NORDIC MEDIA NEWS
We received an e-mail recently from Bruce Feller in the United States, wondering what had become of the proposed cable TV Scandinavian Channel? Well, as luck would have it, the channel was belatedly, and officially, launched last Friday, by the head of Swedish public service broadcaster SVT, Sam Nilsson, at its headquarters in Denver. Actually, that just marked the start of the uplink to the Galaxy 7 satellite. Cable operators will have a couple of weeks now to look at the programming and decide whether they want to include the Scandinavian Channel in their offerings before the cable launch on October 15th.
There was an American cable project called the Scandianvian Channel around ten years ago. It consisted of an hour a month infomercial from each of the Nordic countries, broadcast as a weekly program on an existing cable channel in the US. The programs were of uneven quality and the project didn’t survive very long.
Today’s edition of MediaScan is about Scandinavian Channel, and includes an interview with Katarina af Klintberg, project manager for pay-television at SVT.
Picking up on the question in last week’s program, TV4 will be moving its analog transmissions soon from Sirius 2 to Sirius 4 . No decision has been yet as to digital satellite broadcasts. (Helena Dyrssen, head of information for TV4, via Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
At the cost of betraying my ignorance, I’ve never heard of a Sirius 4 satellite, and can’t find it among the current or upcoming satellites in the Lyngemark Satellite Chart.
Worship Network has joined the Christian Channel Europe on Sirius 2 on 12.349 GHz, in MPEG-2. (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart Headlines”)
Discovery Sci-Tek and Discovery Civilisation have begun on Sirius 2 with both channels in MPEG-2 on both 12.418 and 12.453 GHz. (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart Headlines” and “Sat-Europa”)
On September 23 Telia and Telenor finally finished the negotiations aimed at making their merger acceptable to the European Commission. The agreement means that Telia will spin off its cable-TV network, the largest in Sweden, with 1.3 million households. Since Telia is also the former public telephone company in Sweden, consumers will finally have some competition between cable and telephone operators.
The speculation is that a foreign investor will buy the cable company, and Microsoft is among those mentioned. (“Computer Sweden”)
Swedes, who’ve never heard of Telenor before, have seemed to regard it as a little brother, similar to Telia, but smaller. The press here has yet to discover that the merger brings with it Europe’s third largest satellite operator (after Eutelsat and Astra), as well as a large chunk the new Scandinavian Channel in the US.
Meanwhile, Telenor is using its Thor 3 (1 degree West) satellite to relay Russia’s ORT to all of Europe, outside of the Iberian peninsula. The new channel, called ORT International, is part of the MPEG-2 Canal Digital package, with sole use of the transponder on 12.322 GHz. (TT and “Lyngemark Satellite Chart”)
On September 30 Teracom announced the start in Sweden of interactive digital TV, via its terrestrial DTT network (which virtually no one can watch since the decoders still seem to be unavailable) and Active-TV in Linkoeping. A sign of things to come (?) the interactivity took the form of a Volvo commercial, giving the viewer the chance to send a message back to a car dealer, or order more information about the car. (Teracom)
There may be a new language joining our domestic broadcasts to groups with foreign backgrounds in Sweden. There are plans to start a once a week news bulletin in Somali.
The BBC has announced a new schedule for its global news and information channel BBC World. The new format, which will take effect from April, 2000, will be built around half hour news bulletins, around the clock. (“Ariel” via Richard Buckby) Hopefully this means the end of the feature programming that currently breaks up the flow of news between 30 and 60 minutes past each hour.
BBC ONE – MURDOCH NIL
European Union regulators have ruled that public funding for the British Broadcasting Corporation’s 24 hour television news channel does not breach EU rules on government subsidies. In approving state funding for BBC News 24, the European Commission rejected a complaint from the channel’s main competitor, Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News. (AP)
Not long after failing to buy Manchester United, Rupert Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting has purchased a 9 percent stake in the owners of Leeds United. If approved by the club’s shareholders, Sky would become the club’s media agent. The European competition authorities are investigating the deal. (“What Satellite TV” and “Sat-Europa”)
Meanwhile, the European Commission is examining the TV deal between BSkyB, the BBC, and Britain’s Premier League. (Origo’s “Digital TV News”)
Truth can be stranger than fiction….While Sky Digital and rival ONdigital continue to fight it out over sports rights, and which events will be carried on channels on each others’ platforms, Rupert Murdoch has made an end run of sorts, and put the UEFA Champions League in the clear, on his German analog channel TM3. This follows ONdigital putting the Champions League on its own new sports channel, free to anyone with a decoder, while refusing to share with Sky. (“What Satellite TV” and “Sat-Europa”) Rupert Murdoch strikes a blow to encourage traditionally language-poor Brits to practise their German?
