NORDIC MEDIA NEWS
RADIO SWEDEN– This Sunday, when Western Europe switches back to standard time, sees the start of the new Radio Sweden schedule .
RADIO BLEKINGE–Sweden has 25 local public radio stations, all part of the national non-commercial Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, which is also the home of Radio Sweden. Their format concentrates on local news, with music aimed at the audience over the age of 35. These stations are actually more regional than local, serving various parts of the country. The local station with the smaller coverage area is Radio Blekinge, which broadcasts to the province of the same name in the southeastern corner of Sweden.
I recently visited Radio Blekinge’s new studios in Karlskrona, and talked to the head of the station, Magnus Quick, and you can hear our conversation in today’s program.
On the other hand, Radio Blekinge has been indicted by a freedom of the press grand jury for slander, in the case of a live interview with a rock musician. The interviewer suggested the musician may have abused young girls. Despite the fact that the interviewer immediately withdrew the statement, the case will now go to court. (TT)
DIGITAL TELEVISION–At the beginning of this month, Rupert Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting launched its Sky Digital service, offering more than 120 TV channels and 44 music radio services. Britain gets Digital Terrestrial Television next month, when the Ondigital service launches with about 30 channels.
DTT goes on the air here in the beginning of the new year. The offerings will be far less than the British counterpart. But in fact the licencing authorities have actually approved more channels than there’s really room for in the original frequency allocation from parliament. In today’s program, I asked Tore Karlsson of Swedish Teracom, the agency in charge of building the transmitter network, how they were going to find room for all the channels.
CANAL PLUS/DIGITAL- Here in Sweden, we’ve had digital satellite television from Canal Plus’ Canal Digital for months, although the first marketing campaign started just a couple of weeks ago. This is much more modest than Sky Digital, with a maximum of only 29 TV channels plus 20 themed music channels and pay per view movies.
Frank Östergren writes in “Aftonbladet”:
“Canal Plus swept in like a breath of fresh air, and gave new life to pay-TV in Sweden. Bold new ideas about sport. Finally Swedish sports viewers would have the same generous offerings that were available on the Continent: English Premier League soccer, the Swedish Premier Leagues in soccer and ice hockey, and more. All of this met with resistance from the press and TV branch, but also with encouragement, not least in this column.
“Now the visions are collapsing, now the promises are being broken, now you swear under your breath….What’s left is a meagre production, with commentary from a studio in Stockholm. Skiing is tossed out, ice hockey shrinks.
“Canal Plus is a successful pay-TV company with a concept that works well at home in France. But in Sweden you can’t just storm in, throw around a lot of promises, buy expensive broadcast rights, and then when reality doesn’t match the map, just choke it all off. The Swedish market doesn’t work that way.
“The sports department working for Sweden is now run by a Frenchman who has already become infamous for snubbing journalists. There are still no indications of changes in the movie offerings, but you count on this being the only season that Canal Plus carries English soccer on Saturdays. Those rights are being sold back to TV4, and once again pay-TV in Sweden demonstrates its inability. At least under French direction.” (Frank Östergren in “Aftonbladet”)
One observation…the first thing Canal Plus did when it bought FilmNet/Nethold was to kill SuperSports. With it when American Pro Football and Major League Baseball. Many Swedes probably didn’t notice, but perhaps it was an indication of things to come. (How can you replace a 24 hours sports channel with an hour or two a day on another channel and not regard this as a reduction in commitment?)
NOKIA-Something I experienced with the Nokia Mediamaster satellite receiver was that after I installed the Conditional Access module from Canal Digital, I was more or less unable to install new channels from other satellites, channels not included in Canal Digital.
There’s a Dutch website with replacement software for the Nokia receiver, which among other things, prevents operators like Canal Digital to access the receiver software through its downlink.
Bert Dahlström’s Transnova, which sells and installs satellite receivers, includes a database of European digital satellite channels in its offerings. This has the useful feature of including a break between satellites, alleviating a very irritating problem when you just download stations into the Nokia receiver (you can’t work out what satellite channels you’re scrolling through). The fast up/down control goes directly to the next satellite, while the slow up/down scrolls between the channels on the current satellite.
