We’re having a bit of a celebration here…the 50th birthday party for Sweden Calling DXers, as this program was know until a few years ago. The first broadcast was on February 28, 1948 (since we’re now twice a month only, today is the closest broadcast in February to the Big Day).
The idea for the program came from an engineer here named Arne Skoog. Radio Sweden was a shortwave radio station, but the hobby of shortwave radio listening, or DXing, was new, and Arne saw there was a need to help our listeners.
In today’s gala celebration program you can hear part of a re-enactment of the very first edition of the program (Clue: the first tip in the first program was about HCJB, probably the first international station heard by North American DX novices….the last tip in the that program was about the Voice of America).
Originally Arne Skoog gathered all the shortwave news himself, but we encouraged listeners to write in, and they did. Soon we were printing up the scripts of the programs, and anyone who wrote in with a contribution went on the mailing list for one year. When Arne retired and I took over the program twenty years ago, there were 1500 names on that list.
After Arne retired, he returned to his home province of Jämtland, up in the north of Sweden. And that’s where I tracked him down to ask how it feels to see the 50th anniversary of the program. You can hear our interview in today’s program.
In the interests of full disclosure, we have to admit that Radio Australia started a similar program six months before us, but that program has since gone on the air, so this is the oldest program on its kind still in existence, and probably Swedish Radio’s oldest program.
When satellites came along a few years ago, the program changed. The emphasis switched from shortwave, first to satellites, and more recently also to broadcasting over the Internet. The title of the program changed to MediaScan, and we went from a weekly to a twice-a- month format. The old snail mail-based bulletins were phased out, and replaced with an e-mail edition available free to anyone who subscribed to the mailing list, and also available on the Worldwide Web. (As all of you reading this know.) And of course the Sweden Calling DXers name has been perpetuated in these bulletins, now up to number 2288!
MediaScan was also the first radio program from Sweden, and the second in Europe (the first in English), to be carried as a sound file on the Internet, through the help of Internet Multicasting in the US, long before the invention of RealAudio.
In today’s special program, Radio Netherlands’ Program Director Jonathan Marks, who created Media Network, tells us about the importance of Sweden Calling DXers to him personally as a young shortwave listener.
WEB NEWS–But besides looking back 50 years today, we also want to announce the latest news here at Radio Sweden. Our new World Wide Web site, together with Swedish Radio, is launching today. There’s a whole new look to our Web pages, and a brand new URL address to find us: radiosweden.com
And now on to this week’s Media News:
DIGITAL SATELLITE–Disney/ABC’s Scandinavian Broadcasting System has announced that it has reached an agrement with Canal Digital, a joint venture between Canal Plus and Norway’s Telenor, in which SBS’s Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish TV channels will be made available to viewers as part of the Canal Digital platform through-out the Nordic region. Under the agreement, Kanal 5, TV Norge, and TV Danmark will be included in Canal Digital’s basic tier och programming. (Martyn Williams)
Kanal 5 left Kopernikus 2 (28.5 degrees East) 12.521 GHz on February 1. The Scandinavian Canal Plus package left Astra 11.954 GHz on February 1. (“SATCO DX”)
Swedish newspapers are speculating about a pending merger between Telenor and Sweden’s Telia (the national telephone company and the country’s largest cable operator). One aspect that has not been commented on is how this might affect the current competition between Telenor’s digital satellite offerings at 1 degree West, and Telia’s new digital cable package, relayed by Sirius 2 from 5 degrees East. As we heard from Telia’s spokesman Hans G. Larsson last time, there is a possibility the satellite channels may be made available for DTH viewing in the the future.
In the next edition we’ll be reviewing Telia’s digital cable service, as well as the Macab DCB-101 Digital-TV-Box that is being marketed for it.
