History of Sweden Calling DXers

Sweden Calling DXers #2286


Congratulations are in order to space visionary Arthur C. Clarke, who
shortly after his 80th birthday was knighted by Tony Blair’s British government,
in its first New Years honors list since taking office in May.

In 1945 Sir Arthur proposed the wild and crazy idea that artificial
satellites at just the right distance from the Earth would orbit at the same
speed as the planet’s rotation, making communications relays possible.

Congratulations as well to Christian Lyngemark of Helsingborg, Sweden, and
his Satco DX website, which has just celebrated its second anniversary.
Satco DX is an incredible encyclopedia of satellite broadcast news, which on its
second birthday listed 160 satellites, 4504 TV channels, 1992 radio stations,
with links to 4168 other satellite-related webpages.


SIRIUS–Sweden’s new Sirius 2 satellite has replaced Tele-X
at 5 degrees East, after Tele-X was switched off on January 8. Among the
channels on the satellite are:

  • Swedish Television’s new digital SVT Europe service (12.380 GHz,
    SR 27500 FEC 3/4, encoded in Viaccess), including relays of Radio Sweden
  • Digital transmissions from Denmark’s new DK4 (in the SVT package)
  • Analog (12.207 GHz) and digital (12.245 GHz, SR 18750 FEC 1/2, also
    reported SR 27500 FEC 7/8) relays of the new Swedish business and
    documentary channel TV 8
  • Kanal 5 in uncoded PAL on 12.476 GHz
  • CNBC (originally EBN, see below) and Sci-Fi Channel are
    sharing 12.322 GHz in Eurocrypt M-encoded D2-MAC.

(“SATCO DX”, “SatNytt”, Richard Karlsson, and James Robinson)

RIK from Cyprus has also begun broadcasts from Sirius 2, in clear PAL on
12.265 GHz. This is the first customer for the Sirius 2 transponders distributed
by General Electric to Europe. (Richard Karlsson)

THOR–The Scandinavian version of Nickelodeon is sharing a transponder on
Thor 2 with the Sci-Fi Channel, 11.309 GHz in MPEG-2, encoded in Conax (SR 24500
FEC 7/8). (Richard Karlsson)

NRK’s shopping channel Canal M is sharing the NRK transponder on 11.325 GHz
in clear D2-MAC at 01:00-17:00 hrs CET. (“SATCO DX”)

TVS–Denmark’s satellite and cable sports channel TVS closed
December 31 after 10 months on the air. Owned by the Danish Telecommunications
company Tele Danmark, the public broadcaster Danmark’s Radio, and the Danish
soccer association, TVS was doing all right until it began coding broadcasts
four months ago. Only 11,000 subscribers were willing to pay for what had been a
free service. TVS transmit on Intelsat 707 on 11.592 GHz and on Thor 2 on 11.389
GHz. (AP and Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

TV6–Here in Sweden, the satellite entertainment channel TV6 is
about to follow that same TVS route, switching next month from free to
subscription-only. (“Dagens Nyheter”) Not only has TV6 not been earning enough
money, it’s also been cutting into the audience for sister station TV3, also run
by the Kinnevik media empire.

TV–TV3, which was Sweden’s first satellite TV station, just
celebrated its 10th birthday. But its position has been undermined by rival
satellite broadcaster Kanal Fem, Channel 5, and Sweden’s private terrestrial
broadcaster TV4.

