TELE-satellit News - 14 April 1996

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International Satellite Broadcasting News
Number 96, Week ending 14 April 1996
By Martyn Williams
News Desk : Internet martyn@twics.com  or CompuServe CIS:martynw
(c) TELE-satellit Magazine

  BAIKNOUR, Kazakstan (TS) -- Russia's Proton rocket entered 
commercial service last week with the successful launch of the 
Astra-1F satellite for Europe's Societe Europeenne des Satellites. 
Proton now takes top place as the most reliable commercial launcher.
  The rocket left the cosmodrome in Kazakstan at 2309 UTC last Monday, 
April 8th, and successfully delivered the Astra satellite into space. 
The launch had been delayed since March 28 because a leak was 
discovered in a propulsion system.
  Twenty such commercial launches are planned to take place before the 
turn of the century and are being offered to satellite operators by 
International Launch Service, a Russian-American joint venture. The 
cost of the launch was put at $60 million by Russia's Itar-Tass news 
  Astra 1F is an HS 601 body-stabilized satellite, the fourth in a 
series ordered by SES from Hughes, and the sixth spacecraft in SES' 
Astra constellation.  Like the other Astra satellites, it will operate 
at 19.2 degrees East.
  Astra 1F carries 22 active, 82-watt Ku-band transponders, broadening 
SES' direct television and radio broadcasting selections for viewers 
across Europe.  Its solar panels generate 4,700 watts, making it one 
of the most powerful in the fleet.
  The four-stage Proton booster carried the satellite for more than 
six hours, all the way to geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometers above 
the equator.  Satellite controllers have contacted the spacecraft, and 
all systems are operating normally. After several weeks of in-orbit 
testing, Hughes will hand over the spacecraft to SES for operation.

  LONDON, England (TS) -- BBC World has closed its Arabic language 
news service with the loss of around 250 Arabic speaking journalists 
and producers. The service was closed after it was ousted from the pay 
TV package operated by Orbit.
  According to the BBC, the decision to end the contract wa mutually 
agreed by Orbit and the broadcasting corporation but tensions caused 
by BBC programes in the Arab world, and especially Saudi Arabia where 
Orbit is based, are thought to be the root of the problems. Orbit is 
run by Mawarid, a company owned by a cousin of King Fahd.
  The BBC recently aired a program discussing relationships between 
London and Riyadh after London expelled Saudi dissident Mohammed 
al-Masari. Previously it had angered Saudi Arabia with a documentary 
about a Saudi woman who was executed after being accused of adultery.
  Last month BBC news coverage of the explusion of dissident al-Masari 
was blacked out by Orbit.
  A BBC announcement read, "BBC Worldwide and Orbit Satellite 
Television are seeking an agreed settlement of outstanding matters 
between them as an integral part of the termination of the contract 
under which BBC Worldwide Television provides the BBC Arabic 
Television channel to the Orbit subscription network in the Middle 
East and North Africa.
   "Both parties wish to see the existing channel maintained until 
separation terms are agreed and to permit an orderly wind down of the 

  PARIS, France (TS) -- France's TF-1 state broadcaster has bought a 
25% stake in a new digital pay TV package to be launched in France 
soon. All of France's major domestic broadcasters are involved in the 
package including France 2, France 3, RTL and M6 although CLT, 
operators of the RTL channel, have yet to officially join.
  The group are planning to launch a bouquet of channels via a 
Eutlesat Hot Bird satellite in competition with a similar venture 
planned by Canal Plus, the Canal Satellite bouquet that will launch on 
April 27 on Astra.
  The two groups are understood to be discussing use of a common 
scrambling system, something that would save each group and viewers a 
lot of money, but no decision has been made yet.

  PARIS, France (TS) -- The Disney Channel is to shortly launch a 
French version and will follow a similar path to the one it took in 
the UK by teaming with an established pay TV package. The Disney 
Channel France will be carried on the soon to be launched Canal 
Satellite digital bouquet on Astra.
  Specifically developed for French families, The Disney Channel- 
France will be broadcast in French, offering a blend of 
originally-produced and acquired French and European programmes and 
Disney entertainment consistent with Disney Channels elsewhere.
  "The Disney Channel-France will be made for France, by French staff 
and feature original and acquired French and European programming as 
well as Disney programming," noted Pierre Sissmann, president, Walt 
Disney TV-International France.