More information from firstname.lastname@example.org.
SIRIUS-Hallmark has now begun Eurocrypt-encoded D2-MAC broadcasts on Sirius 2 on 11.900 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
THOR-Denmark’s DR2 has stopped broadcasts on Intelsat 707 11.667 GHz, and is now on Thor 2 on 11.434 GHz. DR2 remains on Intelsat 707 in clear MPEG-2 on 11.592 GHz. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
PERSONAL INFORMATION LAW–The public service Swedish Television has decided to pull the plug on its chat pages on its Internet website. This is because of the new Personal Information Law which goes into effect here this weekend. Supposedly introduced because of an EU directive, the law forbids mentioning any person by name on a webpage, without their permission. The only exception is for journalists, writers, and artists.
News update: On October 20th Swedish Television announced it has decided NOT to kill its chat pages after all, following all the media attention (and public criticism) of the Personal Information Law.
The Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, the public service radio company, is keeping its chat pages, arguing that they are included under the exception for journalists.
The leader of the Swedish Conservative Party, former Bosnia mediator Carl Bildt, has asked the authorities if his weekly e-mail and web newsletter would violate the new law if he mentions Slobadan Milosevic, without the permission of the Yugoslav President? In principle it would, which has lead to sharp criticism of the law. Critics say that the existance of an absurd unenforceable law would undermine respect for the justice system.
We have more about this new law that some say bans half the Internet in this country in today’s edition of “60 Degrees North”, and more coming up in our monthly science magazine Horizon, on Thursday next week.
SKY DIGITAL-More details have emerged about the Sky Digital package and Sky’s subsidized Digibox digital receivers in a very enlightening article by Malcolm Brown in What Satellite TV. The subsidy is only granted if you sign a contract for British Interactive Broadcasting for one year, and the terms mean having to connect the receiver to the telephone line (not the power grid as previously reported) without interuption for at least twelve months from switch-on. BIB isn’t planning any services until 1999 at the earliest, and many people “resent establishing a two-way link to the media empire from their own home”. Presumeably, Sky would be able to monitor exactly what people are watching at any moment. If you don’t sign, you don’t get the subsidy, and if you break the phone connection, BIB will bill you for the subsidy and Sky will disable the receiver.
There are also apparently potential problems if your home has a number of telephone line devices, such as phones, modems, and faxes.
You are not allowed to install the receiver yourself, and existing analog subscribers who take out Sky Digital subscriptions will have their analog subscriptions terminated. (They can keep them, if they take out an extra subscription, paying twice as much, or more.)
It also appears to be virtually impossible to access Sky Digital with a motorized dish system. The Digibox will not work unless it is continuously receiving signals from Astra 2A. The box is also preconfigured for the Sky Digital parameters, and changing these to receive signals from other operators will apparently require a lot of playing with the receiver. Moreover, once a receiving card has been authorized to work in a particular receiver, it will not work in any other. (“What Satellite TV”)
It will be interesting to see if the hacker underground can counter these measures, apparently aimed at preventing Sky Digital reception outside Britain and Ireland. There will obviously be interest among the British community in Spain. As we’ve written many times before, this obsession on Sky’s part seems to be in violation of the Maastrict Agreement, which guarantees equal access to services across the European Union.
SKY/GRANADA–Britain’s Granada Group has sold its 6.5 percent stake in British Sky Broadcasting. This may be to avoid a conflict of interest, as Granada is also a 50 percent partner in Sky Digital’s DTT rival ONdigital. (Reuters)
MED-TV-Radio Sweden is now using the MED-TV transponder on Hot Bird 4. This Kurdish channel is hotly opposed by the Turkish government (as even the suggestion of Kurdish autonomy is illegal under Turkish law). On October 14 some 150 Turkish Kurds gathered in front of the European Parliament in Brussels to protest Turkish jamming of the MED-TV transmissions. The following day the station said the Turkish Army was broadcasting jamming signals. (AP and Reuters)
So far the Radio Sweden signal seems to be unaffected. Apparently the jamming is being conducted against the MED-TV digital uplink to the Orion 1 satellite at 37.5 degrees West. (The Orion downlink, which is probably used to get the signal to the Hot Bird uplink, is on 12.734 GHz.)