A new survey indicates that on an average day TV4 is Sweden’s
most popular channel, with 27 percent of households tuning in. Public
broadcaster Swedish Television is close behind, with SVT2 at 26 percent, and
SVT1 at 22 percent. Satellite and cable only TV3 attracts 10 percent, with
Channel 5 rapidly closing, now up to 6 percent viewership. (TT)

TV4–Kinnevik took a hit recently when it lost its
representation on the TV4 board. The company had been the largest single
stockholder in the private terrestrial broadcaster. But late last year the rival
Bonniers publishing concern and one of its Finnish partners bought into TV4, and
gained enough control to install its own people on the board instead of
Kinnevik’s owner Jan Stenbeck and two of his underlings. (“Dagens Nyheter”,
“Svenska Dagbladet”)

So broadcast media concentration here has been broken up a bit,
even if Minister of Culture Marita Ulvskoog seems to be far more concerned about
old media power Bonniers (newspapers, magazine, and book publishing) instead of
new media conglomerate Kinnevik (satellite TV channels and distribution, radio,
cable networks, long distance and local telephone company, GSM operator,
Internet provider), and its Rupert Murdoch wannabe, Jan Stenbeck.

INTERNET VIA SATELLITE–Kinnevik has yet to announce any plans
for digital broadcasting. But it’s stolen a match on rival Canal Digital, by
offering digital satellite access to the Internet, without even having to buy a
digital receiver. The downlink is on Sirius 2, at 200 to 300 kbps, 10 times the
speed of an ordinary modem, with the return path by telephone. The system
involves a complete satellite receiver on a computer PCI card, so user’s
families can continue to watch satellite TV. (NewsWire, Tele2, “SatNytt”)

INTERNET VIA CABLE–Stockholm’s largest cable network,
Stjärn-TV, has begun tests of Internet services to 300 selected households. The
system currently has the capacity to provide the Internet to 30,000 of its
226,000 households. The service will probably be a closed version of the Web,
concentrating on sites with news, shopping, banking services, and entertainment.
(“Dagens Industri” via “SatNytt”)

Telia is also offering Internet access via its new digital
network. This is supposed to access the entire Web, and not just selected sites.
Unfortunately the promised digital decoder boxes for Telia’s digital cable
system have yet to be marketed. A Radio Sweden colleague who called Telia was
told to contact a particular TV rental company, which in turn said they had
received no information about digital decoders from Telia. According to Telia,
prospective Internet users will have to have their landlords agree to (and pay
for) new additions, including new cable wall outlets.

CABLE PACKAGES–The Swedish cartel authorities have ruled
that it is legal for cable operators to offer channels in packages, rather than
a la carte, since selling channels individually would increase the cost to
consumers. The Swedish Tenants Union had filed the complaint. Telia Cable says
it would gladly offer a la carte channels, but the stations themselves block
this by demanding too much compensation. Telia says this possibility will be
available to digital subscribers. (“Svenska Dagbladet”, Dagens Ekot, and

start marketing digital receivers for its new service. But “Aftonbladet’s” TV
commentator Frank ™stergren has gotten his hands on a Nokia Medimaster box.
However, it seems there are some problems. Frank writes in “Aftonbladet”:

“Nokia and Canal Digital should think about
user-friendliness. When the Mediamaster was upgraded a short time ago, I swore a
bit when the new software was downloaded. Now you can’t use the automatic
channel search to save channels from different satellites. If I’ve downloaded
everything from Thor and, for example, go over to Astra, then the Thor channels
are erased. I’m forced to individually save the approximately 250 Astra
channels. It’s not hard to work out that this has to do with Canal Digital
wanting us to limit outselves to its package. But Canal Digital should have
learned enough about the Nordic market by now to know that you can’t afford to
make things even more difficult if you want to succeed digitally.”


WRN–The World Radio Network, which relays Radio Sweden and many other
international broadcasters, on satellite, local rebroadcast, and the Internet,
has taken a big step into Eastern Europe. Since January 15th, WRN has been
included in Digital Audio Broadcasting tests in Warsaw, Poland, the first
multi-lingual DAB broadcaster in Eastern Europe. There are also plans to extend
the WRN relays to southwestern Poland. (WRN) Of course, we still haven’t seen
any DAB receivers in the stores yet.

Some weeks ago I visited the WRN offices in London, and in today’s program
you can hear the network’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Simon Spanswick,
describe their plans for DAB and other digital services, including digital
satellites and the Internet. We’ll be continuing our conversation about WRN’s
upcoming projects in the next edition of MediaScan.