Pakistan TV and Bangla TV are the first Urdu and Bengali language channels respectively in Britain. They launched on Sky Digital, sharing transponder 14 (11.973 GHz), each for 12 hours a day. (“What Satellite TV” and (“LyngSat Updates”)
Zee TV, which also features programs from South Asia, has started on 12.129 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. Zee music has started on 11.973 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Updates”) (Also see “Murdoch” under Asia/Pacific below.)
The Inspiration Channel and the Welsh S4C2 (with programs from the Welsh Assembly) have joined Sky Digital on Astra 2A on 12.129 GHz. (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart Headlines”)
British pop star and actor turned investment
commentator Adam Faith announced October 4 his Money Channel has secured a
broadcasting deal with BSkyB. The Money Channel also says it is in discussion
with British and international cable operators. Twenty-four hour a day
programming is due to start on February 7, 2000. The goal is to carry
consumer-oriented financial programs, with mass appeal to all age groups, with
complementary interactive services. (Reuters)
Eutelsat is readying 7 degrees East as its second major European “Hot Bird” position, where it will offer rates at less than one-third the prices offered by its competitors. The company’s first step will be transmit a package of at least 8, and possibly 16, free-to-air digital channels via a transponder that could be functioning within 30 days. (Curt Swinehart)
Europe’s first Afro-centric channel is broadcasting in the clear from Hot Bird 3. Africa Independent Television is broadcasting on 12.111 GHz in MPEG-2 for 12 hours a day, with news, drama, documentarites, and children’s programs from Africa, the Caribbean, and other areas with populations with an African background. AIT says there are plans to launch on Astra 2 for Sky Digital viewers. (“What Satellite TV”)
WRN3 and RCI have closed down on Hot Bird 3, 12.476 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”) The German-language WRN3 continues on Astra 1B, transponder 27 (MTV-German, 11.612 GHz), sound 7.38 MHz.
Georgian TV is now on Eutelsat W2 (16 degrees East), as part of the British Telecom MPEG-2 transponder on 11.304 GHz. Having replaced Oman TV there, CNBC Europe has now left Eutelsat W3, while NBC Europe is back on Kopernikus 2 (in MPEG-2 on 11.667 GHz). (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart Headlines”)
United Nations “Blue Sky” public radio went on the air in Kosovo on October 1, with a 24 hour mix of news, music, and features. The frequency is 96 MHz FM, and programming is in Albanian and Serbian. There are plans to add programs in minority languages and English lessons. Blue Sky is operated by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, with financial support from the government of Switzerland. (“satelitv”)
DF-1 and Premiere have merged into Premier World. They are broadcasting over the following MPEG-2 transponders on Astra 1E and 1H: 11.720, 11.758, 11.798, 12.032, 12.070, 12.090, 12.148, and 12.480 GHz. (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart Headlines”)
Meanwhile the German public service digital packages have moved on Astra 1G. The ZDF Vision package has shifted from 12.663 to 11.954 GHz, while the ARD Digital package has transferred from 12.604 to 11.836 GHz, both in clear MPEG-2. Phoenix has started on 11.836 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Sicilia International has started on Hot Bird 5 on 12.520 GHz, and on Thor 3 on 12.399 GHz, both in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Dubai Sports Channel has started on Nilesat 101 (7 degrees West) on 11.881 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Animal Planet, and versions of the Discovery Channel directed to different Asian and Pacific nations, are now on PAS-8 (166 degrees East) on 3.900 GHz, sharing an MPEG-2 transponder. (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart Headlines”)
MTV Chinese has begun on PAS-2 (169 degrees East)
on 12.605 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is better positioned to operate in India now that it has swapped its Indian joint venture interests for cash, and a 7.5 percent in its existing partner, Zee Telefilms. The move will eliminate obstacles Murdoch has had operating as a non-Indian player, and instead gives his Asian subsidiary Star-TV an insider’s ticket. The joint ventures involved include Zee TV, Zee News, Zee Cinema,and Siticable. The deal is subject to the approval of Zee Telefilm’s shareholders and regulatory authorities. (Reuters)
