RADIO SWEDEN–We have a brand new Radio Sweden satellite channel. We’re now on the new Hot Bird 4 satellite at 13 degrees East, which has a footprint that reaches from the Canary Islands in the West, to the Ural Mountains and the Persian Gulf in the East. The transponder frequency is 10.853 GHz (TV channel MED-TV). Our audio subcarrier is 7.38 MHz.
We should point out that there was a technical problem with our signal during the past weekend, but everything was up and running at mid-day Monday. Also the transponder frequency may be outside the range of some older receivers, but the same converters that added the Astra 1D transponders to early receivers will work for us as well.
SIRIUS–Sweden also has a new communications satellite. Sirius 3 was launched Monday night on Ariane from French Guiana. After the successful launch, the chairman of NSAB, the Nordic Satellite Corporation, Klas Änggård, thanked the team there in French Guiana. You can hear his comments in today’s program.
Sirius 3 carries 15 Ku-band transponders in the range 11.70-12.50 GHz. When it is finally positioned at 5 degrees East, it will replace the 5 transponders on Sirius 1, which only has another year of life. But in the year before then, the satellite is being loaned to the Astra system, and will join Astra 2A at 28 degrees East, to provide digital television to Britain. The Nordic Satellite Corporation is jointly owned by Swedish Teracom, the Swedish Space Corporation, and Tele Danmark. I asked the Executive Vice President of Teracom, Göran Arvedahl, why they were leasing out their brand new satellite. That answer can also be heard in today’s program.
Ariane carried another satellite into orbit Monday, Eutelsat’s W2, which is to replace Eutelsat II-F3 at 16 degrees East. W2 carries 18 transponders in the 10.950-11.700 GHz range, and 6 transponders in the 12.500-12.750 GHz range. For the first time, Eutelsat will be serving areas outside of Europe, as the new satellite has spot beams to the Indian Ocean. (“SATCO DX”, Arianespace, Eutelsat)
Eutelsat has another satellite due to go into orbit on Thursday, on Atlas from Cape Canaveral. Hot Bird 5 will join Eutelsat II-F1 and the other 4 Hot Birds at 13 degrees East.
SIRIUS 2-Hallmark Nordic has started on Sirius 2 on 11.900 GHz, in Eurocrypt M D2-MAC. (“SATCO DX”)
CNBC Europe has stopped broadcasts in D2-MAC on Sirius 2 on 12.322 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
INTELSAT/THOR-DR2 has left Intelsat 707 (D2-MAC) and is now only in D2-MAC on Thor 2 (both at 1 degree West). (“SATCO DX”)
Intelsat announced on September 23 that Norway’s Telenor (Europe’s third largest satellite operator) has renewed leases for four 112 MHz high-powered Ku-band leases on Intelsat 707. (Intelsat via Curt Swinehart)
M2/CANAL DIGITAL–MTV’s new music channel M2 has started here in Scandinavia, as part of Canal Plus’ new digital system, Canal Digital, which has finally launched its marketing campaign. The new channel is interactive, with a strong component on the Internet (including a RealVideo relay).
M2 has started on Thor 2 on 11.309 GHz in Conax MPEG-2 (SR 24500, FEC 7/8). (“Transponder News”)
CANAL DIGITAL–Canal Digital has announced that its programming package includes the following digital channels from 1 degree West:
Canal Plus Sweden, Canal Plus Gul (Yellow), Canal Plus Norway, Canal Plus Denmark, Canal Plus Finland, Kanal 5, TV Danmark, TV Norge, Fox Kids, MTV, VH1, M2, Nickelodeon, Sci-Fi, CNN International, TNT, Cartoon Network, BBC Prime, CNBC, Discovery, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, National Geographic, Adult Channel, FTV, Eurotica (not available in Norway), and 20 digital radio channels from Music Choice Europe.
In addition, the following channels distributed by Telenor are also part of the package:
Nelonen, DR1, DR2, DTV2, and NRK International (Canal Digital)
This is considerably less than the offerings from the Sky Digital package (around 100 TV channels, see below).
M2/TELIA–M2 is also included among the new offerings on digital cable here in Sweden, along with CNBC, Bloomberg, Hallmark, and Playboy TV. Telia Cable put a message on its digital system October 1st telling subscribers the channels were there. Curiously, while they are now in the menu, most subscribers still can’t access the new channels. Playboy obviously requires a separate subscription. Telia’s Hans G. Larsson tells us that new subscribers will get the other new channels, but will have to pay a higher price for the basic package. Existing subscribers will have to agree to a rate hike first. And while the channels may be on the system, so far there’s no mechanism for subscribers to add them to their subscriptions.
