History of Sweden Calling DXers

Sweden Calling DXers #2292


IMMIGRANTS AND DISHES–Satellite television is very popular among immigrants in Sweden, in order to keep in contact with their homelands. While cable networks may offer a single token channel per language as part of an extra package, with his or her own dish, an immigrant can watch many channels in Turkish, Arabic, German, English, or whatever. A few years ago landlords tried to stop people from putting dishes on their balconies, but the authorities intervened, saying it was an issue of free speech.

Now, however, a major Swedish public housing company has ordered its residents to remove their balcony dishes. The official argument is that the antennas are dangerous because they could fall on someone below. But the respected Stockholm daily “Dagens Nyheter” says the real reason is because the housing company has a contract with Stockholm’s largest cable company, Stjärn-TV, and the anti-dish campaign is to protect the cable operator’s profits.

A local politician with an immigrant background says if the housing company really is concerned about safety, then it should provide a service to tenants to put up their dishes in a secure manner. “Dagens Nyheter” reports that the housing company has never considered that alternative. (“Dagens Nyheter”)

RADIO–According to a new survey from RUAB, 80.7 percent of the Swedish population between 9 and 79 years old listens to the radio every day. This is down from 82 percent at the beginning of the year. Average listening time has also shrunk somewhat from 185 to 183 minutes during an average day. 65 percent of listeners prefer the public broadcaster Sveriges Radio (Swedish Broadcasting Corporation). 30 percent prefer the private commercial stations. There is a shift from Sveriges Radio towards the private broadcasters. (TT)

YLVA MARIA THOMPSON–The magazine “What Satellite TV” recently announced its 1998 awards for the best satellite programming and channels, chosen in a reader poll. The Best Foreign Language Channel was Sweden’s pay film TV1000.

What makes this interesting is TV1000 is restricted to viewers in Scandinavia, and the only way you can see it in Britain is with a special (D2-MAC) decoder and a pirate card. And the reason people in rather puritanical Britain go to great lengths to tune in is because TV1000 and sister station TV1000 Cinema broadcast hardcore pornography, one film after midnight on one channel or the other almost every night, something which is not available on any legal TV channels in Britain.

Until recently those TV1000 programs were presented by former art student and stripper Ylva Maria Thompson. Ylvia Maria dropped by the Radio Sweden studios, in today’s program she talks to Keith Foster about how she got started in the sex business.

Meanwhile, “What Satellite TV” reports that “TV watchdogs” (whatever those are) are calling on the British government to outlaw the new Eros TV (four hours a night on Eutelsat II-F6, 11.575 GHz), which would make it the sixth satellite sex channel to be banned in Britain.

PIRATE DECODERS–Pirate decoders and smartcards are popular here in Sweden as well, and the police recently broke up a gang in the southern part of the country, who reportedly had made about 80 thousand dollars selling pirate cards at about 35 dollars each. (TT)

Last week an organization to fight illegal decoding was organized here. While it is against Swedish law to market or sell pirate decoder cards, possession is not. The new organization, called Stop, says hundreds of thousands of Swedes are illegally viewing pay-TV. According to Stop, there are 10 to 15 companies in Sweden making or selling pirare equipment.

Stop also claims program-makers and companies are losing money because of pirate viewing, but critics say that most pirate cards are probably for channels that program companies refuse to make available, like TV1000 in Britain or British Sky Broadcasting in Sweden. (“Svenska Dagbladet”)

Meanwhile, in its May issue, “What Satellite TV”, says this year TV1000 and its rival Canal Plus have used Electronic Counter Measures up to four times a week to render the pirate cards useless. But, the magazine says, the pirates have fought back and a number of highly sophisicated but inexpensive programmers are now available to update cards quickly and beat the code changes. And it reviews the latest equipment. (“What Satellite TV”)

DIGITAL DECODERS–There have been a few comments about my report last time about Telia’s digital cable decoders. Bert Dahlström, who edits the satellite news for the Swedish magazine “Ljud och Bild” (which until this month was “Elektronikvaerlden”) makes an interesting comparison with the digital decoders used for Canal Digital’s satellite service (which I have not seen or tested). He says the cable decoder has a better Electronic Program Guide, “closer to the programs….and you don’t need to think as much about which channel the program is in. This was how they predicted digital satellite receivers would be, but that still seems remote.”