SIRIUS 2–DK4 has moved from 12.380 to 12.635 GHz in clear MPEG-2 (SR 14994, FEC 7/8). BET on Jazz has started on 12.380 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (SATCO DX” and Richard Karlsson)
The Telia transponders have changed a bit, and 25 MCE audio channels are on 11.747 and 12.130 GHz. The other Telia transponders are 12.169, 12.360, and 12.399 GHz. For the latest, check out:
THOR–Fox Kids Norway has started on Thor 2 on 11.229 Ghz in clear MPEG-2 at 06:00-18:00 hrs CET. (“SATCO DX”)
NOKIA–Nokia has signed a licencing agreement with Spyglass for technology for digital set-top boxes. The Spyglass technology will be used for Nokia’s next generation of set-top boxes for digital cable, satellite and terrestrial TV. (Direkt)
TELE DANMARK–Tele Danmark Kable has chosen OpenTV to provide its hardware and platform-independent software for seven interactive television applications for subscribers. The 7 services are:
- A weather service with national, regional, and local forecasts
- Electronic Program Guide
- TV Plus, with daily program highlights, complete with pictures and descriptions
- 12 channels from Music Choice Europe
- Home Shopping
- Six interactive games
- “Now & Next”–information about the start and end times for current and coming programs
These and more functions will be made available to Tele Danmark’s 780,000 cable subscribers during 1998. (Curt Swinehart)
FINLAND–YLE Radio Finland’s plans to introduce extensive continuous services in Swedish on shortwave for Europe seem to be suffering from frequency congestion. We appear to have to keep changing frequency several times during the day, but will be able to remain on the 9 MHz band as planned. Hopefully at least the evening, from 13:00 to 21:00 hrs UTC, would be on a continuous freuqnecy.
The original idea of 18-20 hours a day was discarded for financial reasons. We now plan in terms of 12-15 hours a day on one 500 kW transmitter, beamed for Western Europe or Southeastern Europe alterantively. As we gave up 9555 kHz as a continuous service long ago, we do not have a “home base” on 9 MHz, but hope to develop one now. (Juhani Niinistö, head of YLE Radio Finland)
NORWAY–From January 1998 the national P2 radio network is national, also during the Sami Radio slots. The northern part of Norway has been cut off from parts of the daily broadcasts of the cultural channel P2, in favor of programming from Sami Radio (intended for the indigenous Sami or Lapp community). Now additional transmitters have been provided in Narvik, Harstad, Alta, Hammerfest, Vadsoe, and Kirkenes which will carry P2 all the time, while the old network of P2/Sami remains. (Bernt Erfjord, “DX-News”)
The rolling news service, NRK Alltid Nyheter has extended its FM coverage further with transmitters in Oslo, Stavanger, Kristiansand, Bergen, Trondheim, Tromsoe, and Bodoe. The service is also available 24 hours a day via DAB in the Oslo-fjord area, via the Internet, on an audio subcarrier on CNN at 1 degree West (11.485 GHz in D2-MAC), as sound to the NRK-1 domestic and satellite test pattern, and over the telephone (+47 915-0024). Between 21:00 and 06:00 hrs (local time) a mixture of the BBC World Service and the World Radio Network (including Radio Sweden in English) is relayed. (Bernt Erfjord, “DX-News”)
Beginning February 16, NRK has a new TV channel for Norwegians abroad. The digital pay channel NRK International is provided through Telenor and Nordic Satellite Broadcasting. Programming consists of NRK productions simulcast or previously broadcast by NRK-1 and NRK-2. The NRK-2 teletext is included. A radio channel called NRK Europakanalen is included on an uncoded audio subcarrier. This is the mixture of P1, P2, P3, and Radio Norway International heard Europe-wide through NRK’s medium wave transmitters (of which Kvitsoy 1314 kHz is the main outlet). The channel is being carried on Intelsat 707 at 1 degree West on 11.174 GHz, in Conax-encoded MPEG-2.