Telia also added 15 more music channels from Music Choice Europe, which have been available since October 1st, , and are accessible to subscribers.
TV3-The Swedish authorities have reported Sweden’s TV3 to the corresponding authorities in Britain, the Independent Television Commission. TV3 broadcasts from London in order to circumvent Swedish law. The Swedish authorities say during a survey of TV3 for three days last November, it was discovered that the channel violated the EU directive on advertising, exceeding the maximum of 12 minutes per hour on nine occasions. In addition a film was broadcast that contained more commercial interuptions than allowed under the EU directive. (TT)
RADIO NORWAY–We’re sorry to report Radio Norway International has dropped its once a week half hour in English. Ironically, this year Radio Norway celebrates its 50th anniversary. English has been around almost as long, ever since 1951. Bernt Erfjord, editor of the Norwegian radio listeners magazine “DX-News” has sent us an e-mail about why the service has been dropped. Here’s an extract:
Keeping an international service on air has been a matter of debate on several occasions. Especially every time a new expensive transmitter-upgrade was needed. The mother-organisation, NRK is financed through annual licence-fees for owning TV-sets (previously also radiosets), and a general tax on radio and TV-equipment. There has been a lot of critical voices against using domestic licences and taxes to finance a service for listeners abroad. The large number of Norwegians living abroad for short or long periods have been a major reason for keeping norwegian external transmissions on air. the special needs for Norwegians listeners abroad as also been a reason for not just providing a relay of domestic programmes, but keeping a special edition especially provided for them by an external service.
Why the English programme has survived cutbacks in recent years is mainly based on tradition, and relatively low costs involved. RNI very much liked to keep the service going. It has also been a hope that the Norwegian Foreign Office would eventually see the potential and provide funding for the external services, if not for the Norwegian programmes, at least for the English ones. Unlike many other international stations, the Norwegian government has turned down all suggestions from NRK on this matter. When major cutbacks in NRK have been carried out this year, the Director of Radio, Tor Fuglevik, decided the English service would finally have to go.
Probably Fuglevik’s intention is to provoke the Foreign Office to change its opinion on funding the service. A group will be set up by Fuglevik to draw up solutions for reintroducing a more powerful international service based on fundings from the Foreign Office (or others), providing not only an English programme, but perhaps also other foreign languages. Hopefully 1999 will bring some good news to international listeners to Radio Norway International. (Bernt Erfjord)
FINLAND-The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE has cancelled its agreement for relays of its newscasts on the local radio station in the (Swedish-speaking) Aaland Islands, Aalands Radio, beginning January 1, 1999. The reason is dissatisfaction with Aalands Radio for putting YLE’s Radio Extrem on a low-powered transmitter. Aalands Radio says the only solution is a frequency co-ordination to find a channel for a more powerful transmitter than won’t interfere with transmitters in nearby Sweden. YLE and Aalands Radio say they hope to find a solution during October. (Ray Grönberg)
NOKIA MEDIAMASTER-Continuing our discussion/review of the Nokia Mediamaster digital satellite receiver, we’ve received more comments from Dave Small:
I read the comments of Michael Hoover. I have now also been told by Nokia not to exceed 350 memories. I keep my 9600 cool by using a 12v fan, and have been doing this for quite some time.
My RX has never gone into “selftest”, but it has re-booted at regular intervals when watching programs at 1 degree West. It did this to tell me that it wanted updated software.
Since my first e-mail to you, I have suffered four more crashes, even though I had not overloaded the memory. Eventually I worked out that the crashes occured when I searched 10.722 H at 13 East; the package containing Travel, Apna & Q24. However when only this frequency was stored there was no problem.
It’s clear there is a data conflict between this package, and some other package, but I have not been able to find the “link”. It is too time consuming to try. I also had all of 13 degrees East, 1 degree West and 27 degrees West stored at the time. The crash happens when switching on from standby; the receiver asks for a pin number.
The easiest way to get out of this is to switch off the RX using the remote, and within one second to simultaneously press reset and channel up on the receiver. The message “ERASE” then appears on the display, and all data has been erased from the Nokia’s memory
I have also noticed in the past that some channels cannot co-exist within the memory. An example of this is TV10 on 11.043 H at 16 degrees East, and DR1 (11.592GHz H) at 1 degree West. Load in one of these channels, and the other cannot be viewed. There are also other similar examples. It’s a most frustrating receiver to work with.