  MUNICH, Germany (TS) -- German news weekly Der Spiegel says Thomas 
Kirch, son of media tycoon Leo Kirch, may cut his stake in private TV 
channel Pro-7 ahead of a stock exchange floatation next year. Kirch 
currently holds a 24.5 % stake in the channel and is intending to cut 
it to 9.9% according to the magazine.
  The move is seen as in response to planned media laws that are due 
to come into effect next year. Under the new laws, which have not been 
finalized yet, ownership of TV stations will be unlimited providing 
the total audience share of TV stations under ownership does not 
exceed 30%. Shares under 10% will not count.
  Thus, Thomas Kirch currently holds significant stakes in stations 
that account for 28% of total audience share and this will prevent any 
future major investment. By reducing his Pro-7 stake to 9.9%, the 
audience share of the TV station does not count towards Kirch's 30% 
quota and it is reduced to 15%.
  Kirch will now be free to launch digital pay TV package without fear 
of breaking the audience share restriction.

  AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands (SAT-ND) -- Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf 
is increasing its multimedia activities. It has now formed a 
joint-venture with TROS Televisie. They will work on TV guides, radio 
and television programmes and Internet services, both parties already 
owning several Internet service providers.
  TROS made it clear some time ago that they wanted to start a 
commercial television station. Last year, when Veronica left the 
public broadcasters, TROS thought of that step as well. The public 
broadcasters were then offered a five year contract to remain in the 
public system. Veronica declined the offer, but TROS hesitated and 
stayed on Nederland 2.
  TROS also was, together with Veronica, the most commercial 
broadcaster in the public system. This might sound strange, but the 
TROS created mass-productions with less content, albeit many viewers. 
Other broadcasters started to copy this commercialising, hence the 
name 'vertrossing'. The new joint-venture might be a step toward a 
commercial TROS.
  De Telegraaf now owns shares in SBS 6, Sport7, AT5 (Amsterdam), 
Radio de Amsterdammer, and OAM.(http://www.telegraaf.nl) (Jitse Groen 
via Sat-ND)

  HILVERSUM, The Netherlands (SAT-ND) -- Euro7 is going to court about 
Sport7's name. Euro7 thinks the name might be confusing, although I 
really don't see how one could mistake Euro7 with Sport7. The logos 
look a bit alike, though. Sport7, having problems to assemble just one 
channel, nevertheless havenIt given up their plans for a second one.
  The starting date still is unknown. Besides, they have almost no 
cable access. Only one contract has been closed, with NUON, but they 
have an interest in the new channel. The channel also has virtually no 
rights, except for some (sub)licenses for German, English, French 
soccer and one tennis-tournament, and no presenters as well (except 
for Postema). Some cable companies are talking about three test 
months, followed by a viewers' referendum whether they want the 
channel or not. (Jitse Groen via Sat-ND)

  CASABLANCA, Morocco (TS) -- Troubled pay TV broadcaster 2M may be 
bought by the government according to Reuter. The news agency reports 
the country's only private television station is facing growing losses 
as viewers turn away from its programming in favor of satellite 
channels from other Arab nations.
  The station is partly owned by France's TF-1 which holds a 8% stake 
and Videotron which holds 6%. The largest stake, 55%, is held by 
Morocco's biggest private company ONA Group.
  Other problems facing the broadcaster have been high subscription 
charges and a large number of pirate TV decoders on sale in the 

  BELGRADE, Yugoslava (TS) -- A new Yugoslav TV channel has announced 
plans to start broadcasting this summer. The start of Jugoslovenska 
Radio Televizija (JRT) was announced by Ljubi{a Risti}, a famous 
Yugoslav theatre director. The channel will be based in Belgrade and 
will broadcast general entertainment programs as well as objective and 
up-to-date news. JRT will start broadcasting on the 1st of July, via 
terrestrial transmitters as well as via satellite.
  Initially, the channel will broadcast 8 hours daily, but the program 
will later extended to 24 hours. The terrestrial and satellite 
broadcasts will have different programs. A new radio station will also 
be broadcast on the subcarriers of the TV channel.
  A consortium for financing the new channel has been formed. JRT 
plans to broadcast via a EUTELSAT II series satellite, allegedly 
taking up a transponder that was reserved in 1991. by the now defunct 
Yugoslav channel YUTEL. (Branislav Pekic, SATELIT TV VIDEO - editor, 

  AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands (SAT-ND) -- Eurosport has closed a deal 
with the association of cable companies, Vecai, for the relay of 
Eurosport in the Netherlands. Eurosport used to be free, but will now 
ask for 25 cents a year. This may not be a clever move, since room on 
Dutch cable is scarce, and Sport7 will start broadcasting soon. 
Amsterdam and Gouda have already refused paying. Gouda has the 
broadest offer on cable in the Netherlands (40+ stations) and only 
asks less than 11 guilders a month. Not much room for extra payments.. 
(Jitse Groen via Sat-ND)

  OTTAWA, Canada (SHOPTALK) -- Union workers at the Canadian 
Broadcasting Company prepare for a April 22 strike vote.  7,000 
English-language union workers will be voting after bargaining talks 
with the CBC broke down at the end of March.  Should there be a 
strike, it will be the first strike at the CBC since 1989.

