RACISM AND MEDIA–Mona Sahlin, a former top Swedish cabinet minister, and now Swedish head of the European Year Against Racism, has accused the media bearing much of the responsibility for the growth of racism in Sweden. In an opinion article in the Stockholm daily “Dagens Nyheter” March 1, Sahlin says immigrants are virtually invisible in the press and broadcast media here, and when they do appear they are described in a negative light (in connection with crimes, for example).
To back up her claim, Mona Sahlin cites a recent study conducted by a student at Stockholm University’s School of Journalism. In an analysis of 1500 articles and radio and TV stories, just over 2500 people were quoted. Of them, only 212 are people born abroad or with a parent born outside Sweden. That corresponds to 8 percent. And if you just take people from outside Scandinavia, Britain, Germany, and France, that figure drops to less than 5 percent. Mona Sahlin points out that 19 percent of Sweden’s population is foreign-born or has a foreign-born parent.
Sahlin says this virtual invisibility of immigrants here contributes heavily to racist feelings.
The survey she cites comes closely after a similar study by a sociologist who says the media stirs up racism by giving unjustifiable exposure to racism organizations. In today’s program, researcher Birigtta Loewander also tells Radio Sweden’s Azariah Kiros that news coverage of racism on public television here leaves much to be desired.
DIGITAL TV–Digital terrestrial television is coming to Sweden. When the application period for licences closed recently, more than 50 companies had sought access to one of the six national and two regional channels that will be made available. The existing terrestrial TV broadcasters, public service Swedish Television and the commercial TV4 are likely to get first shot at the new digital outlets, and Swedish Television has ambitious plans for several new channels. Now Minister of Culture Marita Ulvskog says more frequencies are needed for digital TV, and her ministry is investigating the problem. (Ministry of Culture press release)
One of Swedish Television’s planned new channels is SVT 24, a round-the-clock news channel. It be headed by veteran news anchor Lena Lundkvist. She says SVT 24 will carry news bulletins every half hour or quarter hour, with material from the regular national and regional news programs. In between will be reruns of current events and documentary programs, along with studio debates and live broadcasts from around the country. (TT)
MURDOCH MOVES INTO SWEDEN–Ulvskog has also just appointed a committee to investigate media concentration here. It will be filing a report by December. But we’ve got a new international media empire on the Swedish scene now. The Stockholm commercial radio station Classic FM was originally started by the British company of the same name. It’s been sold a couple of times in the last couple of years, and since midnight Monday night, the frequency now belongs to Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Radio.
Classic FM was last Stockholm commercial FM station playing anything other than rock and pop. Now Sky Radio is on 107.5 MHz, and sounds like the rest of the commercial dial (except that instead of news perhaps once an hour and occasional DJ breaks, Sky Radio is totally without announcers).
DISNEY WANTS OUT–But while Rupert Murdoch is moving in, the world’s number one media empire is trying to get out. Disney, through its purchase of ABC, owns the largest stake (19.6 percent) of the Scandinavian Broadcasting System, which has satellite TV stations in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, among other interests (such as VT4 in Belgium and SBS6 in the Netherlands). But according to press reports, Disney wants to divest itself of ABC’s foreign holdings, which are not consistent with its primary interest in marketing Disney and ESPN channels. (AFX, Martyn Williams) Does this explain why Kanal 5, having carried Disney cartoons daily for many months, suddenly switched to Warner Brothers’ cartoons instead a couple of weeks ago? According to another report, Disney’s distribution subsidiary Buena Vista International is in discussions to extend its current agreement with SBS.
