Sweden Calling DXers #0228

NORDIC MEDIA NEWS:

TRAIN TV–Airlines are slowly upgrading the quality of their movie and video presentations, with the future promising screens on the back of each seat offering a variety of programs and computer games (even in Tourist Class). But now that trend is also coming to Swedish railroads, specifically the fast inter-city commuter lines known as X2000.

Swedish National Railways launched the pilot project of Train Television in October, the first such digital broadcasts in the world to mobile receivers. The video transmissions are carried over a digital radio (yes) DAB channel, at 980 kbps. That provides good enough quality for the 4 inch personal TV screens attached to seat armrests that X2000 travellers on the Uppsala- Stockholm line will have for the next year. The system is called DAB/DMB (“digital mobile broadcast”), and besides the video channel includes the local radio station, Radio Uppland.

Reporter Kara Killen took a ride with the railway’s Production Manager, Richard Wiking, to find out more about “Train TV”, and you can hear her report in today’s edition of “MediaScan”.

ESLÖV–A few days later I took an X2000 ride, unfortunately on one of the lines not included in the TV pilot project, to the small southern Swedish town of Eslöv. For a month the Eslöv City Library hosted an exhibition put on by Swedish Radio, the country’s public service radio broadcaster.

I was shown around by Christina Ruhnbro, who set up the exhibition, and our conversation is also in today’s program. Highpoints included a control board used to record a then-unknown British pop band in 1963, described in the paperwork as “The Beatless”. (The Fab Four’s signatures also grace the same page.) Next to two crystal receivers from the early 20’s was one of the few DAB receivers in Sweden. Many old receivers were loaned to the exhibition by local residents, and there were also many microphones and recording instruments from across the decades. There were a number of live broadcasts from the library during the exhibition month. The exhibition will be visiting other parts of Sweden in future months.

CANAL PLUS–Correcting the report last time, the 22 retailers reported having stopped selling subscriptions and the packages listed as Canal Digital, actually both concerned the analog Canal PLUS service. (“SatNytt”)

SIRIUS–Because of a transponder failure Sweden’s Kanal 5 was forced to leave Tele-X 12.476 GHz and switch to 12.207 GHz. But when Sirius-2 began transmissions after only 8.5 days in space (possibly a world record!) Kanal 5 resumed transmissions in clear PAL on 12.476 GHz on the new satellite. But there may be interruptions for the next few weeks. Signals from several other transponders on Sirius-2 have been reported to “SATCO DX”, but no other actual channels. (“SATCO”)

Swedish Television’s SVT Europe is to start transmissions on 12.380 GHz (in MPEG-2 — SR 27500, FEC 3/4, encoded in Viacess) on December 10 (the day the Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm and Oslo).

(“SatNytt” and Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

NSAB chairman Klas Änggård told “Space News” right after the launch that around 90 percent of Sirius-2 capacity was already booked. Tele-X will be removed from service as soon as Sirius-2 is fully checked out in orbit. Sirius-1 will remain in service until early 2000, but it will have to be moved in August 1998 to make room for Sirius-3. Sirius-1 will either be used by NSAB at another orbital slot or will be leased to someone else. (“Space News”)

TELE-X–The Danish sports channel TBS has left Tele-X 12.637 GHz. The station continues on 11.389 GHz from 1 degree West. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

INTELSAT–Estonia’s TV1 has started on Intelsat 707 on 11.014 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“SATCO”)

TELIA–Telia’s digital cable package (which we reported on last time) includes the following new channels (for Telia): Animal Planet, Knowledge TV, Muzzik, Nickelodeon, Sky Entertainment, Sky News and National Geographic, Sky News, TV8, and VH-1. After January 1st, TRT International, TV Polonia, and MBC will also be included. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

Telia has chosen Open TV to provide its hardware and platform- independent software to provide the new digital network with home shopping, several PPV channels, six games, an electronic program guide, and Web access. This marks the world’s first WWW access via television enabled digital set-top boxes. (“Business Wire”)

SWEDEN–Leif Furuhammar, who has carried out a study for the Swedish government, has proposed a new state-support of around 10 million dollars for short films and documentaries for TV. The money is to come from the licence fees paid by commercial broadcaster TV4. Furuhammar suggests that a new state agency to award the grants be created, and that free production companies can apply for the grants, provided they can demonstrate that a terrestrial or satellite channel plans to carry the programming. This follows the government’s decision two weeks ago to give extra funds to public broadcasting. TV4 would rather have its licence fee reduced. (TT)

Meanwhile, another study is to be carried out by the chairman of the Young Social Democrats, Niklas Nordström, into new rules for commercial radio. The major guideline laid down by the government is that there are to be no more auctions to the highest bidder for radio licences (the system that has led to virtually every one of Sweden’s private radio stations playing either the latest pop or oldies round- the-clock). The new rules will cover both FM and the coming new DAB radio stations. Nordström has until December 1, 1998 to present his report. (TT)

EUROPE

ASTRA–Germany’s SWF 3 is to use two transponders, 57 and 61, and will eventually split these into two regional services.