Both NRK-1 and NRK-2 were already available on satellite in encryoted MAC, but the subscription cards are only sold in Norway. Also, the footprint changed when NRK 1 and 2 moved to the Thor satellite last year, making reception almost impossible in southern Europe. NRK International’s footprint probably covers the whole of Europe. (Bernt Erfjord, “DX-News” and Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
ASTRA–It’s finally been confirmed that Astra 1D will move from 19 degrees East to 28 degrees East. The move will take about 3 weeks and is scheduled to start around February 18. Tests at the new location will begin in mid-March. Astra 1D will carry the British digital packages from 28 degrees East until the delayed Astra 2A is in position. All the services on the vertical transponders on Astra 1E were transferred to the new Astra 1G early in the morning on February 12. The horizontal transponder services moved the following day. On February 12 all services on Astra 1D were transferred to Astra 1E. (“SATCO DX” and Richard Karlsson)
- BSkyB–14 transponders
- Turner Broadcasting–0.5 transponder
In addition at least 2.5 transponders will be used for multiplexing of TV, radio, and multimedia services from several other UK-targeted broadcasters. SES will permanently operate two Astra satellites at 28 degrees East. Astra 2A is currently scheduled to launch onboard a Russian Proton rocket in May, 1998. Astra 2B will launch with Ariane towards the end of the year. Together they will provide 56 active transponders. (Martyn Williams)SES announced on February 11 that it has selected France’s Aerospatiale to supply the spacecraft for the Astra 1K satellite, which will be deployed by the end of the year 2000. It will provide back-up capacity for the other Astra satellites at 19 degrees East, and will expand geographical coverage to include Central and Eastern Europe. The satellite will carry 52 higher-powered Ku-band transponders. Astra 1K will also carry additional Ka-band capacity (2 transponders), backing up and enhacing the coverage of the coming Astra 1H satellite. (Reuters and Martyn Williams)BSKYB–British Sky Broadcasting’s digital service at 28 degrees East begins on June 1. The full 200 channel service will start in October. (James Robinson)BSkyBsays its initial digital satellite launch in June wil be “modest”, with the “meaningful” launch of the service in the fourth quarter of the year. This is reportedly because only “initial quantities” of the required digital decoders will be available in June. On February 3 Sky promised a major pre-Christmas sales drive for its 200 channel package. The initial order for digital decoders has been placed with Amstrad, Pace, Matsushita, and Grundig, reportedly for more than 400,000 decoders. On February 3 Pace confirmed that it had received an order for digital set-top boxes from BSkyB. Pace says it will make initial shipments from June to meet BSkyB’s service launch, and Amstrad also says it will have decoders available in time for the June launch. (Reuters and Curt Swinehart)FLEXTECH–Britain’s Flextech (owned by TCI) may be taking on BSkyB with its own digital satellite service. According to the “Observer”, Flextech, which owns the rights to several BBC channels as well as the Discovery channel and UK Living, is negotiating with BSkyB to put its channels on Sky. But if the deal falls through, sources close to the company say Flextech may move ahead with its own satellite offering, reportedly with the backing of Microsoft and Turner Broadcasting. (“The Observer” via Curt Swinehart)PPV–Meanwhile, there’s a new pay-per-view rival to BSkyB. Four UK cable operators–NTL, Diamond Cable, General Cable, and Telewest–have gotten together to launch Front Row to their customers, as an alternative to Sky Box Officer, which is only offered on cable to Cable and Wireless customers. Front Row will start on March 1, and is being delivered to cable headends from Sirius 2 on 12.303 GHz in encrypted MPEG-2. Comtel, another British cable company, is to start its own PPV service later this year. (James Robinson)
MCE–Music Choice Europe has gotten together with Sky to offer its service to British analog viewers/listeners. There will be 7 channels in standard Astra Panda 1 analog stereo, from April 1, on various Astra transponders. There is no extra cost for the service, even though it is in the clear (which means anyone in Europe with an Astra dish should be able to tune in). Eventually there will be 60 channels of MCE on Astra 2A at 28 degrees East, as part of Sky’s basic digital service. (James Robinson)
Thai TV 5 Global Network is now broadcasting via a second digital transponder on Hot Bird 3 on 12.111 GHz (SR 27500, FEC 2/3). Also in that same multiplex is TVE Internacional, TVE 24 Horas (news), Onyx TV, RTBF feeds, an Internet service, and two test cards. The entire package is in the clear. (Richard Karlsson and James Robinson)
BYE BYE MISS AMERICAN PIE–Following the new trend marked by the disappearance of the Weather Channel, CMT is ceasing broadcasts to Europe on March 31, after losing 10 million dollars in 2 years. Instead CMT will concentrate on the South American market. (Richard Karlsson, Michael Murry and James Robinson)
GREECE–The Greek MAD TV, along with 5 radio channels, is to be available by subscription across Europe. A digital receiver with an Irdeto CA module is required, but not the German D-box, which is programmed to only receive DF-1 and Premiere. (Richard Karlsson)