Meanwhile, the three SBS TV stations have agreed to leave the free world of uncoded transmissions, and are coming under the umbrella of the Canal Plus/Canal Digital pay system. Sweden’s Kanal 5 and Norway’s TV Norge have been just about the only Scandinavian satellite stations using the conventional PAL broadcast system, while Danish partner TV Danmark has used D2- MAC, but uncoded. Now all that will change, and viewers will only be able to watch the SBS station aimed at their country, rather than all three. Besides joining Canal Digital’s MPEG-2 package, all three will also become coded D2-MAC channels. (“SatNytt”, Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
CMT/SKY–As we’ve reported before, Country Music Television Europe is going off the air on March 31. CMT has been part of the “Sky Entertainment” channel that British Sky Broadcasting distributes to Scandinavia via Telenor’s satellites at 1 degree West (11.667 GHz). (Ironically, none of the Sky Entertainment programming actually comes from BSkyB.) Now Sky is negotiating with CMT to include the American version of the channel in Sky Entertainment. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
INTELSAT–BBC Prime has left Intelsat 707, 11.014 GHz (MPEG- 2), a Canal
Digital package it shared with TV Danmark, TV1 Estonia. Eurosport, CNBC, and
Totoline. It continues in D2- MAC on 11.679 GHz, and as part of the Telia
digital packages on rival Sirus 2. (“SATCO DX” and “Aftonbladet”)
GRANADA–Granada Good Life is to be renamed Home and Garden TV from April, when Granada Sky Broadcasting makes some changes in an attempt in improve ratings. At the same time, Granada Plus will get a new logo, and a “fresher” onscreeen identity. (“What Satellite TV”)
EURONEWS–Euronews will be revamped with more hard news coverage and in-depth reports from Britain’s Channel Four, following the recent acquisition of editorial control of the station by Independent Television News. ITN has labelled the existing output as “Europudding”, and wants to introduce longer ITN-produced features during the afternoon and primetime schedule to compete against CNN, Sky News, and CNBC, and BBC World. It will also increase sports coverage to 7 days a week, and reduce the number of magazine programs. (“What Satellite TV”)
SONY–A new channel offering Asian language entertainment launched in Britain on March 1. Initially Sony Entertainment Television Asia will be offered on via cable, but it plans to launch a digital satellite service later in the year. (“What Satellite TV”)
BRITAIN–The international BBC World and the new domestic BBC News 24 are to merge their overnight programming from April 1. A combined bulletin, led by an international story, will be broadcast in the first half of each hour between 1:00 and 5:00 AM British time. (“What Satellite TV”) One wonders why the BBC needs two 24 hour news channels, and why it needs two channels featuring virtually identical programming from the archives (UK Gold for the domestic audience and BBC Prime abroad)?
Rupert Murdoch has been in trouble in Britain over accusations that he tried to suppress criticism of China in a forthcoming book by the last British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten. The book was to be published by Murdoch’s Harper Collins. Murdoch has extensive interests in China, and a few years ago he admitted he removed the BBC from his Star TV transmissions to North Asia, because BBC coverage of Chinese human rights violations had offended Beijing. While most of the British media have covered this story extensively, it has been played down by Murdoch’s own “The Times” On the BBC’s Radio Four program “Today” on Monday, “The Times'” Political Editor actually defended Murdoch’s position by saying that while every newspaper will loudly support the concept of the freedom of the press in public, any media consumer must expect that media companies will suppress any news that might interfere with the interests of their owners. (An honest, if appalling statement, and one strong argument for public service broadcasting.) (Reuters, AP, BBC)
British broadcast regulators said February 27 that British Sky Broadcasting has agreed to stop bundling the Disney Channel with its subscription movie channels. The Independent Television Commission had investigated the matter after British cable operator Videotron complained that its viewers were required to purchase two BSkyB movie channels before they could get the Disney Channel. Beginning, March 2, the Disney Channel will be available to cable operators on a stand-alone basis. (AP and Michael Murray) But will BSkyB satellite subscribers also be permitted to subscribe to the Disney Channel alone?
British culture secretary Chris Smith has urged rival television broadcasters to work together to ensure that digital TV is successfully launched in Britain this year. British broadcasters are competing to offer viewers digital TV via three systems, terrestrial, cable, and satellite. Smith says it is more important to focus on the service consumers would get rather than the on which platform delivers it. Satellite broadcaster BSkyB plans to lead the way in June, while terrestrial broadcasters British Digital Broadcasting (Carlton and Granada) plan to follow suit this Autumn. Cable groups are also planning to offer rival services this year. (Reuters) It’s a bit unclear what Smith means here….he doesn’t seem to want them to use the same set-top boxes.
