Sat-ND, 22.10.97

Sat-ND, 22.10.97

Sat-ND, 22.10.1997 – Wielki Swiat

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Today's Headlines

Sorry! StarOffice today refuses to produce any table of contents. Must be the weather. As I mentioned earlier, I hate software companies.


Second Iridium failure

Even though just half of Iridium's 66-satellite system has been deployed so far, we're now beginning to get the idea what failure rates to expect from small, mass-produced Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.

A second of the 34 Iridium satellites launched has dropped out. According to a statement from Motorola, the spacecraft "has experienced a problem with the attitude control for one of the Iridium satellites prior to attaining final orbit. Motorola is continuing to investigate the problem but believes that the malfunction will result in the satellite not being included in the Iridium constellation.

"Motorola has factored satellite loss into its planning for constellation deployment and has advised Iridium LLC that it remains on course for commercial service activation in September 1998." Five more Iridium satellites are to be launched next month. And as Motorola is pretty generous, it said that "Iridium LLC will not bear the financial risk for loss of this satellite." (The Iridium project is, of course, led by Motorola.)

The first malfunction of an Iridium satellite occurred in July when there were 17 of them already launched. It's quite impressive that the second one happened when there were 34 satellites, exactly twice as much as 17. At least, it makes a failure rate of about 6 percent more likely.


More news about military satellites

The U.S. Air Force will launch another laser target... oops! Rewind that tape please.

The U.S. Air Force will launch the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) Phase IIIB (or III-2) satellite aboard an Atlas IIA launcher from Cape Canaveral next Friday, October 24th.

The launch window stays open from 7:37 p.m. to 8:56 p.m. ET. Coverage of the launch attempt will be on Galaxy 9/22, beginning at 7:10 p.m. ET.

The DSCS system provides military communications to troops in the field. A brief glance at the Keplerian elements of the system's satellites, and that's all I have, shows that there aren't too many of them:


TV5 dans les Etats-Unis

TV5 La Télévision Internationale will begin broadcasting in the USA in December 1997. A Conference of Ministers responsible for TV5 from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and Quebec recently gave the go-ahed for the channel's U.S. launch.

TV5 will initially be transmitted across the United States 24 hours daily via direct broadcast satellite on EchoStar's DISH Network. Cable distribution will commence as soon as channel capacity permits. The newly created TV5 USA, Inc, holds all US rights to the network and will handle all operations.

In the tradition of TV5 Europe, TV5 Quebec-Canada, TV5 Africa, TV5 Asia, TV5 Latin America and the Caribbean, TV5 USA will offer French-language programming from France, Switzerland, Belgium, Quebec, French Canada and French Africa. [Really interesting, the recurring differentiation of Canada and Quebec.]


Is there any need for a channel like that? Mais oui, naturallement!, says TV5 in its press release that, strangely enough though, is in English and not in French. More than 14 million people living in the U.S. are of French origin, and of those more than two million speak French at home. Francophones make up the third largest linguistic community in the United States, following the Spanish-speaking population. As well, there are 150 Francophone associations which together number more than 55,000 members.

The programming grid for the U.S. market has been designed to succeed in the highly competitive American television environment and will largely feature, movies, drama, news and current affairs. TV5 USA will be the first French language network to broadcast across the United States. With the network's expansion into the US, TV5's reach extends across five continents into more than 70 million homes in 100 countries.

What's on PAS-5?

PanAmSat Corp. has named some of the channels its PAS-5 Atlantic Ocean Region satellite will deliver to Latin America in the C-band, utilising the Americas beam, which provides coverage of the Americas with access to Europe.

In addition to the C-band programming, PAS-5 (58°W) is the platform for Sky Latin America's direct-to-home television service in Mexico. Sky Latin America, which is using 12 Ku-band transponders on PAS-5, is a partnership formed by News Corporation, Grupo Televisa, Organizacoes Globo and Tele-Communications International Inc.

The C-band line-up includes:

PAS-5, a Hughes HS 601 HP satellite with 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders on board, was launched last August.

Some kind of child abuse

Now some bad news for a change. Children's television station Nickelodeon, owned by Viacom Inc., said its German unit had doubled its market share in its key target group in the first three quarters.

Among children between the ages of three and 13 in households with cable or satellite TV service, Nickelodeon said it now posted a seven percent market share, up from 3.5 percent in January.

"The satisfaction among advertising customers has brought an above-average increase in ad income in 1997 and a promising booking situation for 1998," a spokesman said.

Why bad news? Children shouldn't watch TV at all, and anybody who puts three-year olds in front of the tube actually is mistreating them. Subjecting children to commercials is a kind of exploitation, of child abuse. As the commercials carried on so-called children's channels are directly targeted at children, they're even worse than others.


YA*TV against the Wild Wild West

Are the United Nations, mainly financed by Western nations, actively helping Asian countries to shield themselves from "the massive overdose of Western values and lifestyles on TV screens"?

