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by I R Baboon
Five Iridiums no go again from Vandenberg, USA yesterday.
Heap wind. But news! Not high wind, low wind this time!!
Next try today.
Useless fact: foooooo
A special version of the Chinese Chang Zheng (Long March) 2C was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in north China's Shanxi Province, successfully carrying two U.S.-made Iridium satellites into orbit.
The rocket features an additional 'distributor stage' capable of simultaneously releasing two satellites into their orbits, news agency Xinhua said. China Great Wall Industry Corp. reportedly will launch even more Iridium satellites.
It was the second launch of Iridium satellites by the rocket and at the same time the 50th flight of a Chang Zheng. An unnamed Chinese space expert was quoted as saying that the success rate of China's rocket launches, currently at 88 percent, was approaching advanced international levels.
He added that the success rate of the Long March Rockets' 50 flights has approached or exceeded that of the first 50 rocket launches by advanced countries.
Useless fact: The furthest point from any ocean would be in China.
Mexico's recently privatised satellite system SatMex will launch its next satellite by the end of the year, reported El Financiero.
SatMex 5, built by Hughes, is ten times more powerful than Morelos II, which it is replacing. SatMex was sold to Loral Telecommunications of the USA and its Mexican ally Telefonica Autrey last year.
Useless fact: foooooo
Direct Broadcast Satellite Corporation (DBSC,) a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar Communications Corporation, which currently operates a direct broadcast satellite over eleven channels announced the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has granted the request for Special Temporary Authority (STA.)
The STA allows DBSC to operate an additional 11 channels numbered 1-21 odd (assigned to R/L DBS) and 8 channels numbered 25-32, odd and even (assigned to Dominion Video Satellite, Inc.) at 61.5 degrees West, a slot which is currently occupied by Echostar 3.
The STA also includes the remaining two channels, 23 and 24, which are unassigned. The STA will permit DBSC to operate all 32 transponders on its satellite for 180 days or until either Dominion or R/L DBS Satellite Corporation receives a license to begin service at the 61.5 degrees West orbital location or either of the two assigned channels are assigned.
The programming on these additional channels will be announced soon, Echostar said in a press release.
Useless fact: The peachmond is a new fruit reported from Mexico as a hybrid between the peach and the almond.
The United States and Norway are planning a giant radar (?) station in Norway's arctic that, according to the official version, will help track space junk.
What a strange coincidence that the station it will be built just a few kilometers from Russian military bases on the Kola Peninsula. Even stranger that it will be operated by Norway's Military Intelligence Service. Whatever equipment is used to track space junk (or something else?) will be covered by a huge, 44 meters tall radom.
Not only is Norway the only NATO member which shares a border with Russia. The country, which has refused to become a member of the European Union, reportedly also is one of the chosen few allowed to use the United States' Echelon system. Echelon allegedly uses similar stations to eavesdrop on telecommunications on a global scale.
The cost of the project was not disclosed. Work on the station is to begin next month and is expected to be completed in 2000. [We'll just have to wait and see whether we'll get some Keplerian elements -- data sets describing the orbits of satellites and space debris -- from Norway as from 2000.]
Useless fact: In the north of Norway, the sun shines constantly for about 14 weeks each summer. Guess what happens there in winter :-(((
by Dr Sarmaz
U.S. regulators want to block the sale of a satellite slot and other assets from Keith Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Ltd. and MCI Communications Corp. to Primestar, the Washington Post reported.
According to sources close to the deal, staff of the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice will recommend soon that the US$1.1-billion sale to Primestar Partners be blocked outright or substantially modified.
The deal includes the transfer of the satellite assets of the ill-fated News-MCI satellite TV service to Primestar Partners, dominated by cable companies, in exchange for non-voting stock. Assets include two direct broadcast satellites and one of the three DBS satellite slots suitable for direct broadcast TV transmission to all states of the U.S.
Justice officials are worried that Primestar will use the powerful News-MCI satellite operations to harm competing satellite TV companies and preserve the cable industry's market dominance, the paper said.
Useless fact: About 70% of Americans who go to college do it just to make more money.
The European Commission may not grant clearance to the British Interactive Broadcasting (BIB) joint venture owned by Keith Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB and British Telecommunications.
"They are not doing what they are required to do ... we may have to come to a final conclusion," a source close to Competition Commissioner Karel van Miert was quoted as saying, adding that the European Union executive would not wait forever. Unless the companies involved don't come up with some new ideas to ease the Commission's concerns, there might be a decision within the next two weeks, the source added.
The EU Commission's main concerns are that
BSkyB and BT already hold dominant positions in their own market sectors;
BIB partners, which also include HSBC Holdings' Midland Bank Plc and Matsushita Electric, plan to heavily subsidise decoder set-top boxes needed for reception;
BT may prefer offering interactive satellite-based services via BIB instead of upgrading its own land-based network, which is essential to allow other companies to offer competing services.
