Sat-ND, 24.11.1997 The Big Sleep
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Over the next few weeks, Sat-ND will be published sporadically rather than daily.
Less cities, more moving people
First of all, what I wrote above is not one of my wacky jokes. I probably really won't be able to produce this so-called newsletter every day during the next two or three weeks because I've got some other work to do. On the other hand, this is definitely no loss just have a look at the incredibly boring news that follow... Fish finding satellites, twenty-year old weather satellites it can't get much worse than that, can it?
Orbital Imaging Corporation (ORBIMAGE), the Earth-imaging subsidiary of Orbital Sciences Corporation (Nasdaq: ORBI), today announced the inauguration of its SeaStar Fisheries Information Service.
The service, which is currently run as a trial demonstration, offers daily Fish Finding Maps, derived from satellite images of the world's oceans, to high-seas fishing fleets and to other fishing organisations. Full commercial operations are set to begin on January 15, 1998. And that's where we leave this fishy business.
You're still awake? This will knock you out immediately. Twenty years ago, Europe launched its first weather satellite Meteosat.
The spacecraft revolutionised weather forecasting by enabling meteorologists to have a look at the whole Atlantic Ocean from above. Until then, they were depending on weather balloons and data gathered by planes and vessels.
Meteosat's operator Eumetsat, founded in 1986, is an organisation set up by 17 European governments. Before that, Meteosat satellites were controlled from ESA's Space Control Centre.
Supercanal Holding S. A. has acquired a majority share of TDH, the only direct broadcast satellite system authorised to operate in Argentina.
Supercanal in a press release stated that "In purchasing a 60 percent share of TDH, Supercanal now has the ability to offer direct broadcast services throughout Argentina. TDH operates through the satellite Nahuel, which is owned by a private consortium, and currently serves 5,000 subscribers. The service is experiencing strong demand in areas not served by conventional technologies. The remaining shares of TDH are owned by Laser, Inc., which is controlled by major shareholders of the Brazilian pay TV company Multicanal Participacoes."
Supercanal also announced it has completed the acquisition of the Aconcagua cable system in Mendoza where Supercanal is headquartered and operates one of its major systems. Supercanal now serves over 500,000 subscribers in Argentina.
The company said a group of banks and financial institutions has funded a US$500 million credit facility to be primarily used to refinance existing debt and to complete several acquisitions.
Dozens of European commercial TV channels so far signed an agreement on news gathering with the French company called European news Exchange SA (ENEX.) The European Commission now has launched a routine probe.
ENEX was set up by Luxembourg's CLT, its subsidiaries RTL Plus, RTL4 SA, RTL2 and RTL-TVI SA as well as French commercial channel M6. Commercial stations from all Europe (including almost all RTL channels and BSkyB,) the Americas, and Japan have signed an agreement with ENEX that aims to promote the exchange of news material on a non-profit basis to help its members reduce costs. ENEX may also provide material and manpower for news gathering and coverage.
The Commission said in a statement that the agreements could fall under EU rules banning practices restrictive of trade or abuse of dominant positions.
Selling digital TV equipment is not a big business, of course. The companies involved should know that after all, the subscription fees for direct broadcast services (BDS) are expected to earn the money.
Business history knows many examples where products were given away as presents, starting with oil lamps. Why? To sell the oil, of course. Having mentioned that, it's strange to note that some companies still think they have to make profits from the direct-broadcast-satellite (DBS) sales, distribution and installation business.
That's exactly what TCI and Cox, two of the five cable companies backing the U.S. DBS service Primestar, plan to do owing to sharply reduced profit margins, reported Cable World. TCI Satellite Entertainment Inc. (TSAT), TCI's satellite spinoff, says it has saved at least US$100 per installation by switching from TCI cable systems to private contractors.
Chris Sophinos, senior VP of sales and distribution for Primestar Inc., who's also president of TSAT, reportedly estimates that TCI cable systems now execute only 5 percent of TSAT's Primestar installations, down from 50 percent last spring.
French terrestrial channels expect major drops in audience shares now that digital satellite comes into full swing. The situation is different from other countries, though: there are three digital bouquets available.
Terrestrial viewing figures "will be eroded because [digital] supply is strong," Michele Pappalardo, managing director of France 2, the leading French public television channel, told my favourite news agency in an interview.
"We are sticking to our objective which is a quarter of the audience of French general stations. We are at 23.7 percent since the beginning of this year," she said. France 2's parent, France Television, holds eight percent of digital satellite television service TPS (Television par Satellite), which is operated by TF1.
So far, the satellite competition affected mostly the privatised channel TF1, now France 2's main rival. Last August, TF1 vice chairman Etienne Mougeotte said there had been a drop in the station's audience figures over five or six years because of the growth of satellite channels.
Copyright 1997 by Peter C. Klanowski, pck@LyNet.De. All rights reserved.
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