Meanwhile, BDB has risked the anger of BSkyB by awarding a key technology contract to the rival Franco-German group SECA. BDB says it chose SECA set-top box technology over that of News Datacom (a unit of BSkyB’s major shareholder, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp), because the system is tried and tested in more than 1.5 million set-top boxes across Europe. But BSkyB is concerned the digital decoders will not be compatible with its coming digital satellite service, and insists that BDB has an obligation to compatibility. (As we’ve reported before, rather than use the same technology used by other European satellite digital broadcasters, BSkyB has adopted its own system, so that normal Eruopean MPEG-2 receivers won’t work with Sky’s system.) SECA is run by France’s Canal Plus and Germany’s Bertelsmann. (Reuters)
MURDOCH IN AUSTRIA–In other Murdoch news, News Corp and Austria’ biggest building tycoon are planning to establish a private satellite TV channel aimed at doemstic audience. The monthly magazine “Trend” says talks between News Corp and Hans Haselsteiner, main shareholder in Bau Holding, have reached an advanced stage. The magazine says Austrian satellite TV (OFS) would transmit digital broadcasts for 24 hours a day from a studio in Vienna, via Eutelsat. Haselsteiner was reported as saying “Representatives from Fox and the Fox Kids channel have already visited Vienna several times for detailed discussions.” (Reuters)
SATELLITE DAB–While digital television is still just getting started in Europe, many countries have already begun regular broadcasts using Digital Audio Broadcasting. (The only problem is that the receivers still aren’t in the shops.) (DAB uses a chunk of spectrum to multiplex a shifting number of stereo or mono audio signals, along with a variety of data services, including text and images on small display screens.) Now BBC engineers have developed a new approach to satellite uplinking, which brings DAB satellite delivery (SDAB) another step closer. Satellite DAB, using the Eureka 147 system, is seen by many as the future of international radio, but one of the arguments against it is that all of the service contributions (audio and/or data) would have to be uplinked from a common point.
Engineers at the BBC’s Kingswood Warren facility have used a new technique called Time Division Multiplexing (TDM), which allows each broadcaster to uplink their output directly to the satellite, using a low-power Earth station. Recent trials using the Eutelsat II-F4 satelllite, uplinked from two mobile Earth stations, showed that the TDM system works well. (“Ariel” via Richard Buckby)
ANALOG RADIO–According to the “Independent on Sunday” newspaper, European broadcaster CLT-UFA (owned by Luxembourg’s CLT and Germany’s Bertelsmann) wants to sell its interests in four British radio stations. The paper, citing a well-placed City (of London) source, said the company’s stake in the four stations–Talk radio, XFM, Atlantic 252, and RTL Country–is worth nearly 100 million dollars. The paper says the company wants to use the money to maintain its share of Channel 5, owned jointly with Pearson, United News and Media, and Warburg Pincus, as the British TV channel’s base expands. (Reuters)
FRANCE–CLT-UFA has also sold its 20 percent stake in the French digital satellite television venture Television Par Satellite. The French holding group Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux is buying 15 percent and M6-Metropole Television (which is one- third owned by Suez-Lyonnaise) bought the remaining 5 percent. The other shareholders in TPS are the French domestic TV channel TF1 and French Television Enterprises, a combination of state-owned France Television and France Telecom.
EUTELSAT–Hot Bird 4 was successfully launched from French Guiana on February 27. It wll be the fifth satellite located at 13 degrees East, and carries 20 transponders in the bands 10.719-10.949 and 12.615-12.731 GHz. On April 1 the Hungarian channel Duna Television is moving from Eutelsat II-F3 (16 degrees East) to Hot Bird 4, 10.815 GHz. (AP, Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
France’s Fashion TV is to end all analog transmissions from Eutelsat’s 13 degrees East on March 21. Only digital transmissions from Astra 1F 12.245 GHz will continue. Replacing Fashion TV on Eutelsat is a new German channel called BOB-tv, with will also be in clear PAL. (Stefan Hagedorn, “Transponder News”) Fashion TV recently carried coverage of the Carneval in Rio, both on the TV channel, and via the Internet.