An operation that claims it was supported by the U.N., YA*TV (Young Asia Television,) was established almost exactly two years ago. It says it was "based on the issues and values promoted around the world by the United Nations." YA*TV's programs deal with U.N.-related issues such as human development [whatever that may mean, that species unfortunately hasn't developed too much over the past few thousand years if you take a closer look at it,] environmental protection, drug control, and education, but probably not with issues such as freedom of speech or human rights in general.

Dictators seem to love it

Otherwise it can hardly be explained why the service is such a success with governments that more or less oppose (and even actively hamper) free flow of information. We're not talking about entertainment channels and commercials here; most countries won't mind harmless U.S. or European soap operas if their local channels can afford them. If not, U.S. entertainment channels will be available on satellite. This may admittedly be a real threat for any culture in the World, much more than news channels that cling to professional standards.

But no, obviously it's the news channels YA*TV opposes. "With the spread of globalization [yes, funnily enough they speak American English,] the airwaves of Asian countries are being increasingly invaded by overseas broadcasters, including Cable News Network (CNN), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Sky News, International Television Network (ITN) and Star Television, all of which are owned and run by international conglomerates." Can anybody tell me what's wrong with truly international television? A Norwegian can.

"Several Asian leaders have expressed concern about the strong influence of non-Asian values and lifestyles by foreign satellite networks beaming their signals to the millions in Asia," says Arne Fjortoft, President of YATV (by no means of Asian origin but of Norwegian birth.) But does that mean anything unless those "leaders" were democratically elected by their people?

What is it?

YA*TV was set up by Worldview International Foundation, an international NGO (non-governmental organisation) with consultative status at the United Nations. Together with private investors who "share their values," the foundation has established Worldview Global Television Ltd., to develop and manage YA*TV as a financially viable project.

Headquartered in Malaysia and with production centres in Sri Lanka and other Asian countries, YA*TV has signed program exchange and co-operation agreements with major local television networks in China, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, and other countries. YA*TV's target audience is the young population of Asia, who represent more than half of the continent's 3 billion people.

The network has been buying air time for its programs and selling commercial space to cover some of its costs. Currently, it has an agreement with India's state broadcaster Doordarshan, which has an audience of more than 400 million viewers. YA*TV is also negotiating with Central China TV, which has nearly 900 million viewers.

By next year, viewers in more than 15 Asian countries including Cambodia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Vietnam will be able to watch YA*TV programs through their national network and cable channels. YA*TV said it operates in "close co-operation with the United Nations and its specialised agencies."

Poor old Arthur

The best is yet to come. The man who started the whole nonsense some 50 years ago by proposing geostationary communications satellites [not by discovering the geostationary orbit which had been known since the twenties of this century,] is science-fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke. He lives in Sri Lanka and also had something to say. "For years, I have been appalled to see much of the fare that is beamed through television channels of both developed and developing countries.

"I have known and admired Worldview International Foundation for many years and hope that YA*TV will provide a much-needed counterbalance against the increasing abuse of the television medium by commercial and consumerist interests."

Hate to break the news to you: TV may not just be used to make money from crappy, useless products; abuse children (see above;) and in addition generally waste people's time they could use better otherwise. That's what it's used for in the West, and I do share Clarke's views on that. But I think it's inherent to TV -- you'd have to abolish it completely to get rid of those negative effects. [I wouldn't mind at all.] But an anti-Western stance is no virtue in itself. TV may as well be used by dictatorial (and other) regimes to spread propaganda and in effect deprive their people of basic human rights. A channel that is negotiating with the communist Chinese regime, such as YA*TV, just can't be expected to promote democracy and freedom of speech. Are these U.N. values?

Of course, the same same applies to all other companies that also want to tap the Chinese and other Asian TV markets, above all Rupert Murdoch's Star TV that would love to beam politically correct programs to China (and does so at a modest scale within its Phoenix venture.)

So what's the difference to YA*TV anyway?



PrimeStar's positions

PrimeStar is moving ahead with plans for its high-power service that, unlike the current offering, can be received with small dishes – from different orbital positions?

An initial service offering a limited number of channels is slated for launch in early 1998 at 119°W. By the same time, PrimeStar will have become a publicly-traded company and taken over News Corp's direct broadcast assets which include the license for 110°W. A larger service is expected to start there as early as June 1998.

However, the are still some regulatory issues. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission stiil has to decide upon the 119-degree license transfer from TCI Satellite's Tempo unit to PrimeStar. The deal is also subject to approval by TSAT shareholders. The News Corp transaction also needs government approval. Currently, the Justice Department is investigating the matter.

PrimeStar plans to use TSAT's Tempo satellite at 119°W for a mix of at most 120 channels directly sold to consumers and program delivery to other multichannel companies. At 110°W, a similar service such as those of DirecTV and EchoStar's DISH network is planned.


Ben Jury complained: "Argh! What happened? Where once there was a nice on the eyes yellow background, there is now a burn those eyes away white!" Okay, you've got your yellow back after we consulted our usability lab. Want some light slime/pus/vomit green instead? We could arrange that as well. Anyway, check the contrast and brightness adjustment of you monitor please ;-)

Jürgen Bartels had to contribute this to the kapusta mystery: "Hey hey! That's our (Germany) chancellor!" Hopefully, not for too long anymore.

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

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