ASTRA-Sky Box Office 3 has moved from 10.862 GHz to 11.362 GHz. (“LyngSat”)
The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin 1215 (owned by Chris Evans) is now also broadcast, with picture, on Sky One at 07:30-08:30 hrs British Time. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Games One, a new video games TV channel, has launched across Europe, in clear MPEG-2 on 12.129 GHz. Broadcasting 24 hours a day, it screens programs on consoles and software, tests of the latest games, game previews, and tips on how to reach difficult levels. The channel is also planning to join Sky Digital by the Spring. (“What Satellite TV”)
The Voice of America has started on 11.671 GHz (Sky Sports 3), sound 7.56 MHz, in parallel with 11.303 GHz, same sound channel. (Kurt Lehr in “Transponder News”)
EUTELSAT-Hot Bird 5 was successfully launched with Atlas on October 9. It will replace Eutelsat II-F1 at 13 degrees East. (“LyngSat”, AP and Reuters)
Here is the provisional line-up for Hot Bird 5:
10.974 GHz TRT Int.
10.989 BBC World
11.007 BBC Prime (MPEG-2)
11.013 New Service
11.033 New Service
11.054 RTL TV (MPEG-2)
11.079 Arte/La Cinquieme
11.116 TPS (MPEG-2)
11.148 Viva 2
11.123 to 11.134 Digital Audio carriers
11.163 Deutsche Welle TV
11.208 to 11.211 Digital Audio carriers
11.585 EuroNews/Super Shop
11.623 Viacom (to be announced)
11.642 Bloomberg (MPEG-2)
11.662 TPS (MPEG-2)
11.681 ABSat (MPEG-2)
12.520 Croatian EDP (MPEG-2)
12.539 Skyplex (MPEG-2)
12.558 Skyplex (MPEG-2)
12.565 TVN (single carrier MPEG-2)
12.574 PRO TV (single carrier MPEG-2)
12.581 APTV (single carrier MPEG-2)
12.589 WTN (single carrier MPEG-2)
12.597 New Service
Here is the provisional line-up for Eutelsat W2, the new satellite at 16 degrees East:
10.960 GHz Fiat Single Carrier (single carrier MPEG-2)
11.041 EY-TV (single carrier MPEG-2)
11.095 Algerian TV
11.129 Open Broadcast Network (MPEG-2)
11.163 TV Bosnia-Hercegovina
11.178 Bible Channel/Miracle Channel/Sat 7/
TV Romania International/TV Shqiptar
11.474 Nile TV International
11.489 Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel
11.516 Egyptian Satellite Channel
11.599 TV7 Tunisia
11.617 To be announced (MPEG-2)
11.623 NTL SDN2 (MPEG-2)
11.688 NTL DV1 (single carrier MPEG-2)
11.692 NTL DAB1 (single carrier MPEG-2)
In addition, the following are on frequencies to be announced:
TV10/Fox Kids Netherlands (single carrier MPEG-2)
Various DAB and Internet carriers (single carrier MPEG-2)
TVN (single carrier MPEG-2)
Jamahirya Satellite Channel
SNAI – Diretta TV 1-11/Magic TV Italia
Not satisfied with at least 5 existing orbital positions over Europe, not to mention the attempt to move in on Astra’s second position at 28 degrees East, Eutelsat has plans for 7 more spots in the Clarke Belt. The largest European satellite operator hopes to position new satellites at 12.5, 14.8, and 19 degrees West, to target audiences through-out Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Further applicatons have been launched for 70.5, 76, 83.5, and 88.5 degrees East to reach Asia.