  LAS VEGAS, Nevada, U.S.A. (NBC) -- NBC and MCI announced last week 
the test of a new, high-speed data communications system that could 
change the way broadcasting companies feed reports to affiliates 
  The new system will connect 20 NBC affiliate stations via MCI 
HyperMedia service. NBC and MCI will jointly engineer, manage and 
operate the trial between all NBC affiliates and NBC News Channel in 
Charlotte, North Carolina; NBC Advertising and Promotions and NBC 
Affiliate Relations in New York and Burbank, California.
  NBC will provide news and promotional clips to the affiliates, who 
can then access the video-on-demand through servers based in MCI's 
network. Currently the clips are distributed via satellite and require 
schedule coordination and a constant monitoring of transmissions.
  The trial currently consists of a mix of urban, rural and suburban 
stations including all of NBC's affiliate stations in Texas, as well 
as affiliates in Medford, Oregon; Richmond, Virginia; Sacramento, 
California and Detroit, Michigan.  The system will use servers and 
workstations from Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics, Inc., 
encoding technology from Vela Research, software and systems 
integration from Digital Network Television (DNet), and networking 
equipment from Fore Systems and Cisco Systems.
  The NBC affiliates participating in the trial are KAMR (Amarillo, 
TX), KCBD (Lubbock, TX), KCEN (Temple, TX), KETK (Tyler, TX), KGNS 
(Laredo, TX), KJAC (Port Arthur, TX), KMOL (San Antonio, TX), KPRC 
(Houston, TX), KRBC (Abilene, TX), KRIS (Corpus Cristi, TX), KXAN 
(Austin, TX), KXAS (Fort Worth, TX), KFDX (Wichita Falls, TX), KVEO 
(Brownsville, TX), KWES (Midland, TX), KTSM (El Paso, TX), KCRA 
(Sacramento, CA), KOBI (Medford, OR), WWBT (Richmond, VA), and  WDIV 
(Detroit, MI).

  PRINCETON, New Jersey, U.S.A. (GE) -- GE American Communications (GE 
Americom) announced last week that Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. 
(TBS) will take a fourth transponder on GE Americom's GSTAR-4 Ku-band 
satellite. This transponder will carry Satellite News Gathering feeds 
for Cable News Network (CNN) and its affiliated stations.
  The agreement also calls for supplemental Single Channel Per Carrier 
(SCPC) service on a fifth transponder, which will carry digital video 
feeds to affiliate news directors.
  GE Americom is the nation's leading provider of Satellite News 
Gathering services, via the GE GSTAR 1, 2, 3 and 4 Ku-band satellites.
  The GE Americom domestic satellite fleet also includes three C-band 
satellites carrying prime cable neighborhoods:  SATCOM C-1, C-3 and 
C-4. These neighborhoods carry such programming as MTV, Nickelodeon, 
Showtime, A&E, and the SportsChannel regional sports programming 
services.  In addition, GE's Ku-band satellites, SATCOM K1 and K2, 
carry programming for the country's first operational DBS system, 
Primestar, as well as TV network programming for NBC.
  This year, GE Americom plans to launch its new hybrid satellite, 
GE-1, into the 103 degrees West orbital slot.  Through its GE Capital 
Satellites-Europe subsidiary, GE Americom also plans to expand service 
to all of Europe via Sirius 2, the Swedish satellite scheduled
for launch in 1997 to 5 degrees East.

  Now you can have your five minutes of fame on drdish@tv, Europe's 
first satellite information channel. drdish@tv is looking for news 
contributors from the Americas, Africa and the Far East, reporting 
about all aspects of satellite communications. You don't have to 
travel to Germany and appear in person, however - we'll call you 
during the show. If you are able to speak fluent English (or German) 
on the phone and have some knowledge of satellite communications, 
please contact drdish@westend.com. Should you produce similar 
programming for TV or radio, we would like to hear from you as well. 
drdish@tv is on the air every second and fourth Friday of a month for 
120 minutes live via DFS-2 (11.675 GHz h,) covering most of Europe. 
(Christian Mass)


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