Ray Gronberg sends the following article from the March 25 issue of “Computer Sweden”:

The problem of boxes that that can only recive one form of digital TV broadcasts seems to be solved…As it appears today, there is no decoder or set-top box that can handle all three digital transmission alternatives, that is terrestrial, cable, or satellite broadcasts. But Telia will change that with its new sidecar solution….which is a form of frequency converter.

(The new organization)…Nordig…includes Telia, Tele Danmark, Telenor, Danmarks Radio, YLE, NRK, SVT, and (Sweden’s) TV4. This means that at the end of 1998 it will be possible to present the sidecar solution, which will be on the market in early 1999. At the end of 1999 Nordig expects to present a combination box. This will be expensive for consumers….35 percent more expensive than a decoder today.

Peter Morgan has asked about the costs of the Telia digital cable service.

Telia charges just over USD 30 for the smartcard for the first year, which drops to around USD 25 following years. This includes the basic package of 12 (mostly Swedish) TV stations, along with 25 music channels from MCE, 3 international radio stations (BBC World Service, NPR Worldwide, and RFI), games, “mini-surfing”, and PPV movies.

Package 1 for USD 16 a month includes 20 TV channels:

Discovery, Cartoon Network, TNT, Travel, BBC World, BBC Prime, Sci-Fi, CNN, SKY Entertainment (with programming from Granada), (Sweden’s) TV6 (replacing CMT), Muzzik, NBC, Animal Planet, TV8, Nickelodeon, VH1, (France’s) TV5, ZDF, Sky News & National Geographic, Knowledge TV (TCC disappears May 25)

You can also order a la carte channels at around USD 5 a month each, including most of the above channels, plus:

Rai Uno, Sky News, Nickelodeon, TVE, ZDF, TRT, TV Polonia, MBC

The following three channels from Sweden’s neighbors are available for around USD 3.60 a month:

NRK 1, TV Finland, DR1

Canal Plus/Canal Plus Yellow and TV1000/TV1000 Cinema are each available for around USD 25 a month.

Telia has introduced teletext on the package 1 channels (the Swedish channels already had it), for TV sets with teletext. Starting in the Fall, teletext will be included in the digital remote control (which should mean it will be available even for TV sets without teletext, just as teletext is available in D2-MAC satellite channels). Telia is also promising more TV channels in September, and is promising a timer function in the digital box, to make possible recording different channels when one is away or asleep. (Telia)

SATELLITE DIGITAL–The Canal Digital package on Intelsat 707 and Thor 2 began scrambling in Conax on April 20. (James Robinson)

SIRIUS–Denmark’s DK 4 and Star TV have left Sirius 2 12.636 GHz, and are now only on 12.437 GHz. (“SATCO DX”)


CHILDREN’S CHANNEL–When the Children’s Channel disappeared from most of Europe on April 1st, the Nordic version of the channel continued, via Norway’s Thor 1 satellite. Britain’s largest cable operator, Cable and Wireless, has continued to carry the channel, by relaying the Nordic version. But when that comes to an end on May 25th, reports, TCC will continue via Cable and Wireless via Intelsat 605 (27.5 degrees West), through a special contract with (TCI’s) Flextech. (James Robinson)

NBC–With the CNBC/EBN merger, NBC Europe gained an extra transponder, and we have carried speculation about potential new exciting NBC channels in Europe, such as msNBC. Instead it looks like we may lose much of what we currently have. NBC and National Geographic have announced a partnership where NBC programming in Europe (and Asia) will be eliminated in favor of National Geographic’s nature documentaries. This marks another set-back for American television companies who have tried to expand overseas. The Weather Channel and Country Music Television have recently dropped their European channels (as has TCC). On July 1 NBC Europe will change its programming to the National Geographic Channel. However, NBC will keep much of its American programming on the air for its 25 million subscribers in German-speaking countries. (What does this mean? Special programming for German cable, carried on encoded satellite transponders?) The National Geographic Channel will still show a few hours a day of NBC news or CNBC programming, the two networks said. (AP)

How does this affect the existing National Geographic Channel, which is part of Sky Multichannels, and shares Astra transponder 7 with Fox Kids, and Sky News and National Geographic, which is carried to Scandinavia? Does Rupert Murdoch have a veto?