JAPAN–JCSAT 1B (JCSAT 5) has replaced JCSAT 1A (JCSAT 4) at 150 degrees East. JCSAT 4 will move to 124 degrees East. (“SATCO DX”)
DirecTV Japan says it will announce its new programming line-up and packages next week. The company, which began broadcasting an initial 63 channel service on December 1, will announce a list of new channels and prices on February 23, hopefully fullfilling its promise to provide 90 channels. The revised service will begin in April. The new line-up is expected to include BBC World, Sports-I ESPN, Sky-A, The Golf Network, Space Shower, and an adult channel. (TS-Asia and Reuters)
Rivals Japan Sky Broadcasting and PerfecTV finally officially announced on February 3 that they will merge in early April to create Japan’s largest DBS platform. PerfecTV, which has been on the air since Autumn 1966, had signed up 500,000 subscribers by December, short of its original target. JSkyB, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, along with Sony, Fuji Television, and Softbank, was expected to offer 100 channels from April. Sony, also a shareholder in PerfecTV, becomes the largest investor in the new firm. (Reuters)
PerfecTV says the new non-stop news channel from Japan News Network, the news affiliate network of TBS, will launch on April 1 as a basic channel. JNN News Bird will be included in the service’s “Perfec Pack”, increasing the number of channels in the package to 31. Two new packages have been announced: “Super Family Set” and “Powerful Sports Set”, both with 3 channels. (TS-Asia)
SOUTH KOREA–Media baron Rupert Murdoch has agreed to enter into a joint satellite broadcasting venture with South Korea’s Dacom Corp. Details for the domestic consortium have yet to be worked out. Dacom plans to launch a satellite in October next year. (Reuters, AFP and TS- Asia)
INSAT–The final location for Insat 2R is 55 degrees East. DD 1 is testing on 3.811 GHz in PAL. (“SATCO DX”)
APSTAR–BBC World is on 4.195 GHz in clear MPEG-2 (SR 5800, FEC 3/4) on Apstar 1 (138 degrees East). (“SATCO DX”)
ASIASAT–Star News has started regular transmissions on Asiasat 2 (100.5 degrees East) on 3.740 GHz in clear PAL. (“SATCO DX”)
INTELSAT–Intelsat 804 replaced Intelsat 801 at 64 degrees East on February 1. (“SATCO DX”)
AUSTRALIA–The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has signed a contract with PanAmSat to use PAS-2 for distribution of news and programming to its studios, and some transmitters around Australia. ABC will use 27 MHz bandwidth on the PAS-2 Ku-band Australia/New Zealand beam. The service is expected to move to the PAS-8 Pacific Ocean Region satellite later this year. PAS-8 will carry 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders, and is scheduled for launch on a Proton rocket in the third quarter of 1998. It will be located at 166 degrees East. PAS-2 is located at 169 degrees East. (TS-Asia)
In recent months Radio Australia has been unable to issue formal QSL cards due to resource limitations. As a result of extended discussions in Melbourne between the Australian Radio DX Club and the English Language Service of Radio Australia, an agreement was reached on February 10 for the re-introduction of Radio Australia QSL cards. Radio Australia will be forwarding reception reports and blank cards to the ARDXC, which will check the reports and fill-in the cards. Radio Australia will then mail the completed QSL cards to listeners. All reports should be sent to:
- Radio Australia
- GPO 428G
- Melbourne 3001
- Victoria, Australia
PRIMESTAR–The Federal Communications Commission says it won’t rule on Rupert Murdoch’s proposal to merge his American Sky Broadcasting into Primestar before April. Primestar was formed by the American cable industry, to meet the threat from DBS rivals like DirecTV. The deal is subject to approval by the FCC and the Justice Department. The FCC will access the potential impact on cable rates and rivals’ ability to get cable TV programming. Justice is looking to make sure the deal doesn’t stifle competition in the DTH satellite TV market. (AP)
QVC/MIR-The American shopping channel QVC has taken advantage of the money-strapped Russian space program, to put on a show from the space station MIR, in “First Friday Extreme Shopping” on February 6. Among the offerings were pens that write in zero-G, meteorites, tiny plastic- encased Mars rocks, and genuine spacesuits. (AP)
INTELSAT–Intelsat announced on February 3 that four new broadcasters and service providers have signed contracts for the Intelsat 806 satellite, which is scheduled for launch on February 27 on an Atlas rocket, and will be located at 60.5 degrees West. Bucking the usual trend, the launch has been moved up from March 3. The newcomers are Brazil’s Globosat/TV Globo, Peru’s America TV, IMPSAT Venezuela, and Wold Communications. This brings the number of digital program channels on the satellite to more than 70. (Curt Swinehart and “SATCO DX”)
ARIANE–Ariane flight V105 on February 4 successfully carried into orbit Brasilsat B3. It will be located at 65 degrees West with 28 C- band transponders. Also launched was Inmarsat-3F5. (“SATCO DX” and Reuters)
EUTELSAT–Hot Bird 4, the 5th satellite at 13 degrees East) is to be launched on February 27. It carries 20 Ku-band transponders in the range 10.719-10.949 and 12.615-12.731 GHz. (Richard Karlsson)
DELAYS–The launch of Sinosat 1 with Long March is delayed from February to May. (“SATCO DX”)