ESTONIA–Sweden’s Telia has been blocked from investing in cable networks in
Estonia by a court in Tallinn. A rival, owned by the city of Tallinn, accused
the Swedish company of monopoly practices. Telia is appealing the decision.
Telia owns 60 percent of the cable operator Starman, as well as 24.5 percent of
both the Estonian Telephone Company and the Estonian Mobile Telephone Company,
both of which are 51 percent held by Estonian Telecom. (“Dagens Industri” via

Kinnevik’s MTV-clone ZTV began broadcasts in Estonia on January 12. ZTV Eesti
initially is broadcasting for one hour a day, in a window on Kinnevik’s Estonian
version of TV3, which unlike the Scandinavian versions of the channel is
national and terrestrial in Estonia. There are plans as well to expand ZTV to
Lativa and Lithuania. (“Metro”)

CNBC/EBN–Following an agreement between NBC and Dow Jones,
European Business News merged into CNBC Europe. Beginning January 12, the
transmissions on Astra transponder 42 (06:00-12:00 hrs UTC in Videocrypt 1) and
50 (24 hours uncoded PAL), Hot Bird 1 (24 hours uncoded PAL) on 11.262 GHz, and
Sirius 2 on 12.322 GHz (Eurocrypt D2-MAC) are carrying the same CNBC
programming. (James Robinson and Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

ASTRA–Travel Industry Channel is now sharing transponder 35 (with TCC and
Challenge TV) in uncoded PAL, at 05:00-07:00 hrs CET. (Richard Karlsson in

Sky Box Office now carries a 24 hour promo channel on transponder 57, in soft
Videocrypt 1. This has enabled Sky Box Office 1-4, which use four separate
transponders, to expand their film programming. (James Robinson)

The German educational channel BR Alpha has started broadcasts on Astra
transponder 32, in clear PAL. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

Hessen Fernsehen has begun test transmissions in uncoded PAL on transponder
40. A number of HR radio channels are included, using the ADR system. (Richard
Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

Some of the (digital) services on the new Astra 1G satellite are Germany’s
ARD (transponders 111 and 120), ZDF Vision (transponder 115), Pro Sieben Digital
Media (transponder 120) and Austria’s ORF and Switzerland’s SRG (transponder
117). Beta Teknik is replacing ARD on transponder 101. There are digital test
carriers on tranponders 113 and 115 on 1G and on transponders 73, 79, and 101,
on 1E and 1F, the former home of these German stations. (Richard Karlsson in
“Aftonbladet” and James Robinson)

Vivir and Taquilla 9 and 10 have joined the Spanish Canal Satelite Digital
package on transponder 110. (James Robinson)

Swiss Radio International is broadcasting a test music program on Teleclub’s
transponder 55, on 8.46 GHz. (James Robinson)

KOPERNIKUS–The ARD and ZDF packages have started on Kopernikus 3 on 11.498,
11.616, and 12.692 GHz in clear MPEG-2, almost the same frequencies as on Astra
1G. (“SATCO DX”)

SKY–British Sky Broadcasting says the launch of its 200
channel digital system has been moved back from Spring until early Summer.
Industry sources say this is because manufacturers have yet to start producing
the set-top decoders needed. While Sky says it is still on target, Pace has told
Reuters that it will not begin producing the decoders during its current fiscal
year, which ends in May. A separate source says the manufacturing of the boxes
has been put on hold pending European regulatory approval of BSkyB’s partly
owned interactive joint venture called British Interactive Broadcasting. BSkyB
also says SES has confirmed it will use a spare satellite to ensure that digital
transponder capacity will be available for BSkyB by this Spring. (Reuters)

Astra 2A, which is to be placed at 28.2 degrees West and
will carry digital services from BSkyB and the BBC, is scheduled to launch with
a Proton rocket on March 30. We’ve reported before that now that the 1G
satellite is in orbit, SES may move one of the older Astra satellites to 28
degrees East for digital relays before 2A is in orbit.