Croatia’s HRT has stopped analog transmissions on Eutelsat II- F3 10.987 GHz. From April 15, HRT2 and HRT3 will be broadcasting as part of a Croatian/Slovenian package on Hot Bird 3 on 12.303 GHz, in Viacess-coded MPEG-2. Radio stations and HRT1 will be carried uncoded. (Stefan Hagedorn, “Transponder News”)
INTELSAT–A digital package of the American sports channel ESPN and the Arabic Orbit News is on Intelsat-K 11.494 GHz, but has changed from MPEG-2 to clear MPEG-1.5 (SR 20150, FEC 3/4). (Stefan Hagedorn, “Transponder News” and “SATCO DX”)
ASTRA–A German version of Bloomberg Television will start on Astra in June, reportedly sharing transponder 11 with the British Bloomberg channel. (Stefan Hagedorn, “Transponder News”)
LEBANON–Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia has proposed setting up a Hebrew-language satellite television channel in a bid to influence Israeli public opinion, and bring about a pull-out of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon. According to a statement from Hezbollah’s information department, Lebanon’s Information Minister has reacted positively to the proposal. (AFP)
JAPAN–A Japanese H-2 rocket failed to launch a communications and broadcasting satellite called Comets or Kakahashi (“bridge”) on February 21, after its second stage burned for too short a time. The satellite, which cannot be put into a geo-stationary orbit, at 2.2 tons is one of the world’s largest. It was to be used for experiments in new satellite broadcasting services, such as wide-band high definition TV and regional broadcasting. (Reuters and AP)
- Movies: Comin’ Soon TV, SF Channel (science fiction), MOMO Channel, WOWOW Movie Channel (tenative name), Power Movie
- Music and Culture: TVK Yokohama, Music Movie Channel, BET on Jazz, M-BROS, Music Japan Network TV, CoCoRo TV
- News: JNN News Bird, MX-TV, BBC World
- Education and Lifestyle: She-TV, Outdoor Channel
- Adult: Satisfaction Channel
The service will also be launching a 29-channel audio service. (TS-Asia)
THAICOM–Sony Entertainment TV has started in PAL on Thaicom 3 (78.5 degrees East) on 3.520 GHz. (“SATCO DX”)
NEW ZEALAND–New Zealand’s Sky Network, another part of the far-flung Murdoch empire, says it will launch its digital satllite service in the second half of 1998. An agreement has been signed with another Murdoch company, NDS Asia Pacific Pty (which used to be News Datacom Pty) to supply a smartcard system and digital compression equipment. NDS is the supplier of smartcards for Sky’s existing analog service. What remains is to choose the supllier of the digital decoder hardware. (AP)
GENERAL ELECTRIC–GE Americom says its GE-5 satellite is scheduled to be launched and operational by the fourth quarter of this year. GE-5 will be used for satellite news gathering, along with wideband data applications for business users. It will carry 16 Ku-band transponders, and wil be able to handle both analog and digital signals. (Curt Swinehart)
CABLE AND SATELLITE–The Federal Communications Commission says it will consider whether restrictions are needed on companies seeking to own both cable television and direct broadcast satellite services. This move directly affects the sale of satellite slots belonging to Rupert Murdoch’s American Sky Broadcasting to PrimeStar, a DBS service owned by major cable operators. The FCC says it will not rule on the transaction until April at the earliest. The deal has cast doubt on maintaining competition betwen the two delivery methods. (Reuters)
Intelsat 806 will be located at 40.5 dgrees West, and will mainly serve South America. The satellite was originally due for launch on a Chinese Long March rocket. However, following a series of problems with the Long March, Intelsat switched to the American-built Atlas. (“SATCO DX”, Curt Swinehart, and Reuters)
ECUADOR–HCJB has discontinued broadcasts on 9365 kHz to Europe. This affects several language services, including English at 07:00-09:00 hrs UTC. English will continue at that time on 5865 kHz. 9365 kHz was an out-of-band frequency which is also used for point-to-point communications, and HCJB has discontinued its use after a complaint from the government of Colombia. (HCJB)
PHASE 3D–Amsat’s Phase-3D amateur radio satellite is 90 percent complete, and AMSAT officials remain optimistic it can hitch a ride aboard the next Ariane 5 test flight, expected for launch in late Spring or early Summer from French Guiana. Following a meeting with the European Space Agency in Paris on January 20, Phase 3-D project leader Dr. Karl Meinzer said it might be included on the Ariane-503 launch. A scientific satellite is scheduled to ride on the test, and if the ESA cannot find a commercial partner, then it would prefer Phase 3-D to a dummy satellite, as was used on flight 502. (Phase 3-D lost its spot with 502 when the ESA reneged on its scheduling and forced Amsat off.) (“ARRL Letter” via Curt Swinehart and “Satellite Times”)