do know Newsforce, a company specialised in providing
Satellite News Gathering (SNG) services. They have decided to put their
pretty empty test pages on the Web, funnily enough on a server in
Cyprus. There's really not much to see there, but just point your
browser at it in case you like news like this: "Peter Henderson, CEO of
Newsforce, saw the Newsforce internet web site and said that it was
excellent." True, in a way.

Why AOL members have a bad reputation on the Internet
A reader with an AOL e-mail address sent a message to this mailing list.
It was bounced anyway, so what? 
The subject was "ewkdj", the message body read "wdlk." Are you trying to
tell us something, Mr K? Let _me_ tell you something: Don't you *ever*
call this show again. This is neither a discussion forum nor the place
to test your e-mail software, moron. Geez...!

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

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