Sat-ND, 4.10.96

Sat-ND 96-10-04 - Satellite and Media News

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This issue is sponsored by TELE-satellite, Europe's Satellite Magazine 
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Just in case you didn't know: SPUTNIK, the world's first man-made
satellite, was launched this very day 39 years ago (October 4, 1957.)
Instead of transmitting any TV programming, it just kept repeating "The
East is Red" in Morse code, anyway.

Leo goes to Hollywood
German media magnate Leo Kirch still has some money left. Having clinched
several billion-dollar output deals with Hollywood majors over the last few
months, he now starts to go for production companies directly -- although
on a modest level. His KirchGruppe plans to acquire a 7.5 percent stake in
New Regency Productions Inc., one of Hollywood's biggest independent film
producers. New Regency was founded five years ago and has since become a
major supplier of films to Warner Bros. 
New Regency's founder Arnon Milchan still holds a 65.5 percent stake in the
company. The other shareholders are the other Australian media mogul Kerry
Packer (27 percent) and the electronics company Samsung of South Korea. 
It is yet unknown how Kirch's investment will affect the other
shareholders' stakes. New Regency announced that in addition to
KirchGruppe, another investor is expected to join the company within the
next six months.

Court injunction against Leo
There's still trouble ahead in Germany. Apart from Leo Kirch's digital
package DF1 that attracted just a few thousand subscribers up to now,
there's only one pay-TV channel: premiere with 1.3 million subscribers. The
channel's biggest problem: it is owned by three rivalling companies. Leo
Kirch holds a 25 percent stake, the former allies Bertelsmann and Canal+
own 37.5 percent each. Canal+ recently announced it will merge with
NetHold, a pay-TV company with close ties to Kirch.
Today, a higher district court in Munich issued an injunction banning DF1
from competing with premiere on the "premium movie" sector. The premiere
management, which sought for the injunction, claimed it would also affect
all pay-per-view services offered by DF1. 
Funnily enough, there's also another injunction, issued by a different
court last month, that forbids premiere to claim it was the only provider
of those "premium movies" on TV.
Of course, all those injunctions are nothing but temporary court orders
until the legal cases are settled. The talks over the future of premiere
will go on anyway -- although obviously they did not produce any results so
(Thanks to Thomas Gmuer for sending me the premiere press release.)

Hungary digitally on ASTRA 1E
Hungarian Broadcasting Corp. (HBC) announced that its satellite channel ("M
Sat") is now broadcasting 24 hours per day on ASTRA 1E following a
three-week test period. M Sat is transmitted digitally on transponder 93
and can be received with a digital decoder all over Hungary, both by cable
operators as well as by individual satellite receivers.
HBC has so far contracted with 80 Hungarian cable operators giving M Sat a
technical reach of 30 percent the country's households. According to HBC's
marketing plans, this reach will be increased to 50 percent by the end of
this year and 60 to 70 percent by the end of 1997. In comparison, MTV2, the
second Hungarian national terrestrial channel, has a technical reach of 80
In July, HBC announced it would use ASTRA 1E only temporarily to fill the
gap until EUTELSAT Hot Bird 2 is launched. A contract with NetHold calls
for A3 TV (as the channel was called back then) to be broadcast via Hot
Bird 2 which is expected to be launched this month.

CNE launches 1stNet, ART and Showtime digital bouquets
At a launch party for hardware dealers in the ballroom of the Semiramis
Inter•Continental in Cairo, Cable Network Egypt (CNE) launched the MPEG 2
digital bouquets of 1stNet, ART and Showtime Network on October 2.
After drinks, speeches and a grand theatrical introduction, all channels
presently available were displayed on individual TV-sets with their
respective IRDs. The PAS 4 signal was received by a fixed 1.50 cm dish, a
single cable was fed through splitters to the IRDs. The quality of the
received pictures was excellent; stereo sound was superb, where available.
All Non-Arabic programmes feature Arabic subtitles, except for the music
The signal is picked up from PAS 4 at 68.5 degrees East on the following
frequencies:11.464, 11.524, 11.585 and 11.649 GHz h.
What did surprise me however was the pricing for subscribers: The basic
bouquet (ART 4, ART 3, ART 1, Nile Drama Channel, ESC 2, TNT/Cartoon
Network) costs LE 1056 or US$310 a year. Additionally, M-Net, LBC Plus,
Future TV, ART 5 and ART 2 can be subscribed at US$120 per year each. The
Showtime bouquet costs an additional LE 1995 or US$588 per year
(discounted.) Hardware retail prices for set-top boxes start at LE 2998 or
US$882 for a Pace DVR 500. 
You can imagine what a run on the shops this will cause in a third world
(Henk C. Room / Cairo, Egypt)

DMX Canada to launch early 1997
Digital Music Express Canada announced today that it is beginning trials in
several markets across the country. "We're tuning up for our formal launch
early in 1997," said Heather Shaw, President of DMX Canada and well known
to all readers of Sat-ND. Nation-wide testing of the service will start
immediately, beginning with Calgary, Windsor, Hamilton, Toronto and
Canada is a multicultural country and DMX will reflect that cultural
diversity in its music," said Shaw. "Canadians from many different ethnic
backgrounds have expressed their support for DMX because they can hear
music they love in their own language. Whether it's German, Italian, Greek,
Chinese, French, Caribbean or African, they can hear it on DMX. You won't
find that variety or diversity anywhere else."

By Dr Sarmaz <DrSarmaz@aol.com>

Rugby Rupert
Rupert Murdoch today announced a joint venture with ESPN, the U.S. sports
channel from Walt Disney/ABC, to launch sports programming services
throughout Asia except for Japan, Australia and New Zealand, where both
parties had already embarked on other ventures. 
The announcement seems to be connected to a legal battle over Mr Murdoch's
Rugby Super League which was approved today by the Australian Federal
Court. Murdoch has already spent A$270 million (US$214 million) on the
rebel league challenging the Australian Rugby League (ARL.)
However, the court also ordered Mr Murdoch's News Corp to pay damages to
the ARL for the disruption caused by the attempt to create his own Rugby
Nonetheless, Mr Murdoch's son Lachlan at a press conference today hailed
the ruling as "a win not only for Super League and for supporters of rugby
league in general and the players and also for Foxtel obviously." He
indicated that Foxtel might sell the free-to-air rights to Mr Murdoch's
arch rival Kerry Packer. "If they [Packer's Nine Network] have the cash to
put up...we will listen to them, absolutely." Nine Network currently
broadcasts the Australian Rugby League (ARL) matches.
The Murdoch League matches are not only expected to appear on Foxtel but
also on the joint venture with ESPN already mentioned. 

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

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