Sat-ND, 17.7.97

Sat-ND, 18.07.97 -- Even More Useless News

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Today's Headlines

FCC to Open U.S. Satellite Market
The Never-Ending Story of India's Media Law
CNNSI Launched
Whooooaaaaaaaaa! Another one!
HTML again


FCC to Open U.S. Satellite Market

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed rules that would make it easier for foreign owned satellite companies to provide telecommunication service in the USA.
Currently, satellite companies licensed in countries that belong to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have to undergo a "competitive opportunities" test that examines whether U.S. companies have similar economic opportunities in the foreign carrier's country. The new FCC proposals, which are the first results of the WTO agreement reached in February, would eliminate the need for this test. This applies, however, just to the 130 WTO countries -- Russia and China are, for instance, not members of the organisation.
The final rules are expected to be adopted in November. According to the FCC proposals, the deregulation includes all kinds of satellite-based telecommunications services, even direct-to-home TV and all those trendyphone and data services. FCC Chairman Reed Hundt expects the changes to lower prices and increase choices for U.S. consumers.

The Never-Ending Story of India's Media Law

Today, the state monopoly on satellite usage and ownership in India has ended. Private companies will be allowed to use transponders on state-owned satellites or even set up their own commercial communications satellite systems. In theory, that is.
According to a government statement, "Operations from Indian soil will be allowed with both Indian and foreign satellites in accordance with norms and conditions to be evolved but Indian satellites will be accorded preferential treatment."
So, everything settled now? Not at all. "With this far-reaching decision of the cabinet, in the next few months the government will work out the norms and conditions concerning the various aspects of the policy for its effective implementation."
Of course, "It is expected that the enunciation [statement] of the policy framework will lead to the development of a healthy and thriving communications satellite and ground equipment industry as well as satellite communications service industry in India."
It's not quite clear to me what the government statement actually means. The situation was as follows: After years of debate, India's ruling centre-left coalition put a broadcasting bill before parliament last May. A pretty complicated bill, however, that irritated foreign and domestic media companies.
Separate licenses will be issued for each sector of the broadcast industry, i.e. terrestrial broadcasters, local cable channels, satellite broadcasters on cable networks, and direct-to-home (DTH) satellite services. While foreign companies may hold up to 49 percent in satellite ventures, they're completely barred from terrestrial TV. In addition, there will be ''cross-service'' curbs, allowing companies to hold just licenses only in one broadcast sectors.
That means, as an example, that Rupert Murdoch now has to choose. He may continue to set up his planned US$500-million DTH pay-TV service or his free-to-air Star TV channels that are carried on cable networks. Other foreign broadcasters are also available via cable or satellite, broadcasting from other countries. However, state broadcaster Doordarshan still has a 70 percent market reach, cashing in US$209 million of total adverts expenditure of US$321 million.
India has 50 million TV households, 18 million of which had some access to satellite television. Industry officials expect a big future for Indian TV owing to the country's high economic growth.


CNNSI Launched

Yet another Timer-Warner site has launched on the WWW, offering content from CNN; its sports cable network CNN/SI,Sports Illustrated and Turner Sports.
What's the difference between this site and others such as ESPN Sports Zone and CBS SportsLine? According to Steve Zales, general manager of CNN/SI Interactive, the site will provide "much more of an international focus." He added that Time Warner is making "a major financial investment" in it. Nonetheless, it's free. Zales: "The types of content you have to pay for at the other sites will be in a free area."
Among the promised offerings are archival articles and photos, up-to-the-minute scores and a section that includes material from SI Women/Sport. The site will initially offer 100,000 pages of content. [Just compare that to my four or five ;-] There's no word yet on any possible on-line coverage of the proposed boxing fight Turner v/s Murdoch, though.

Whooooaaaaaaaaa! Another one!

The world of television viewing grew brighter today, claims RCA in a press release, with the introduction of the RCA Network Computer -- a small, affordable set-top product that transforms the family TV into a multimedia machine delivering personalized entertainment and interactive services at the touch of a button.
"The RCA Network Computer empowers the family TV with exciting new capabilities like Internet access and interactive services such as communicating by E-mail, on-line shopping, and electronic banking," said Thomson Consumer Electronics' Louis E. Lenzi, Vice President-Multimedia Products & Services. "It also offers promise as an aid in household organizing, homework preparation, and research activities."
That seems to prove that the French company is not too familiar with U.S. viewing habits which are determined by the fact that households that usually have at least one TV set per person. Family viewing? Ridiculous. Even children often have TV sets in their sleeping rooms.
Okay, companies. When will you finally realise that the average couch potato does not want your fancy Internet stuff but just wants to get entertained, moving just her or his thumb to flip through 500 channels instead of interactively communicating with anybody?
But no, RCA is still seeing pies in the sky. The two boxes introduced, available at ann estimated retails price of US$ 349 and 299 respectively, "will change the way consumers spend leisure time and the way they accomplish their daily tasks," expects Monsieur Lenzi. Technical details:based on Oracle Corp. subsidiary Network Computer Inc. Technology; easily connected to a standard colour TV; and Thomson is aligned with NetChannel Inc. to add even more entertainment value to the NC product.
"As this product evolves," said Lenzi, "we envision an entire family of products that merge the capability for Internet access with the entertainment values of such products as the Digital Satellite System and the Digital Video Disc player. Movies, sports, and entertainment channels will be available along with Internet activities, all from a single consumer-friendly device linked to the family TV."
Rubbish with a big R.


HTML again

Some readers wrote in to complain about the HTML formatting, stating that they prefer text in Times New Roman. Well, funnily enough, the original document used only Times New Roman for text. For unknown reasons, Microsoft Internet Mail does not convert HTML correctly when copied and pasted from Word 97. It looks good when received by Microsoft Internet Mail, but it's more or less crap when received by Netscape products (shudder.) It works the other way round, though: Today, I received an HTML message from somebody who used Netscape -- it just produced a blank page when read by Microsoft Internet Mail.
As I said yesterday, I'm now willing to give Star Office 4.0 a try. It is actually the most innovative office suite around, but it unfortunately still suffers from some teething problems.

Copyright 07/97 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.

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