There is a special mission planned for Eutelsat I-F5. When Hot Bird 5 replaces Eutelsat II-F1 at 13 degrees East, II-F1 will replace I-F5 at 21.5 degrees East. I-F5 will then be moved to 14.8 degrees East, so it “can reach the US and Canada”. (This is obviously wrong…..it would have to be moving to at least 20 degrees West to reach North America.) (“What Satellite TV”)
Venezuela’s Puma TV and Channel from the Spanish capital Madrid are now on Hot Bird 3 in MPEG-2, on 12.092 GHz. Also on this transponder are Cadena Sur, Sólo Tango, and a promo channel for Vacaciones TV. All are uncoded. RAI Uno-Tre have left 11.804 GHz and have moved to 11.766. (“LyngSat” and “SATCO DX” via Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
CNBC Europe will cease broadcasting on 11.265 GHz at 13 degrees East at the end of November. It will continue in PAL on Astra transponder 50. National Geographic has already ceased broadcasts on the former NBC Europe transponder.(“What Satellite TV”)
RFE/Radio Liberty has replaced the digital version of Voice of America on Hot Bird 1 on 11.422 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Radio Canada International has started on Hot Bird 4 at 10.931 GHz, sound 7.56 MHz. (“What Satellite TV”)
SKI CHANNEL–In an interview with the Swiss sports news bureau Sportinformation, the new head of the International Ski Federation, Gian-Franco Kasper, says the federation will start its own Ski Channel within two or three years. It will carry programming that other channels are reluctant to carry, such as European cups and national championships. (TT)
TELECOM-The French satellite operator France Telecom has decided to not replace its four Telecom satellites when they end their service lives. The two alternatives are to launch a new satellite in 2005 or use Eutelsat. A decision is to be made during 2001. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
IRELAND–We wrote last time that TV3 is Ireland’s third terrestrial channel. Colum Mylod tell us that this was in error. It took so long for them to get on the air that TnG got on first.
GERMANY- DF-1 is closing DSF Golf on October 31, because of the lack of interest in the channel. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Deutsche Telekom has now begun to market its new digital package, which consists of Kanal D, a-tv2, RTP International, TVP, ERT Sat, and Zee TV. This will apparently start next month on Hot Bird 5. They are to be joined soon by RAI Uno, RAI Due, RTS, HRT Sat, RTV, NTV, Antenna, and CNE. The package will be encoded in Irdeto from July 1, 1999. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet” and “Transponder News”)
RTL says its free-to-air digital package will launch in November on Hot Bird 5 on 11.054 GHz. It will include RTL, RTL2, Super RTL, and Vox. (“Transponder News” and “What Satellite TV”)
Premiere is expanding its digital offerings from the beginning of the year. This includes new themed channels, as well as more PPV. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
SWITZERLAND-Swiss Radio International is to launch a new channel similar to Deutsche Welle (TV?) in the new year. (“What Satellite TV”)
The new Swiss entertainment channel Tele 24 has launched in clear MPEG-2 at 13 degrees East on 12.380 GHz. (“What Satellite TV” and “LyngSat”)
ITALY–Telecom Italia issued an ultimatum to state broadcaster RAI on October 7, saying a deal on launching digital television could be put off no longer, and demanding to know if it was in or out of the project. Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB and the French TF1 are also involved in the talks. (Reuters)
PORNO-Hardcore porno channel Eurotica Rendez-Vous says it will fight the ban order placed on it by British Culture Secretary Chris Smith. The channel has been granted leave for judicial review on the basis that the judge thought there were complex issues which need to be addressed. Eurotica Rendez-Vous says it will take the case all the way to the European Parliament in its bid to overturn the ban. (“What Satellite TV”)
Satisfaction Channel TV, which was banned by the British government last year, says it will shut down its analog service this Fall, and open instead a 24 hour digital channel. The new digital service, Europe’s first 24 hour adult channel, is likely to be available on Hot Bird 3 on 12.380 GHz, and apparently intends to use Viaccess, Irdeto, and Seca encryption to ensure a large potential audience. (“What Satellite TV”)
Following the closure of Gay TV, Television X has extended its transmission hours and increased its subscription price. (“What Satellite TV”)
INTELSAT–CNN says it will close down its relay on Intelsat 605 at 27.5 degrees West tonight. (Michael Murray) This has been carried on 4.052 GHz.