European Union sources say the European Commission has
expressed concerns that BIB may prevent fair competition in the new digital TV
market. They say the Commission has informed the companies involved that it is
particularly worried BIB could use its control of set-top decoders to keep
competitors at bay. The Commission has also raised objections about the fact
that BSkyB would benefit from subsidizing decoders to launch its digital TV
service. (Reuters)

Meanwhile, BSkyB is reported to be waging a vendetta
against a small cable company in West London, which dropped Sky News from its
service. The row broke out last November when General Cable dropped Sky News in
protest at a 10 percent rise in Sky’s charge for the channel, making it twice as
expensive as any rival channel. In its place General Cable started to carry the
BBC’s new 24 hours news channel.

In response, BSkyB has taken out full-page ads in local
newspapers denouncing the move by General Cable, and urging readers to telephone
the company complaints hotline. The move is particularly infuriating to Sky,
since its studios in Isleworth are within the General Cable franchise area.
(“Sunday Telegraph”)

PORNOGRAPHY–The British government has moved to ban a
French hardcore poronography channel from broadcasting to Britain. Culture
Secretary Chris Smith wrote on January 9 to Eurotica Rendezvous warning it that
under EU rules, it had 15 days to make its services comply with rules set by
Britain’s Independent Television Commission (which outlaw hardcore, and place
severe restrictions on the kind of softcore that is broadcast in the clear, for
example, in Germany). If the ban goes ahead, the channel would be the 5th to be
barred in Britain, joinning Red Hot Television, TV Erotica, Rendez Vois, and
Satisfaction Club TV. (AP)

EUTELSAT–The Italian adult channel Satisfaction Club TV
has moved to Hot Bird 2 on 11.977 GHz. It is in PAL and is still coded in Ping
Pong (which used to be called Nokia Line Shuffling. (Richard Karlsson in
“Aftonbladet”) SCT is also reported back on 11.163 GHz. (“SATCO DX”)

Wereldomroep TV on Hot Bird 1 on 11.283 GHz has changed its
name to BVN, Beste van Nederland. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

Thai TV5 Global Network has begun digital transmissions on
Hot Bird 1 on 11.248 GHz, in clear MPEG-2, SR 5632 FEC 3/4. (Richard Karlsson in
“Aftonbladet” and “SATCO DX”)

Romania’s Pro TV is on Hot Bird 3 on 12.206 GHz in uncoded
MPEG-2, SR 5632 FEC 7/8. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

The Spanish channels TVE Internacional, Canal 24 Horas, and
Onyx have begun on Hot Bird 3 on 12.111 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“SATCO DX”)

The Iranian IRIB’s Jaam-e-Jam TV Network has started tests
on Hot Bird 3 on 12.437 GHz, in uncoded PAL. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

SLOVAKIA–Norway’s Telenor (operator of Thor 1 and 2) is
opening a new digital satellite uplink station in Bratislava, Slovakia. The new
station will receive the signals from seven TV channels and will put the
multiplexed signal through to Telenor’s satellites at 1 degree West. The
channels that are already being distributed via the new station are BBC Prime,
TV1 Estland, STV and VTV (both Slovakian). A Czech channel and Shopping TV will
also be uplinked soon. (Curt Swinehart)

VTV has switched from PAL to clear MPEG-2 on Intelsat 707
on 11.540 GHz. BBC Prime has been added to the package on that transponder.

