Sat-ND, 29.1.97

Sat-ND 97-01-29 - Satellite and Media News

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An Ariane 44L rocket will attempt to lift nearly 5 tonnes into orbit tomorrow,
the heaviest payload ever carried by an Ariane launcher. Flight 93 is scheduled
for between 2204 and 2332 UTC. As the L indicates, the rocket will be equipped
with four liquid strap-on boosters.
There are two satellites on board: GE2 (2,649 kg) was built by Lockheed Martin
Astro Space. On of its main customers will be the Primestar DBS service. GE2
will allow Primestar, run by TCI Satellite and other cable operators, to expand
its programming lineup by at least 65 channels.
NAHUEL 1A, Argentina's first communications satellite, weighs in at 1,790 kg.
Before you write in to complain that those two satellites don't make up for 5
tonnes, remember that there's also a 460-kg installation aboard the rocket that
separates them both. The total weight of the payload will be 4,899 kg.

TCI Satellite (TSAT) will not sell one of its Loral-built DBS satellites to
Telesat Canada. The US$300-million deal was scrapped after the Canadian
Television and Radio Commission (CRTC) dismissed Telesat's "fast-track"
application for a digital TV license (Sat-ND, 8.1.97.) 
However, a TSAT spokesperson announced the company was "looking at the most
optimal use of it." There seem to be prospective buyers, probably another
international company, but reportedly not (no, really) Rupert Murdoch's ASkyB.
In the meantime, the satellite will be kept as a backup for an identical
satellite that is slated for launch in February or March. It will offer a
complementary version of Primestar to cable subscribers with limited channel
capacity. The satellite will be positioned at 119W, where 11 transponders are
licensed to TSAT's subsidiary Tempo Satellite Inc.
Telesat has announced to move forward with its plans for digital TV, instead
using three of its medium-power ANIK satellites. Transponders will be leased to
ExpressVu Inc. and StarChoice Television Network, both of which hold a license
for Canadian digital TV services. 

ABC Cable Networks, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co., has announced to form
a new corporation with Comcast Corp. in order to take over a majority interest
in the entertainment channel E! from Time Warner. 
Gerry Laybourne, president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks, said in a statement:
"We believe E! Entertainment Television is a natural fit for ABC and has
enormous potential which we jointly intend to develop fully. This cable network
will bring new dimension to ABC's existing cable lineup." Which by the way
consists of ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, The Disney Channel, Lifetime, A&E and The
History Channel.

Should you happen to live in Kuwait and have had enough of boring satellite TV,
you can now swap your satellite dish for other electrical appliances. Same
applies to those old video tapes you never watch anyway, and even to audio
All these things are blasphemous, says an Islamist group in Kuwait, offering
prizes to those who hand over their tapes and destroy their satellite
equipment. According to a local newspaper, the group has so far managed to
destroyed three satellite receivers, 300 video tapes and 1,000 audio cassettes.
[Once again, I really wonder if this is the New World Order the U.S. proclaimed
when they launched "Operation Desert Storm." -- Ed.] 

Germans do not know how to handle media. They actually do believe them, as a
recent survey conducted by the French institute Sofres in several European
countries shows.
If the figures are true, Germans believe almost everything, be it on TV, radio
or in the papers. 80 percent of Germans believe what radio news tell them, 74
percent trust in TV, 70 percent think that press reports are generally true. 
Media consumers in other countries seem to differentiate. In Britain, the
respective figures are quite different: 85 percent for TV, 79 percent for radio
(well, they have the BBC, you know,) but just 48 percent for newspapers (well,
they have Rupert Murdoch's papers, you know.)
In France, consumers are even more sceptical: 59 percent for radio, 49 percent
for TV, 47 percent for papers. Spaniards and Italians were also questioned;
they perform somewhere in-between. 

UPDATE: DF1 STOPPED -- Sat-ND, 22.1.97
A week ago, a district court in Hamburg ordered Leo Kirch to stop advertising
and offering his digital pay-TV package DF1 outside the federal state of
Bavaria. The judges endorsed a complaint by the rivalling pay-TV station
premiere. They argued that the license issued to DF1 in Bavaria did not entitle
him to offer him digital pay-TV in all of Germany. 
The court yesterday suspended the injunction until further notice. DF1
subscriptions may now be offered nation-wide again. 

Multichoice sold its 50,000th subscription this week! Well, that's in the
Netherlands only, of course...

SBS has filed a complaint against RTL 5 Nieuws & Weer [News and Weather] in
Brussels, claiming RTL would not keep a promise to turn the station into a
dedicated news-only channel. RTL 5 also broadcasts series and films in addition
to news and weather forecasts.

RUPERTWATCH -- by Dr Sarmaz
India is known for holy cows. That holy cow status does not only apply to cows,
actually, but for instance also to media ownership. Rupert Murdoch sparked a
tremendous row last June when he reportedly suggested to invest 50 billion
rupees (US$1.4 billion) in a satellite uplink site for his Asian venture Star
TV. Several Indian opposition parties called foreign media "a threat to our
national security" and "a great danger" that will "eventually impinge on our
sovereignty," or simply the "end of our print and electronic media" (Sat-ND,
Now, India may sell one of state broadcaster Doordarshan's channels.
Doordarshan 3, or DD3 for short, is by no means an attractive channel. It
mainly consists of cultural and current affairs programmes. But the reason why
the channel is a loss-maker is probably that nobody can watch it. Well, almost
nobody; DD3 has just four terrestrial transmitters in India. DD2 has 40, DD1
even 800. 
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry will now ask the Indian cabinet to
allow private investment in DD3 to make it become a real terrestrial channel.
Three billion rupees (US$84 million) would be enough to set up some thirty
transmitters. Now, would you believe that any of the well-know media companies
would be interested in investing in terrestrial transmitters for an elitist
channel in India?
Not only that; they just can't wait for it! Subash Chandra of Zee TV, India's
most successful private cable channel, reportedly has shown some interest. So
have Malaysia's Measat and the other Australian media magnate, Kerry Packer. He
wants to pay A$150 million for a 49 percent stake in DD3. But wherever Mr
Packer is, Rupert Murdoch can't be too far. According to the New Australian,
one of Mr Murdoch's own newspapers, Star TV also is interested. But wherever Mr
Murdoch is, a certain Ted Turner can't be too far. Word has it that his
invention CNN, now a part of Time-Warner, is also ready to submit a bid should
the government proceed with the plans of selling DD3.

It is really getting harder day by day to spend those billions. Mr Murdoch,
whose Fox network has for the first time transmitted the Super Bowl, now wants
his own football (i.e. football, _not_ soccer) team. Last week he indicated he
was interested in buying the Los Angeles Dodgers. After the Super Bowl, he said
he would like to own a National Football League franchise in Los Angeles "if no
one else steps forward."
Or is it just the thought that Ted Turner owns something that Mr Murdoch
doesn't? Actually, Time Warner Inc. acquired the Atlanta Braves as part of its
purchase of Ted Turner's cable-TV empire. Ironically, even their matches are
shown on Fox, too. 

Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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