I wonder if you know of any newsgroups in English which specialize in Nokia satellite discussions? I have looked, but have not found anything dedicated to the receiver. (Dave Small)
Nokia Multimedia Terminals has purchased the Swedish software company User Interface Design. It intends to use its acquisition to develop a new R&D; group to be based with UID in the southern Swedish town of Linkoeping, close to the manufacturing plant in Motala. The company believes that UID’s skills can be deployed not only in set-top boxes, but in the complete range of multimedia products. (“Public Access Nyhetsbrev”)
BBC-The “Sunday Times” (a Murdoch-owned newspaper) has reported that the BBC is to end World Service broadcasts in German, as part of a GBP 20 million package of cuts imposed by the Foreign Office. Also dropped would be services to Hungary, Slovakia, Nepal, and Portuguese-speaking Africa. (“Sunday Times”)
BRITAIN-On September 23 the BBC launched its first new general interest TV channel in 34 years, ahead of the start-up of digital TV in Britain. The free channel, named BBC Choice, will offer extended coverage of sport, music, and events broadast on the BBC’s two flagship channels, BBC1 and BBC2. (Reuters)
On October 1st Rupert Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting launched its new Sky Digital Service from the Astra satellites at 28 degrees East. The digital system offers up to 140 channels, including 44 CD-quality audio channels. BskyB plans to sell at least 200,000 digital TV systems by the end of the crucial Christmas season. The Sky Digital boxes, including a dish, set-top box, and remote control, retail for GBP 200, GBP 160 for existing customers. The boxes initially on sale are made by Pace, although Amstrad, Grundig, and Panasonic are to begin shipments later this month. (Reuters)
The Sky subsidized offer includes installation, and according to our sources, it is impossible to to subscribe without having Sky employees enter your home and install the receiver. The receiver must always be connected to the telephone line, and the subscription card must always be plugged in. This may be to prevent activated receivers from being used outside the UK, but concerns have been expressed that allowing continuous telephone connection means that Sky will be able to constantly monitor what subscribers are watching.
Britain’s Football League says it is planning to launch English soccer’s first pay-per-view TV trial after Christmas. While other companies are free to bid, BSkyB is regarded as the company most likely to win the PPV rights (especially since Sky now owns Manchester United). (Reuters)
NTL Inc, Britain’s third biggest cable company, says it will launch national television-based digital interactive services on March 31, 1999. NTL says it has teamed up with companies such as Microsoft, Barclays Bank, Universal Studios, and the Press Association. The service will include entertainment, education, information, shopping, and banking. NTL says it is adopting Internet software standards so that content providers could leverage investments in existing web sites. The news comes seven weeks after arch-rival Cable and Wireless unveiled plans for its new “TV Mall” service. (Reuters)
Thank you for sending me your Sky TV Guide each month, even though I’m not a Sky subscriber and never have been. (Don’t ask. It’s a long story). Normally your magazine goes straight into my gash-bucket, unopened. This time, however, tempted by a splash line about digital TV on the cover of the October issue, I looked inside it. (I never could resist a new gadget.)
Anyway it seems that, for a nominal outlay of a few hundred quid up-front, plus an unspecified monthly subscription, plus an occasional extra few quid for pay-as-I-view, you are now offering to sell me a basket of digital goodies, including more channels to show more old movies; new channels to show new movies (at additional cost); new news channels showing new news, and new documentary channels showing old news. There will even be a channel devoted exclusively to furthering the commercial aspirations of some football club for which, I understand, you’ve recently forked out well in excess of half a billion quid. No wonder you’re after my money!
However, as a potential subscriber, I found your magazine to be somewhat short on details as to the specific content of all these new channels. Also, never having seen a Sky programme, I spent a few minutes browsing through the listings of non-digital fare in an attempt to get a feel for the scope and quality of your present output. I also read one or two of the feature articles, on the assumption that the calibre of your viewers can be gauged by what your programme guide thinks they want to read about.
This turned out to be time well spent. For example I now know that your target audience appears to be interested in the antics of such desirable role models as Chris Evans, Julian Clary and the Duchess of York. I also know that, unless I become a subscriber, I won’t be given the chance to part with 17 quid in order to waste a few minutes of my life watching a talented but unlovable youth from Sheffield beating the crap out of some unfortunate Ulsterman.
