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U.S. television network NBC confirmed reports that it will scrap almost all of its NBC Europe and NBC Asia programming.
The main points of NBC's press release:
"Effective on July 1, 1998, NBC Europe will convert its programming in 11 million homes to the National Geographic Channel. This distribution will include the U.K., Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, and Israel.
"Also effective on July 1, the NBC Asia distribution platform, currently reaching 7 million homes, will convert its programming to National Geographic Channel Asia, a 24-hour per day, seven days a week programming service."
The National Geographic Channel Europe will air CNBC and NBC News material in a six-hour block from 6 a.m. to noon (Central European Time). In Asia, the National Geographic Channel will contain up to four hours a day of NBC News material.
It seems that CNBC versions in Europe and Asia are not affected. After all, they merged with Dow Jones' business channels in the respective region to become 'CNBC: A Service of NBC and Dow Jones.'
There's a special development in the German speaking countries, though, where NBC via satellite and cable has a technical reach of 25 million homes (Germany alone has some 34 million TV households.) NBC Europe, together with a group of German television producers and investors, plans to continue distribution, retaining the most popular shows from its current programming line-up, including "Dateline," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," and would enhance its line-up with locally produced content on the channel.
NBC Europe has a strong technical reach in German cable networks because it took over the Italian Super Channel, one of the first satellite TV channels in Europe. Unlike today, there still was plenty of space in the cable networks back then. While it is probable that every effort will be made to keep NBC Europe's cable channel, it is rather uncertain whether the channel will continue analogue satellite distribution.
It is much more likely that the "German" NBC will become part of a digital bouquet even though the CNBC/EBN merger left an extra satellite transponder for NBC in Europe which is currently unused. It's also unknown whether the National Geographic Channel will be available for free as NBC Europe was. In the UK, it's part of the Sky Multichannels pay-TV package. And after all, the whole operation is probably to save NBC money. Analogue satellite transponder leases in Europe are a cost factor that is not to be underestimated (up to US$6 million p.a., maybe even a world record.)
NBC Asia will maintain an office in Hong Kong for regional distribution and business development but will reduce its staff by approximately 75 employees. NBC News and CNBC Asia will continue to maintain their bureaux in Hong Kong. National Geographic Asia will be headquartered in Singapore. NBC Europe is in the process of determining the impact of these changes in terms of staff.
In the U.K., Australia and Scandinavia, the National Geographic Channel is half owned by News Corporation's BSkyB, with the remaining 50 percent owned by the NBC/National Geographic joint venture. The new European expanded service will have the same ownership. The National Geographic Channel in Asia will be owned equally by NBC and National Geographic Television.
National Geographic Channel Worldwide, a business enterprise formed by NBC and NGT, launched September 1, 1997, in the U.K., Australia, and the Republic of Ireland, and later in the month in Scandinavia and Finland. NGCW represents National Geographic's first branded television channels.
"Headquartered in London, NBC Europe is a general entertainment service. It provides quality NBC entertainment programming such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Their schedule also includes programming from MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Super Sports, and European sources. ...
"Headquartered in Hong Kong, like NBC Europe, NBC Asia's programming is a mix of NBC Entertainment, MSNBC, CNBC, and original European and Asian programming."
(From NBC's Web Site at http://www.nbc.com/)
What do we learn from this ;-)
Just like its predecessor Super Channel NBC had to learn it the hard way: there is no such thing as Pan-European TV (and probably no Pan-Asian TV as well.) Apart from the well-known problems such as different languages and different mentalities, one of the main obstacles ironically is the U.S. entertainment industry. They usually sell broadcasting rights country by country, making it almost impossible for Pan-European channels to offer attractive U.S. programming.
Generally, U.S. networks and channels have over the past decades been very careful with investments in Europe -- most of them recognised that they need local partners. But even that wasn't enough, as the ill-fated European versions of The Weather Channel demonstrated. Among the other U.S. channels which left Europe this year are Country Music Television and The Children's Channel (except for the Nordic countries.)
European politicians should also let this be a lesson to them. For decades, one of their favourite arguments in the television sector has been "If we don't do [or don't allow, or don't license] it, the Americans will do it."
Those antediluvian anti-American arguments can now safely be consigned to the dustbin of history.
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Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that eight new Orbcomm data communications satellites built and launched by the company in December 1997, together with two additional Orbcomm satellites launched in February 1998, have completed the company's in-orbit testing process and have been transferred to Orbital's Orbcomm Global, L.P. affiliate.
Orbcomm Global has begun to place these satellites in commercial service, adding to the satellites already in use in its global data and messaging communications network.
The company also announced that it plans to launch two more groups of eight Orbcomm satellites each on its next two Pegasus rocket launches, scheduled over the coming three months. When added to the existing 12 Orbcomm satellites now in orbit, these 16 additional satellites will complete Orbcomm's global 28-satellite basic space network.