The National Basketball Association announced on September 24 that it is launching its own full-time television network. League officials say NBA.com TV will not broadcast full games live, but is intended to give hardcore basketball fans a flurry of scores and information, while directing them to where they can see the games themselves. NBA.com TV will begin broadcasting on November 2 via satellite television provider DirecTV and digital cable provider Viewers Choice. The NBA is currently in the middle of four year broadcast deals with Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting, and General Electric’s NBC. (Reuters)
Europe’s Canal Plus has set up Canal Plus US, with its technological office in Cupertino in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, and permanent headquarters in New York City. They will co-ordinate marketing of MediaHighway, Canal Plus’ broadband interactive television “middleware” and the MediaGuard conditional access system. Middleware acts as a bridge between the system hardware and the operating system to manage applications such as high-speed Internet access, interactive advertising, e-commerce, electronic program guides, pay-per-view, and enhanced program information. So far, Canal Plus has carved out 65 percent of the digital middleware market in Europe. (Karen Brown in “Cable World”)
Gemstar International, maker of electronic guides for television, and Rupert Murdoch’s “TV Guide” have agreed on a merger that positions the one-time rivals for growth in new forms of electronic advertising and commerce. Industry experts see program guides as a potential tool to navigate numerous channels, commercials, and electronic commerce sites in the future world of digital TV, much like a browser or portal helps computer users surf the Internet. (Reuters)
“TV Guide” has announced that it is launching a Spanish-language insert to focus on Hispanic programming. The insert, to be called “TV Guide en Espanol”, will be included with TV Guide in the 15 largest Hispanic markets in the United States, starting on October 25. (Reuters)
On September 23, Echostar 5 was carried into orbit on an Atlas rocket. Positioned at 110 degrees West, it carries 32 DBS transponders. (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart”)
On September 25, Western Europe’s Ariane rocket put the American Telstar 7 satellite into orbit. The satellite, which will be positioned at 129 degrees West, carries 24 Ku-band and 24 C-band transponders. It was originally scheduled to launch with Atlas, but switched to Ariane when Atlas launches were halted because of technical problems. (AP, Reuters and “Lyngemark Satellite Chart”)
On September 26, a Russian Proton rocket carried the LMI-1 satellite into orbit. Positioned at 75 degrees East, it carries 16 Ku-band transponders in the 12.50-12.75 GHz range and 28 C-band transponders in the 3.4-4.0 GHz range. (AP and “Lyngemark Satellite Chart”)
The first commercial liftoff for the floating platform Sea Launch, south of Hawaii, will be October 10. A Russian-made rocket is to carry a new satellite for Hughes’ DirecTV system, DirecTV 1R. This satellite carries 16 Ku-band transponders, and will replace DBS 1 at 101 degrees West. Partners in Sea Launch include Boeing, Norwegian shipbuilder Kvaerner Maritime, Russia’s RSC Energia, and Ukrainian rocket maker KB Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash. (AP and “Lygemark Satellite Chart”)
Eutelsat W1R will be launched by Ariane in the fourth quarter of 2000. (“satelitv”)
Eutelsat has announced that it will include Ka-band and Skyplex playloads on the Hot Bird 6 satellite, due to launch to 13 degrees East sometime after the last quarter of 2001. Skyplex capacity will be available on seven units in 2 to 6 Mbps slots with up to 18 carriers per transponder. There will be 28 Ku-band transponders covering the entire European continent, North Africa, and the Middle East. (“satelitv”)
Future Ariane launches include:
October 19 Orion 2
November 13 GE-4
December 22 Galaxy 11
Last week the Swedish government once again broadcast a press conference live over the Internet, with both audio and video. (This involved the Finance Minister announcing the Auditor General had not been fired, but had requested losing her job.) According to the newspaper “Östgöta Correspondenten” the government broke the law by failing to notify the Broadcasting Authority before broadcasting over the Internet.
On the other hand, this means the government is in the company of political parties, major companies, and the Church of Sweden in failing to file the proper notification. (While permission is not required for webcasting here, apparently the authorities have to be formally notified first.) (TT)