One side-effect of this may be the loss of just about the last broadcasts of Major League Baseball in Europe. Otherwise baseball has been largely killed off in Europe by the French, when they took over sports channels. There used to be baseball of WH Smith’s old sports channel, but that disappeared when it merged with the (French- controlled) Eurosport. Filmnet’s SuperSport carried baseball as well, but that disappeared with the channel when Filmnet was bought by France’s Canal Plus. The new Nordic Canal Plus has sports, but certainly none of the North American ones formerly carried on SuperSport. Baseball remains twice a week on Britain’s Channel 5. We’ve long hoped that Ted Turner would put his Atlanta Braves on TNT, but that hasn’t happened. Perhaps now with the expansion of Sky Sports, Rupert Murdoch will carry his newly-purchased Los Angeles Dodgers there.

ASTRA–Starting April 20, the UKTV Preview Channel on Astra transponder 56 has been replaced with UK Horizons, which had been sharing the transponder with two other UK TV channels. UK Horizons is on the air 06:00-00:00 hrs daily, with programs about science, nature, and wildlife. (James Robinson) The BBC’s UK Horizons appears to be popular. “What Satellite TV” writes: “Both Discovery and The National Geographic Channel” have surprisngly seen some small audience falls with the growing strength of UK Horizons.”

Granada Good Life, which was due to relaunch in April as Granada Home and Garden, on May 1 instead becomes Granada Breeze. The channel will include new programs “aimed not just at home and garden, but body and mind as well”. (“What Satellite TV”)

Sky Scottish is closing on May 31, as it “has not reached the financial targets set at time of launch”. (“James Robinson and “What Satellite TV”)

Flextech (TCI) is launching a music TV channel to compete with MTV. Expected to start in May, UK FM (sic) will broadcast for 18 hours a day from Astra. It would produce half its programming, with the rest from the BBC. (“What Satellite TV”)

Playboy TV is running a PPV service on Astra transponder 58 at 23:00- 03:00 hrs. This is different from the regular Playboy Channel (on transponder 31), and gives viewers the opportunity to subscribe nightly rather than monthly. (James Robinson)

Music Choice Europe has postponed its plans to offer 7 radio channels in analog on Astra free to Sky Multichannels subscribers. The company has decided it will “concentrate efforts on digital instead”. (“What Satellite TV”)

Deutsche Welle plans to cease analog radio services on Astra in December. But the channel wants listener feedback. E-mail to: charles@dwelle.de (“What Satellite TV” and Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)

There is now a Polish digital package on Astra at 19 degrees East from Wizja TV, carrying 15 international channels, including Hallmark Entertainment, Cartoon Network/Turner Classic Movies, Quest TV, Atomic TV, Knowledge TV, Travel Channel, and Home Box Office. (James Robinson) Wizja’s owner and the Polish subsidiary of Canal Plus have announced they are merging their digital systems. The announcement came the day before the Wizja digital service launched. Canal Plus Polska has 240,000 analog subscribers in Poland, and was going to launch its own digital service later this year. The combined service, called Wizja Plus, is to launch in September. (“Wall Street Journal”) Wizja is uplinking from Britain, and concern is reflected in the comments of journalist Andrzej Bober in the Warsaw daily “Zycie Warszawy”: “This satellite raiding operation from near London can cause a real revolution on the Polish airwaves, including the collapse of our public television in its present form.” Besides satellite subscribers, Wizja TV can be received by 700,000 Polish cable subscribers. It’s estimated it will have up to 1.5 million viewers by the end of this year. (PAP)