In addition, Orbital and Orbcomm Global plan to launch eight more Orbcomm satellites in mid-1999 to enhance the network's capacity and coverage in the equatorial regions of the globe. Orbcomm is licensed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to operate up to 48 low-orbit data communications satellites, enabling it to provide affordable monitoring, tracking and messaging services.
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TRW Inc. has delivered the first of two spacecraft comprising the Korean Multipurpose Satellite (Kompsat) programme to the Republic of Korea's space agency, the South Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).
The spacecraft is a flight-worthy protoflight model which was assembled, integrated and tested at TRW's Redondo Beach manufacturing facilities to verify the structural and functional design of the satellite. TRW also trained engineers from KARI in spacecraft development and worked with Korean industrial partners to build and test space-qualified hardware.
The Kompsat flight model will be assembled, integrated and tested at KARI facilities by Korean engineers with support from TRW. Plans call for it to be launched next year into a low-Earth-orbit by a Taurus booster from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
In 1995, TRW was awarded a 52-month contract to build two satellites based on TRW's modular, lightweight satellite bus technology. The satellites host scientific payloads for ocean colour imaging, multi-spectral sensing and space physics measurements.
The flight model also includes an electro-optical camera with seven-meter resolution built by TRW. The camera will provide cartography data for developing digital elevation maps of the Korean peninsula for land use and planning purposes.
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Finally, I found a press release that sheds some light on recent developments at Polish digital pay-TV. [Phew! Just don't trust news agencies; those idiots usually screw it all up.] The bottom line is that Wizja TV and Canal+ Polska will launch a joint digital service called Wizja+ next September. The launch of Wizja TV's own digital package was therefore scrapped.
@Entertainment, Inc. and Telewizyna Korporacja Partycypacyjna ("TKP"), the parent company of Canal+ Polska, announced that they had signed a binding letter of intent bringing together @Entertainment's Wizja TV programming service and the Canal+ Polska premium pay-television channel, and providing for the joint development and operation of a digital direct-to-home (DTH) television service for the Polish market. The proposed transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.
At closing of the deal, the ownership of TKP, which will own the new digital platform and Canal+ Polska, will be
40% DTC Productions SpZoo, a Polish subsidiary of @Entertainment;
40% Canal + SA;
The new digital platform will be open to other Polish investors.
@Entertainment will retain 100% interest in its Poland Communications, Inc. (PCI) subsidiary, which operates its cable networks in Poland.
Pursuant to this agreement, @Entertainment has postponed the launch of Wizja TV originally slated for April 18. Both parties have agreed to reschedule the launch of this service for September 1998 under the Wizja+ brand name. The channel line-up of Wizja+ will consist of a diversified choice of high quality Polish and international channels, broadcast in the Polish language, and include three multiplexed versions of Canal+ Polska.
@Entertainment is the developer of both the Wizja TV programming and DTH service. Through its PCI subsidiary, the company owns and operates the largest cable television network in Poland with 800,192 subscribers as of February 28, 1998.
Telewizyna Korporacja Partycypacyjna ("TKP") is the parent company of the Polish premium pay-TV channel Canal+ Polska. Canal+ Polska has 240,000 analogue subscribers.
Agora is the controlling company of one of the largest media groups in Poland with diversified interests in newspapers (Gazeta Wyborcza), radio and billboards.
Polcom is a Polish investment company headed by the well-known Polish producer Lew Rywin, who is also the Chairman of TKP.
Canal+ SA is Europe's largest pay-TV group with over 9.5 million subscribers and premium services in 13 countries.
Now we know.
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Loral Skynet announced that its recent digital satellite news gathering (DSNG) trials, held in collaboration with the ABC network and its affiliates, have been concluded successfully.
Loral Skynet's new DSNG package, to be available for full-time use in June, will use an open network standard that will enable broadcasters, affiliates and independent news providers to transmit up to 12 times more simultaneous feeds on a single transponder than has been possible previously using standard analogue transmissions.
Loral Skynet will make available a full-time digital satellite news gathering package beginning in June 1998. Loral Skynet's part-time DSNG service offering will be introduced in the fourth quarter of 1998. The digital services will begin on Loral Skynet's Telstar 5 satellite, and will be available subsequently through the Loral Global Alliance.
Loral Skynet operates Telstar 4 and the recently launched Telstar 5, which provides C-band and Ku-band coverage over the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Soon Loral Skynet's global booking system will expand to include capacity from Loral Orion (bridging Europe and North America) and Europe Star (bridging Europe, the Middle East, Southern Africa, India, and Asia).
Through the recent privatisation of Mexico's satellite operations, Loral, through Loral Skynet, also manages Satelites Mexicanos, S.A. de C.V. (SatMex). SatMex currently operates 3 satellites, Solidaridad 1, Solidaridad 2 and Morelos II. SatMex 5 (previously Morelos III), scheduled for launch in the fourth quarter of 1998, will replace Morelos II.