NILESAT-Educational 1-6 have started on 11.747 GHz in clear MPEG-2. Horus Channel and Imhotep Channel are back on 11.823 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat”)
PIRATE RADIO–A group of unlicenced community broadcasters from around the US converged on Washington earlier this month to draw attention to their cause and what they see as persecution by the Federal Communications Commission, which has been shutting down low-powered unlicenced stations. The pirates launched Radio Libre Mt. Pleasant, a pirate station for that DC community. They also held workshops on how to start a pirate station, issues of media concentration, and possible legalization of low-powered radio.
(NPR via Curt Swinehart)
MURDOCH STRIKES OUT–Rupert Murdoch has abandoned plans to merge his DBS allocation with the major players in the American cable industry, after opposition from the US Justice Department. Murdoch and the companies behind Primestar announced 16 months ago that American Sky Broadcasting would be sold to Primestar. (AP)
ARIANE– Western Europe’s Ariane-5 rocket programme was back on track on Wednesday (October 21) after a launch from French Guiana, and space officials termed the Ariane-5’s flight a “total success” after analysing initial data.
“I am happy to announce a total success of the (Ariane) 503 launch,” Fredrik Engstrom, director of launchers for the European Space Agency, told a news conference at the agency’s launch centre in Kourou, French Guianan, on the northeast coast of South America.
“It was total, the primary mission, the secondary mission, and this means that we are now in a situation to declare Ariane-5 a qualified launcher. We will now be able to transfer the total responsibility of the launcher to Arianespace for commercial exploitation. … This will assure that Europe will remain the leader in commercial launchers,” Engstrom said.
Engstrom confirmed that a dummy MAQSAT-3 satellite had been injected into a near-perfect orbit — the primary objective of the mission — and that the experimental ARD atmospheric re-entry vehicle had landed on target in the Pacific Ocean.
“Ships have spotted the capsule and are steaming to recover it,” he said.
The ARD simulated a manned capsule’s re-entry into the atmosphere for an eventual European manned space programme.
The first Ariane-5 rocket exploded 37 seconds into its maiden flight in June 1996 in a major setback for the 10-year, $10 billion programme. A second test flight in October 1997, though flawed, restored a measure of confidence in Ariane-5.
“After the failure of the first Ariane-5 flight, a tremendous amount of work was undertaken by specialists to resolve the problems that provoked the failure of the first launch,” said Gerard Brachet, director-general of the French space agency, CNES.
Specialists said the near-perfect orbiting of the third test flight’s dummy satellite had been required to restore full confidence in the rocket, which its developers hope will capture a large share of the booming market in telecommunications satellite launches.
Paris-based Arianespace is now scheduled to take full control of launch and commercial operations of Ariane-5. Wednesday’s launch was carried out jointly by Arianespace and the European and French space agencies.
The Ariane-5 programme was developed by the 14-member European Space Agency to keep Europe in the race to launch heavy satellites well into the next century and eventually to lead to manned space missions. It is planned to increase the rocket’s capacity, so it can launch an 11-ton (10-tonne) payload within five years.
France’s Aerospatiale, Ariane-5’s prime contractor, said it was ready to adapt the rocket to put constellations of smaller satellites into low and medium Earth orbits for the booming market in worldwide mobile communications — a market Ariane has so far had little success in cracking. (Reuters)
You can watch video of the launch from the BBC.
LONG MARCH CRITICISM–Meanwhile, there’s criticism in the United States about the launching of American-made satellites on Chinese, Russian, and Ukrainean rockets.
On October 21, in the second of two reports on global communications, NPR’s Dan Charles examines how communications companies are using rockets built in China, Russia, and Ukraine to launch their satellites into orbit. American companies are unable to keep up with the huge demand for satellite launches, so they turn to other countries. Critics of the practice say these private companies are giving away rocket technology that could be used against the United States in the future. (NPR)
Note that a spokesman for Iridium in this report claims that the Chinese Long March rocket has never had a failure. If you’ve read these bulletins for any length of time you will recall several recent Long March failures, which in every case the Chinese immediately blamed on someone else….in one case charging that some unnamed foreign power had shot down the Long March with another rocket.