DIGITAL ASTRA–British Sky Broadcasting is testing on Astra 1D at 28 degrees East: 11.758, 11.778, 11.836, 11.856, 11.914, and 11.934 GHz. All test transmissions consist of Sky News, color bars, or a Phillips test card. The PAL test card remains on 11.993 GHz. There will be 50 Music Choice Europe channels on 11.778 GHz, which is to be increased to 60 in the future. (James Robinson)

Flextech, which was planning to launch a rival digital service to Sky, is now optimistic its channels will be included in Sky’s digital package. (“What Satellite TV”)

The shopping channel Wow TV is understood to have signed a deal with Sky that will see its 10 channels as part of the Sky digital package. (“What Satellite TV”)

There will also be more sports in Sky’s digital service. Sky Sports News will be a 24 hour sports-only news channel. Sky Sports Golf is also planned. (James Robinson) Flextech is also starting The Sports Entertainment Network in the Fall. (“What Satellite TV”)

EUTELSAT VS ASTRA–Having claimed rights to 29 degrees East, despite Astra’s prior claim, and having temporarily put Hot Bird 4 there while Astra was starting operations from Astra 1D at that position, Eutelsat has taken the next step, by actually ordering a satellite to be placed at the controversial orbital slot.

Eutelsat’s Board of Signatories has given the go-ahead for the new satellite, called Europesat-1. It will carry 36 transponders and is to be in orbit by mid-2000. Eutelsat dismisses the confrontation with Astra’s owner SES, commenting “The design of Europesat-1 at 29 degrees East will allow co-existence with a system of satellites at 28.2 degrees East belonging to SES, in accordance with principles for frequency sharing currently being finalized between the two satellite operators”. (Eutelsat)

An SES spokesman comments: “You can only share something with someone if you own it. Eutelsat doesn’t. It hasn’t had the rights to that orbital slot since the World Radiocommunications Conference last November.” (“What Satellite TV”)

SKY VS BBC–Following the decision by many British cable operators to switch from Sky News (which costs) to BBC News 24 (which is free), Sky has reduced its charges for Sky News, but has doubled the cost of Sky 1. “What Satellite TV” writes: “Cable operators are furious about the decision.” (“What Satellite TV”)

Following another play from Rupert Murdoch, the European Commission has begun investigating whether BBC News 24 is benefitting from illegal state aid. Asked to react to allegations by Rupert Murdoch that the BBC had put Sky News in jeopardy by giving the news channel free of charge to cable operators, the Commission said “We have a case pending on News 24”. A BBC spokesman has disagreed with Murdoch’s claim that the Beeb is engaged in “predatory” behavior: “It’s not a commercial channel, it’s funded by the licence fee and is part of our digital proposition.” (“What Satellite TV” and “Wall Street Journal”)

Meanwhile, allegations that Murdoch has too much access to British Prime Minister Tony Blair have continued, after the announcement that BSkyB has named Blair’s Deputy Press Secretary Tim Allan, as Sky’s Director of Corporate Communications. (Reuters)

EUTELSAT–The Quantum 24 Shopping channel is on 10.930 GHz on Hot Bird 4. German sound is at 6.5 MHz, English at 7.02, Dutch at 7.2, and French at 7.38 MHz. Italy’s Telespazio has started a new package in clear MPEG-2 on Hot Bird 4 on 12.673 GHz. It includes the Thai TV5 Global Network. France’s TPS has left Hot Bird 3 (12.149 GHz) and is now on Hot Bird 4 on 10.834 GHz in clear MPEG-2. ANN has left Hot Bird 2 (11.766 GHz) and is on Hot Bird 4 on 10.949 GHz in clear PAL. A channel from Qatar is due to start on 11.863 in clear PAL, and Med-TV is due on 10.872 GHz in clear PAL. (James Robinson and “SATCO DX”)

Afro Caribbean Satellite TV is due to start broadcasts soon on Eutelsat II-F3 (16 degrees East). (“What Satellite TV”)

FINANCIAL TIMES–Britain’s “Financial Times” newspaper is planning to start a 24 hour business channel later this year. The FT had provided CNBC with programming until its merger with EBN. (“What Satellite TV”)