Transponder 48 will become Bildungskanal on January 1, with transponder 32 for the moment remaining as Astra Video.

Germany’s ORB (Ostdeutscher Rundfunk Brandenburg) began full service on transponder 30 in clear PAL on December 1. There are 5 ADR radio channels on the subcarriers:

6.12 MHz: Antenna Brandenburg
6.30 MHz: ORB Radio 1
6.48 MHz: ORB Fritz
6.66 MHz: Radio Kultur
6.84 MHz: ORB Radio 3

(James Robinson and “SATCO”)

Phoenix is expected to leave transponder 61 and continue on transponder 36. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

EUTELSAT–Radio Netherlands Wereldomroep TV has left Astra (to make room for Sky Box Office) and is now on Hot Bird 1, on 11.284 GHz, at 18:00-23:00 hrs every night in clear PAL. Radio Netherlands Europe is on 7.38 and Radio Netherlands International is on 7.56 MHz. (James Robinson and “SATCO”)

Canal 24 Horas has now switched to Hot Bird 3 on 11.785 GHz. The radio stations RNE Radio 1, RNE Radio 3, RNE Radio 5, Todo Noticias, and RNE Radio Classica are also on this transponder. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

TDF-2 is in operation at the Eutelsat position at 36 degrees East. Russia’s NTV and Detskij Mir (The Children’s World) are testing on 11.881 GHz in Syster-encoded Secam, sound 6.80 MHz, at around 10:00- 15:00 hrs Moscow time. (“SATCO DX”)

Eutelsat has successfully completed a series of tests using its digital voice telephony and data network for links for digital television programs and multimedia services. The new data network uses TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) techniques, and connects 22 European countries via a network of 18 Earth stations. Television broadcasters and multimedia service providers can use the network to transport programs in MPEG-2 from any point in Europe to a DVB platform. It can also be used for backhauling programs around Europe. (Eutelsat)

INTELSAT–Russia’s NTV and Detskij Mir (The Children’s World) have started on Intelsat 604 (60 degrees East) on 11.515 GHz, in clear MPEG- 2. (“SATCO DX”)

EURONEWS–Britain’s Independent Television News says it is taking control of Euronews, becoming the first British broadcaster to take part in the European venture. ITN, the sole bidder in the deal, says it has paid 8.5 million dollars to buy the 49 percent stake in Euronews held by France’s Alcatel. It marks the first time that ITN, which supplies news shows to Britain’s ITV commercial network, as well as to Channel 4 and to Channel 5, will operate a TV news channel. Euronews is a multilingual channel, with no onscreen announcers. It is carried by cable and satellite to 90 million homes across Europe and parts of the Middle East. (Reuters)

CANAL SATELLITE–Canal Plus says that Time Warner will buy a 10 percent stake in its DTH digital service CanalSatellite. (Bloomberg)

GERMANY–In its efforts to preserve competition, the European Commission may be about to kill off digital television in Germany. Kirch and Bertelsmann have confirmed that the Commission has provisionally blocked their planned digital TV alliance. In statements, both German media groups say the Commission has asked them to cease the joint marketing of their D-Box decoder system. The deal would have united Bertelsmann’s Premiere and Kirch’s DF-1.

German public broadcaster ARD says it will carefully weigh the fall-out from the Commission’s decision. ARD agreed with Kirch and Bertelsmann, along with cable operator Deutsche Telekom, at the beginning of November to use the D-Box, putting aside months of disagreement on the technical standard for the decoder. (Reuters)

AFRICA/MIDDLE EAST

QATAR–Al Jazeera Satellite Channel has started on Arabsat 2A on 4.120 GHz in PAL. (“SATCO”)

ARABSAT–The Arabsat Consortium says it has sold its aging Arabsat 1C satellite to India for 40 million dollars. Arabsat 1C, was launched in early 1992, and has enough fuel left for 5 more years of operation. The final handover of the satellite must be by January, 1998. India’s Insat 2D satellite, launched in July, failed on October 4. (Reuters and Curt Swinehart)

ASIA/PACIFIC

INDIA–Gujarat TV has started on Palapa C2 in clear PAL on 3.800 GHz, at 02:30-16:30 hrs. (“SATCO DX”)

THAILAND–The TV5 Global Network has started on Thaicom 3 on 3.600 GHz in NTSC. (“SATCO”)

JAPAN–Hughes’ DirecTV Japan launched on December 1. Initially it carries 63 channels, which will expand to 90 in coming weeks. The company plans to apply for permission from the Japanese government in February or March 1998 to relay more channels. DirecTV will compete with the 100 channel service from PerfecTV that began in October 1996, and Rupert Murdoch’s 100 channel Japan Sky Broadcasting, set to start this Spring. PerfecTV and JSkyB recently announced an agreement to share an antenna and decoder system, allowing viewers to subscribe to either or both of their services with the same equipment. (Reuters)

NORTH AMERICA

USA–The Federal Communications Commission has approved non-U.S. licensed satellites to provide services in the United States. The decision will promote competition in the U.S. satellite services market, which the FCC says will provide significant benefits for U.S. consumers in the form of lower prices, improved service quality, and innovative service options. The Commission expects that new satellite service providers will begin to offer service in the United States early in 1998.