INTELSAT–Romania’s Prime TV has started on Intelsat 705
(18 degrees West) on 10.978 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“SATCO DX”)

Intelsat 803 has replaced Intelsat 515 at 21.3 degrees
West. (“SATCO DX”)

GERMANY–The German cartel office says it opposes the
digital TV alliance betwen Bertelsmann and the Kirch Group, dealing a further
blow to the struggling venture. The cartel authority said on January 9 that the
proposed link-up would dominate the market, and should be blocked. While the
cartel office’s opinion doesn’t kill the deal, it could become decisive if the
European Commission refers the case to Berlin. The commission has until January
21 to decide whether to rule on the plan or pass it on to the German cartel
office. (“Wall Street Journal”)

Following the ruling, it’s been reported that Bertelsmann
is having second thoughts about the venture, arguing that it might back out if
its Belgian business partner Albert Frere doesn’t support the project. (“Wall
Street Journal”)

EASTERN EUROPE–Alfa TV, an international satellite channel
set up by 25 countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, is due to
start tests from Budapest in March, 1998, although regular broadcasts are not
expected until 1999. The channel, which is being financed initially by the
European Union and private sponsors, hopes to eventually become self-financing.
It plans to offer simultaneous broadcasts in eight languages. Alfa is intended
to be a public TV channel, emphasizing European cultural and intellectual
values. (Curt Swinehart)

SPAIN/LATIN AMERICA–The shareholders of Via Digital have
approved the sale of a stake in their company to Galaxy Latin America, provider
of the DirecTV service to Latin America and the Caribbean. The 6.9 percent share
could be increased to 17 percent. The agreement allows the exchange of new
Spanish channels in Latin America and Spain. (Curt Swinehart)


FRANCE–Canal France International says it is suing France Telecom over a
technical mistake that led to the broadcast of a pornographic film around the
Arab world instead of a children’s program. Following the switching error at
France Telecom, the Arab satellite operator Arabsat banned CFI, despite
apologies from the channel and the French government. The ban dealt a blow to
France’s efforts to reach audiences in the Arab world. (Reuters)

France’s state-owned TV5 will start trial transmissions to the Arab world in
French and Arabic using Arabsat from January 25. This follows an agreement in
October for Arabsat to lease transmission time to TV5. (Reuters)

INTELSAT–Changes in Murdoch channels: Fox Sports World has replaced Star
Sports on Intelsat 703 (57 degrees East) in the Orbit Nework package. (“SATCO

CFI Afrique has started on Intelsat 605 on 3.935 GHz in clear MPEG-2, SR 8448
FEC 1/2. (“SATCO DX”)

TV5 Afrique has started on Intelsat 803 (21.5 degrees West) on 4.082 GHz in
clear PAL. BFBS TV has started on 4.082 GHz in encoded MPEG-2 (SR 6398 FEC 1/2),
along with these radio stations (in the clear): BFBS World 1/2/3, BFBS
Falklands, BFBS Belize, and BFBS Cyprus. (“SATCO DX”)

Nigeria’s NTA has started on Intelsat 605 (27.5 degrees West) on 4.093 GHz,
in clear PAL. (“SATCO DX”)

PORTUGAL–On January 7 the Portuguese state broadcaster RTP launched a new
service to Portugal’s former African colonies, RTP Africa. The 24 hour channel
will feature public service programming from RTP, including news and sports, and
special programs about Africa. It can be found at 3.836 GHz on Express 2 at 14
degrees West, in clear MPEG-2. RTP already beams RTP International by satellite
to North America, Europe, and Asia. (Reuters and “SATCO DX”)

IRAN–At the end of December, Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized 200
satellite dishes and related equipment in Tehran, as part of a campaign to check
Western cultural inroads. The Islamic republic banned satellite equipment three
years ago, to keep people from watching “depraved and anti-Islamic” foreign
television programs. (AFP)

LIBERIA–The Liberian government has closed down Radio Monrovia, which relays
the Voice of America, in a dispute over frequencies. This is the second Liberian
FM station closed by the government in the dispute. The first was Star Radio,
funded by the US government as a neutral voice for Liberia’s political groups.
Star Radio was established in the run-up to Liberia’s July elections, and
broadcast in 14 local languages, English and French, on FM and shortwave. Radio
Monrovia was cited for allegedly reassigning two of its frequencies to Star
Radio. President Charles Taylor closed down his own Kiss FM station on January
5, saying it was inefficient. It came back on the air shortly afterwards,
without any explanation. Human rights groups, diplomats, and the church have
condemned an appparent crackdown on the media in general. (Reuters)