INTELSAT–Intelsat 506 is moving from 31.4 to 29.5 degrees West. Remarkably, NBC feeds have remained on the air while the satellite has been on the move. (“SATCO DX”)


MED-TV–The Kurdish satellite channel Med-TV has been given a formal warning by British TV regulators for breaking the programming rules on incitement to commit crime. The Independent Television Commission says further breaches could cause it to revoke the channel’s licence. In its monthly report, the ITC says the warning was issued over a broadcast last October of a 55 minute interview with a commander of the military wing of the PKK Turkish-Kurd separtist organization. (Reuters and “What Satellite TV”)

INTELSAT–Two stations have left Intelsat 605: CFI Afrique DTH (3.886 GHz in SECAM) and CFI Afrique Pro (3.935 GHz in MPEG-2). They are both available on Intelsat 803 at 21.5 degrees West. (“SATCO DX”)


NBC ASIA–As mentioned above, NBC and National Geographic have announced a partnership. Nearly all of NBC Asia programming will be replaced with the National Geographic Channel on July 1. (AP and “TS- ASIA”)

JAPAN–The American shopping channel QVC plans to begin operations in Japan, by linking up with a local partner. According to the “Nihon Keizai” business daily, QVC and Marubeni Corp will market everything from clothing to personal computers on cable and satellite television. The two companies have effectively bought out an existing Japanese homeshopping broadcaster. (AP)


PAS–Sky Mexico is on 12 transponders in encoded MPEG-2 on PAS-5 (58 degrees West) in the 10.700-10.950 and 11.200-11.450 GHz ranges. All are beamed to Mexico, but there are extra spot beams over New York, Chicago, and the Dominican Republic. (“SATCO DX”)

PanAmSat has announced that its Galaxy-8i satellite, which was launched in December, has begun commecial transmissions of the DirecTV Galaxy Latin America DTH service. Galaxy-8i takes over the services previously offered via Galaxy-3R. The new satellite provides DirecTV with the capability to offer more than 300 channels to subscribers in Latin America and the Caribbean. DirecTV plans to use multiple Ku-band transponders on Galaxy-3R to expand its programming line-up in the United States with ethnic programming, niche programs, business-to- business applications, and HDTV. (Curt Swinehart)

BRASILSAT–Brasilsat B3 is moving from 64 degrees West to 84 degrees West. It is currently at 71 degrees. (“SATCO DX”)

INTELSAT–Intelsat has announced that its Intelsat 709 satellite is operational to provide DTH services to Brazil from 50 degrees West. Brazil’s Embratel is already using 3 transponders on the satellite for DTH, with plans to activate more in the near future. (Curt Swinehart)


ARIANE–The launch window for Egypt’s Nilesat 101 and Japan’s BSAT 1B is 22:53-23:41 hrs on April 28. Nilesat will be located at 7 degrees West, and carried 12 digital transponders in the 11.7-12.1 GHz range. BSAT, which be placed at 110 degrees East, carried 4 transponders in the band 11.9-12.00 GHz. (“SATCO DX”)

PROTON–Echostar 4 is scheduled to launch on April 29 at 23:09-23:19 hrs. Echostar carries 32 DBS transponders. It will replace Echostar 1/2 at 119 degrees West, and they will move to 148 degrees West. (“SATCO DX”)

JAPAN–Arianespace will launch Japan’s Superbird-4 satellite in early 2000. The satellite will be a Hughes HS 601 with 23 active 80 watt Ku- band transponders along with six 50 watt Ka-band transponders. It will be placed at 162 degrees East. (AP and “TS-ASIA”)


MLESAT–Mark Long, founder of the “Satellite Almanac”, has announced the launch of a new online “Satellite Directory Service” for Asia, the Pacific Rim, and the Middle East. The new service is for anyone who may be looking for contact information concerning businesses and organizations involved in the satellite communications business in the region.

There are also details there about a “Satellites on Disk” CD-ROM covering present and future satellites between 26 and 183 degrees East.