I know, too, that I’m missing out on a feast of “entertainment” (your word, not mine) which includes a series about sex among the British on holiday, another one about sex among the British in general, and a game show which promises to show contestants “…handcuffed, kneeling in front of toilet pans filled with chip fat and bobbing for either pigs’ eyeballs, cigarette ends, false teeth or fish heads.” (And here’s me thinking that Blind Date (or “Choose me, sweetie, I’m a pushy macho prat”), J. Beadle’s “People Falling Down” programme, and American trailer-trash show-off shows were as far down-market as anyone would want to go…).
So I’m glad I read your magazine, Rupert. It made me realise that the terrestrial channels still have a lot going for them, despite what currently seems to be a determined death-wish. It also made me resolve to continue pestering them about “dumbing down” because you’ve shown me what lies at the end of that road. And it made me write this note to tell you that, if it’s my money you’re after, you’ve no bloody chance, mate.
SKY-Meanwhile, Sky has reportedly withdrawn its threat of legal action againt terrestrial digital rival ONdigital for having the nerve to use a non-Murdoch owned encryption system. (“What Satellite TV”)
Back at 19 degrees East, Bloomberg TV UK has left transponder 11 (11.362 GHz), where Sky Digital now has a 24 hour (analog) Information Channel. Bloomberg TV UK is now on transponder 51 (10.744 GHz) in clear PAL at 07:00-13:00 hrs CET. Bloomberg TV Germany has started on transponder 56 (10.818 GHz), in clear PAL at 06:00-19:00 hrs CET. UK Style orginally shared the transponder, but has now been replaced by the TV Travel Shop in clear PAL. (“SATCO DX”)
Britain’s Channel 4 will launch a film channel as part of Sky’s analog and digital packages in November. Film Four will be advertising supported, but (in true Murdoch style) will still require a monthly subscription payment. (“What Satellite TV”)
AMOS-Broadcast Communicastion Services, a sister company of the Dutch broadcast services provider NOB, is to launch a new digital platform into Central Europe. BCS is already conducting a pilot project on the Global TV cable netwotk in Budapest and three other smaller networks in Hungary. The full service is expected to launch in the first quarter of 1999, using capacity on the Amos 1 satellite. Though cable networks are the first target, a DTH service is also planned. (“Public Access Nyhetsbrev”)
SOUTH AFRICA-October 1 saw the birth of South Africa’s first independent commecial television channel, called e.tv. It’s owned by Midi, a consortium dominated by local black-owned companies, and including US entertainment giant Time Warner. (Reuters)
WorldSpace, which is due to launch its Afristar satellite on Ariane on October 28, has signed a five year agreement to relay Johannesburg-based Kaya FM. This makes 11 African broadcasters signed up by WorldSpace, which is to begin transmitting some 80 radio channels in the first quarter of 1999. (Curt Swinehart)
IRAN-A Farsi-language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is to begin broadcasting from Prague by the end of October, despite protests from Tehran. Dubbed “Radio Free Iran”, the US-funded service will beam one hour of news reports, interviews, and analysis daily. (AFP)
NORTH KOREA-North Korea has followed up claims to have launched its first satellite, by saying “Bright Star No. 1” (KwangMyong Song 1) would be visible to the naked eye last weekend. Japan’s Radio Press Agency reported September 19 that the North Koreans said the satellite’s radio transmitter had gone quiet after nine days of transmitting patriotic songs. No one has reported receiving signals from the satellite, which were supposed to be on around 27 MHz. American experts have concluded the satellite failed to achieve orbit. (AP and Reuters)
CBS-CBS Radio has decided not to put any of its radio stations on the Internet. This is why KBAY in San Jose, California suddenly stopped transmissions in NetShow last month. The station was bought by CBS. (KCBS, KBAY)
BASEBALL-While this year has been excellent for those who wanted to follow American baseball over the Internet, the arrival of the play-offs has been a true disappointment. While Broadcast.com seems to have a near-monopoly on carrying games live, it is virtually impossible to find archived versions of games after they are played. The files seem to be on the Net, but in many cases neither Broadcast.com nor the teams involved have bothered to put up links to the archived games.
(Britiain’s Channel 5 continues to carry baseball after local midnight on Monday and Thursday mornings. The station says it will carry the World Series, beginning October 17.)