SOUTH AFRICA–Time Warner will invest 20 million dollars in South Africa’s
new terrestrial TV network, if its local partner Midi Television is granted the
licence. Six other ventures are bidding for a licence, including Rupert
Murdoch’s News Corp. (Curt Swinehart)


JAPAN–Rupert Murdoch’s JSkyB and rival digital satellite broadcaster
PerfecTV have reached a tentative agreement to merge in February. This follows
the launch of Japan’s third digital DBS broadcaster, Hughes’ DirecTV, in
December. (Curt Swinehart)

CHINA–On December 25, Beijing’s BTV 1 started on Asiasat-2 on 12.329 GHz in
clear MPEG-2. BTV, which is hoping to reach Chinese outside China, is including
a 30 minute program in seven languages. (“SATCO DX” and “China Daily”)

The Hong Kong-based APT Satellite Holdings is planning to set up a DBS system
to China, pending approval from the authorities. The service, which would also
be aimed at Macau and Taiwan, hopes to have the go-ahead by March. APT operates
the Apstar satellites. (AFP and Curt Swinehart)

Meanwhile, the American Congress has more than doubled the funding for Radio
Free Asia to expand its broadcasts to China and Tibet. The new budget is for
more than 24 million dollars, compared to 9 million the previous year. From
transmitters in the Pacific, RFA broadcasts to China, Burma, Vietnam, Laos,
North Korea, and Cambodia. With the new funding, Mandarin broadcasts will
increase from 5 to 12 hours a day, and Tibetan from 2 to 4 hours, along with new
programming in Cantonese and Uighur. (AFP)

INTELSAT–On December 21 the European Ariane rocket successfuly orbited
Intelsat 804 from French Guiana. The new satellite will be located at 64 degrees
East and will provide voice, data, and video services to the Indian Ocean
region. It carries 38 C-band and 6 Ku-band transponders. Intelsat 801, which has
been at 64 degrees East, is now moving to 31.5 degrees West. (Richard Karlsson
in “Aftonbladet”)

Thai TV5 Global Nework has started on Intelsat 702 (177 degrees East) on
12.612 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“SATCO DX”)

ASIASAT–AsiaSat 3 went into a useless orbit, following a booster failure
with a Russian Proton rocket on Christmas Day. The Hughes-built satellite was to
have joined AsiaSat 1 and 2 in beaming broadcasts to Asia, the Middle East, and
parts of the former Soviet Union.

The Satco Chart continues to list CNBC on Asiasat-2 (3.700 and 3.785 GHz,
both MPEG-2), Palapa C2 (3.620 GHz in PAL and 11.645 GHz in MPEG-2), and PAS-2
(4.093 GHz in MPEG-2). ABN is still listed separately on Palapa C2 (4.040 GHz in
PAL) and PAS-2 (4.148 GHz in MPEG-2). (“SATCO DX”)


ECHOSTAR–Echostar is planning to launch local channels to satellite
subscribers, starting in six local markets. The company has uplinked the ABC,
CBS, NBC, and Fox affliliates from New York, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago,
Atlanta, and Dallas to its new Echostar 3, and has started selling the second
dish needed to receive those local channels. Echostar 3, which is at 61.5
degrees West, also carries a variety of religious broadcasters, as well as some
business and foreign language channels. Starting in March, EchoStar will offer
new data services through a special computer card. (“SATCO DX” and Curt


DELAYS–Sinosat 1 will launch with Long March in February, Gorizont 33 will
launch with Proton in March, Chinastar 1 will launch with Long March in March,
Echostar 4 will launch with Proton in April. (“SATCO DX”)

The following launches are scheduled with Atlas: Intelsat 806 on March 3,
Eutelsat W1 on May 12, Intelsat 805 on June 12, JCSAT 6 on July 20, and MCI 1
(formerly Sky 2) on August 21. (“SATCO DX”)