The Commission’s actions largely replace the existing procedures for reviewing requests for market access from non-U.S. licensed satellite service providers. In a press statement, the FCC says the steps taken underscore the U.S. leadership role in the development and deployment of satellite services. In early 1996 the Commission eliminated the regulatory distinction between domestic and international satellite services. The FCC says the impact of that decision was to allow U.S. satellite systems to provide domestic or international service, or both, subject to authorization from foreign administrators. (FCC)

CANADA–The Federal Court of Appeal, which ranks second only to the Supreme Court of Canada, with cross-country jurisdiction, has upheld a ruling that it is illegal to import and sell U.S. DTH satellite dishes as well as the unauthorized U.S. programming received and decoded by the dishes, anywhere in Canada.

The original ruling was issued in a landmark decision last June 27 in the Federal Court of Canada, and was then appealed by Norsat, a British Columbia-based company, one of the seven original defendants in the case, all of which handled sales of the illegal pizza-sized U.S. dishes to Canadian consumers. There were four plaintiffs in the case — Allarcom Pay Television Ltd., the Family Channel, TMN Networks Inc., and ExpressVu, a major Canadian DTH company which launched a few months ago. (“Canada Newswire”)

LATIN AMERICA

GALAXY–Forty more channels have been added to the DirecTV Latin America package for Brazil.

(“SATCO”)

LAUNCHES

ASTRA–There are two major launches TONIGHT. Astra 1G is being launched on a Russian Proton rocket during a 10 minute launch window starting at 23:10 hrs UTC. There will be coverage in North America on Galaxy 3R on 4.120 GHz (transponder 21), and in Europe on Intelsat-K and on Astra 1C on 11.068 GHz (transponder 40, presumably in PAL) and Astra 15 on 12.168 GHz (transponder 88, presumably in MPEG-2). (“SATCO DX” and Curt Swinehart)

The satellite is to be placed alongside the other Astra satellites at 19 degrees East. There are 16 transponders on 1G (all destined for digital transmissions):

Tp 105: 12.51525 GHz H
Tp 106: 12.52200 GHz V
Tp 107: 12.54475 GHz H
Tp 108: 12.55150 GHz V
Tp 109: 12.57425 GHz H
Tp 110: 12.58100 GHz V
Tp 111: 12.60375 GHz H
Tp 112: 12.61050 GHz V
Tp 113: 12.63325 GHz H
Tp 114: 12.64000 GHz V
Tp 115: 12.66275 GHz H
Tp 116: 12.66950 GHz V
Tp 117: 12.69225 GHz H
Tp 118: 12.69900 GHz V
Tp 119: 12.72175 GHz H
Tp 120: 12.72850 GHz V

(James Robinson)

ARIANE–Minutes before the Proton launch (or just after) Ariane flight 103 is scheduled to carry the Japanese TV satellite JCSAT-4 and the German scientific satellite Equator-S into orbit. The launch windows are: 22:36-23:01 and 00:42-01:29 hrs. Coverage of flight 103 will be to North America on Galaxy 6 on 4.180 GHz (transponder 24) and to Europe on Telecom 2B on 3.768 GHz.

JCSAT will be placed at 150 degrees East. (“SATCO DX” and Curt Swinehart)

CYBERSPACE

MLE–Mark Long’s MLESat (originators of the “Satellite Almanac” has introduced a new satellite reference for the Asia/Pacific regional called the Asia/Pacific Satellites on Disk Library.

(Michael Murray)

KLINGENFUSS–Klingenfuss Publications announces the publication of five new products:

  • 1998 Shortwave Frequency Guide
  • 1998 Super Frequency List on CD-ROM
  • 1998 Guide to Utility Radio Stations
  • Digital Data Decoder Screenshots
  • 1998 ARRL Handbook on CD-ROM

The new 1998 Shortwave Frequency Guide is published and distributed in Europe within a few days after the final 1998 broadcast schedules were notified not before mid-November.

The 1998 Super Frequency List on CD-ROM – in its 4th edition – now features software interfaces for leading receiver control programs, plus digital data decoder shareware. The new edition now comprises about 38,000 entries with all clandestine, domestic and international broadcast stations worldwide, plus all utility and formerly active radio stations as well.

The 1998 Guide to Utility Radio Stations (16th edition) is the international standard reference book for professional radio monitoring services and interested radio amateurs and shortwave listeners alike. It now includes dozens of sample screenshots of digital data transmissions and state-of-the-art equipment as well.

AUSTRALASIAN SHORTWAVE GUIDE–The third edition of the Australasian Shortwave Guide, covering the Winter Transmission season (W97), will be ready for mailing on 8 December. This is the “authoritative, accurate and unique shortwave guide” to broadcasts in English and other languages targeted to Australia and New Zealand, and English transmissions beamed to South Asia, the Far East, and the Indian sub- continent. Over 600 entries with frequencies, transmission times and days, languages, target areas, relay transmitter sites and other information. The data is presented in dual format: by country and UTC time.

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