Loral Skynet's growth plan includes future launches of Telstar 6 and 7, which are expected to be in service in 1998 and 1999, respectively, and Telstar 8 and 9, to be in service shortly thereafter.
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Jorge Alvarez Hoth, director of the satellite television company Sky TV, announced that the company had 150,000 subscribers at the end of the first quarter.
That represented a penetration of 60% of the present market, said El Financiero. The company was aiming at 300,000 by the end of this year. Alvarez Hoth recognised that the potential Mexican 2.5 million households market was small in comparison to other countries, but the prospects for Sky and its sole competitor DirecTV were favourable.
Sky is an affiliate of Mexico's largest television broadcasting network Televisa, and DirecTV belongs to the major pay-TV network Multivision.
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Azerbaijan confirmed today it had shut down the US-funded information service Radio Liberty because it failed to obtain a license.
"The morning programme of Radio Liberty on Azerbaijani territory was stopped," communications ministry spokesman Mushfig Amirov was quoted as saying. "The reason for this was that they did not receive a license last night before midnight."
He added that the station would be permitted to go back on the air once they had filed the necessary documents and obtained a licence.
The head of Radio Liberty's Azerbaijani service in Prague, Mirza Khazar, quoted U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin as saying that the U.S. government had requested that the ban on broadcasts be lifted immediately. [Bullshit! Shutting down a pirate radio station is no ban. Who do these guys think they are? Do they think they have an implicit license to broadcast anywhere on Earth just because they're paid for by the U.S. government?]
An Azerbaijani opposition daily reported today that authorities would send letters of warning to other radio stations, including the BBC and Voice of America. A BBC representative reportedly said that they had so far received nothing.
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China Telecom (Hong Kong) will buy a 1.6 percent stake in U.S.-based Globalstar Telecommunications Ltd for just US$37.5 million.
Quite a bargain -- the stake is actually worth US$120 million now, but the price was according to Globalstar officials set at the start of negotiations two years ago. [Now these are really hard-boiled entrepreneurs.]
Globalstar forecast the number of subscribers in China would hit 200,000 by 2002. China has estimated the number of Mobile telephone users will be between 30 and 40 million in 2000, around triple the present figure.
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Andy Smith wonders whether
"anyone else spotted the switching error that happened on Sunday evening 19/4/98 on the Sci-Fi channel on Astra? At around 1905 GMT I was channel hopping terrestrial as well as satellite channels, and got a bit confused when I found that what I thought was the Sci-Fi channel was actually transmitting the same programme as our local UK ITV station, WestCountry TV!
"The feed on Sci-Fi was still Videocrypt encoded, and on removing my Sky card it scrambled and identified as 'Sci-Fi'. At around 1912 GMT the picture went to black, but the sound carried on. A minute or so later the Sci-Fi channel appeared, and the sound was restored.
"I know that on Friday 17th BT Teleport had a major failure of some sort with their equipment, and were unable to monitor satellite feeds for a while. Maybe this was a related problem?"
Any ideas out there in Sky-Land? [By the way: questions like this have far more chances to be answered by posting them to the appropriate newsgroups. Never mind.]
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Pete Birkett wants to know
"What has happened to the useless facts, have you run out?"
Yeah, more or less. But I've another smashin' idea. If every, and I mean EVERY reader sends me his or her favourite joke, I should have 1600+ jokes one of which will be presented in every issue of Sat-ND. Okay, let's subtract 10% doubles from that number and 40% with explicit sexual content (which I will not publish,) but even that leaves 800 jokes which should last for three years.
That's an offer you just can't refuse!
If you just can't decide what your favourite joke is, simply send the one that is the shortest and/or the silliest. Of course, it would be nice if those jokes would somewhat be related to the satellite and media bizniz, but that's by no means a condition. If your favourite joke is a lengthy one that has to do with anything but satellites, send it anyway!
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by Dr Sarmaz
Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch, 67, and his wife Anna, 53, are to separate after 31 years of marriage.
Gossip columnists, those of Mr Murdoch's own paper included, speculated that the split was owing to Mr Murdoch's business commitment and pointed out there was there was nobody else involved.
The Murdochs married in 1967 after meeting when Anna was a reporter on the Sydney Daily Mirror. News International staff confirmed the break up but provided no reasons.
As a devout Roman Catholic, Mrs Murdoch would however work hard to avoid a divorce, papers speculated. Mrs Murdoch in recent years became an author, writing novels featuring dynamic super-heroines. Mrs Murdoch, also described as a philanthropist, will remain on the News Corp. board and continue in the Murdoch businesses.
The couple's three children Elisabeth, James and Lachlan all have senior positions in the News Corporation empire.
* cf. The Beatles, 'Within You Without You':
We were talking about the love that's gone so cold
And the people who gain the world and lose their soul.
They don't know, they can't see. Are you one of them?
When you've seen beyond yourselves you may find peace of mind is waiting there,
And the time will come when you'll see we're all one,
And life flows on within you and without you.
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