Useless fact: About half the piano's in England are thought to be out of tune.
As reported, Italian and British Prime Misters Prodi and Blair may or may not have talked about Keith Rupert Murdoch's failed attempt to acquire a majority stake in the Italian TV holding company Mediaset on the phone.
Downing Street, absurdly enough, still stick to the line that any discussions between Mr Blair and Mr Prodi were a private matter. But there's even more to that story as Mr Blair even seems to have acted as some kind of postillon d'amour as he was also in close contact to KRM.
According to The Times, Mr Blair rang back Mr Murdoch within two days to tell him that Mr Prodi had made clear he would prefer an Italian purchaser for Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset group.
A Downing Street spokesman defended that act of kindness by saying "The Prime Minister would want to help British business when he can across the spectrum of business. Of course he can telephone conversations with businessmen. Why on earth not?"
Of course, it's common practice for politicians to intervene with other leaders on behalf of domestic companies. Tory MP Tim Collins, however, put his finger on the point when he told BBC Radio 4 that "BSkyB is not a British company, Mr Murdoch is not a British citizen and frankly it beggars belief that every British exporter in the country can pick up the phone to 10 Downing Street and get the Prime Minister to help get an export order."
BSkyB is controlled by KRM's News Corp, an Australian company, while KRM himself is a U.S. citizen for business reasons.
In a letter to Mr Blair, Mr Collins called on the Prime Minister to "set the record straight" and release details of his conversation with Mr Prodi. "I invite you to state whether or not Mr Murdoch asked you to raise the subject of the deal with Signor Prodi and whether or not you did so; and to give details of any meetings which you have had with Mr Murdoch this year," he wrote.
Now that would be really interesting.
Useless fact: A type of jellyfish found off the coast of England is the longest animal in the world.
Phoenix, a satellite television channel set up by Keith Rupert Murdoch's Star TV with Chinese partners, will restructure its programmes right after its second anniversary in a bid to attract more audience, reported Xinhua.
Phoenix, the only TV channel whose programmes are broadcast fully in Putonghua (Mandarin) in Hong Kong, will present its viewers with more political [ha, ha,] economic and social information about Hong Kong, China's inland areas, Taiwan and the world starting from April 1. That's at least what Wang Ji Yan, head of the station, told reporters.
A new current affairs programme will be broadcast in the early morning, he said. Phoenix would also provide more commentaries, analyses and backgrounders on the current affairs.
Phoenix was established on March 31, 1996. Its programmes can be received in 30 countries and regions in the Asia-Pacific region. Most of its viewers are Chinese speakers in the region. It is the first non-mainland satellite TV operation to secure official approval to broadcast into the prosperous southern province of Guangdong, considered a lucrative advertising market.
Useless fact: City with the most Rolls Royce's per capita: Hong Kong.
Local TV station ATV in Hong Kong is in talks with a Hong Kong-U.S. consortium that wants to acquire a stake in the company, a spokesman confirmed.
He refused to give any details. In particular, he declined any comment whether media mogul Keith Rupert Murdoch was involved.
The daily Hong Kong Standard newspaper on Thursday said a mainland Chinese-led consortium involving KRM's News Corp., whose group also controls Hong Kong-based satellite broadcaster Star TV, was close to taking a slice of ATV.
The consortium would take up 51 percent of the stake of chairman and major shareholder Lim Por-yen, whose family and companies own 67.5 percent of ATV, the newspaper said, quoting unnamed sources close to the deal.
KRM's Star TV, which partly owns Phoenix Satellite Television Co., denied it was involved in any negotiations with ATV.
Useless fact: People who are dishonestly smuggling Vietnamese boat people to Hong Kong are known in refugee circles as "snake heads."
I don't know whether KRM also owns travel agencies... anyway, back to the UK.
There is some confusion about whether English premier league football [soccer] will be available on pay-TV. My favourite news agency said that the clubs "have rejected a proposal from [KRM's] satellite broadcaster BSkyB to introduce pay-per-view television coverage of matches from next season."
"There was a specific proposal put forward by BSkyB but the club chairmen felt more background information and more research was needed," spokesman Mike Lee was quoted as saying.
The BBC's news Web site today however said that "Premier League clubs are considering a plan by the satellite broadcaster BSkyB to introduce 'pay per view' football for their matches."
Useless fact: Top English football club Liverpool were formed because their local enemies, Everton, couldn't pay the rent for their stadium. Therefore Liverpool took over at the stadium (Anfield) and became one of England's top football teams.[I don't know who they're doing nowadays, actually. Please don't complain if this turns out to be a rather ancient useless fact.]
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