NORDIC MEDIA NEWS
SWEDISH PUBLIC BROADCASTING–Public radio and television in Sweden should be affected by labor action at 16:00 hrs CET on November 17. SIF, the union representing most non-journalists at the Swedish Television Company and the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, is imposing a ban on overtime by its members. This follows a long dispute between the union and the public broadcasting companies.
The action does not affect journalists, and news programming is to be exempted, which means that Radio Sweden should continue unimpeded.
DAB–Digital Audio Broadcasting is the standard for terrestrial digital radio in Europe, Canada, Australia, and just about all of the world except the United States. At the recent Digital Show here in Stockholm, I talked to Ragnar Schnell, who’s one of the two Project Managers for Digital Radio for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation. I asked him what makes DAB better than ordinary FM, and you can hear the answer in today’s program.
Digital Terrestrial Television was also on display at the show, and we’ll be talking about that next time. This past weekend saw the launch of the world’s first DTT network, ONdigital in Britain (see below). Swedish Television launches its DTT service at the beginning of the new year.
SIRIUS–The Christian Channel has signed a contract with GE Capital to lease capacity on Sweden’s Sirius-2 satellite (which GE calls GE-1E for its half). Test transmissions are to begin on February 1. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
The business channel TV8 is to begin broadcasts in D2-MAC on Sirius 2 on 12.437 GHz on December 10. The channel is to encode in Eurocrypt and will join Viasat’s pay packages (Viasat, like TV3 and TV1000’s owner MTG, is part of the Kinnevik group.) (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
According to reports, TV8 is itself suffering economic problems. It’s currently attracting only 25,000 viewers a day, compared for example, to 3.8 million for TV4. (“Svenska Dagbladet”) Of course TV4 is a terrestrial channel, while TV8 has only been available on digital (not analog) cable. The Viasat deal should make a difference.
THOR–Discovery and Animal Planet are broadcasting in (uncoded) MPEG-2 on 12.456 GHz on Norway’s Thor 3 satellite. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
NOKIA MEDIAMASTER– Jens Jensen has reacted to my comments about the Nokia Mediamaster:
“I now use DVB98 firmware, which is very good for power-users, but as of yet is definately NOT user-friendly, and not quite bugfree.”
There is already some data in here, which you are then meant to change to search on another transponder. The data already there (before you change anything) is the data of the program you were tuned to when entering the menusystem.”
TELIA–Anders Thyrell has reacted to my comments about Telia’s Digital Cable system:
“As a keen radio listener I’m sorry to say that I noticed that what Telia is offering is very poor, when it comes to international radio (all they have is BBC World Service, NPR Worldwide, and Radio France International–editor). I have spoken to Product Manager Per Leander at Telia Infomedia Television and he couldnīt promise any change within the next 6 months. It has something to do with rights of transmitting to other countries, contract problems (Leander mentions even the lack of persons at the stations to deal with??) etc. My personal opinion that it is TV Channels that commercially are the big thing, radio channels are somewhat less important…I think that we consumers have to keep up the pressure on Telia. It wouldn’t be so difficult for Telia to offer Radio-packages to us in the way they now offer TV-Channel-packages.”
We’ll be interviewing Telia’s Per Leander at the Digital Show in the next edition of MediaScan.
EU PARLIAMENT–Sweden’s Open Channel community access cable stations will be broadcasting the European Parliament live in six cities. After test broadcasts, primarily in Gothenburg, regular tranmissions begin with the parliament session December 14-17. (“Public Access Newsletter”)
BRITAIN–This past weekend saw the launch of the world’s first national DTT network, ONdigital in Britain. The ceremonial switch was thrown by Ulrika Jonsson, a Swede who’s become a TV celebrity in Britain. ONdigital, owned by ITV companies Carlton Communications and Granada, launched its 30 channel service a month and a half after the rival 140 channel Sky Digital from Rupert Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting. Unlike Sky Digital, which requires a satellite dish for reception, ONdigital’s DTT service can be received over most viewers’ existing aerials and TV sets. Both services require set-top box decoders. (Reuters)
ONdigital channel line-up
(This is at most 17 channels, not 30, although 2 more are due to start in January 2001.)
On the other hand, a Sky Digital subscription not only requires a dish, it means BSkyB has to send someone to your home to install the thing (you aren’t allowed to do it yourself), the box has to be permanently connected to your telephone line (which gives Murdoch & Co not only the chance to block your phone, but also the ability to monitor exactly what you are watching), and according to reports it won’t work with motorized systems, so you can’t watch someone else’s digital transmissions. When the British Interactive Broadcasting service (now renamed “Open”) finally gets going, it won’t let you surf the entire Internet, where you could presumeably access other TV stations than those in Murdoch’s stable.
For all its faults (like a dearth of channels) Scandinavia’s Canal Digital system doesn’t have all these controls and restrictions (although it doesn’t like trying to add new channels from someone else).
EUTELSAT–The Hot Bird 5 satellite took over from Eutelsat II-F1 at 13 degrees East on November 10. The switchover led to much embarassment, when the BBC World news channel suddenly moved, and was replaced on 11.619 GHz by the porno channel Eros-TV. While Eros is encoded at night when it switches to hardcore, before that it runs in uncoded PAL, displaying women in various states of undress (less clothes as it gets later), advertising telephone sexlines. Eventually Eros TV moved to another transponder (11.034 GHz, where it is simulcasting in both analog and digital), and was replaced by Fashion TV (which features more upmarket flesh). Fashion then left this transponder on November 14.
BBC World is now on the former NBC Europe/National Geographic transponder on 10.987 GHz. (Radio Sweden got dumped from this channel on October 1…why, one might ask, when it is obviously in use again, and our old sound channel remains unused?) The digital BBC Prime relay has now apparently split away from BBC World, and is on 11.007 GHz.
Here in Sweden Kinnevik’s cable network Kabelvision failed to anticipate the BBC switch and carried Eros TV to subscribers instead. Kabelvision told Radio Sweden they had no warning of the change, and that they were technically unable to remove Eros-TV from screens for at least one day. (At home I reprogrammed my satellite receiver in about 30 seconds.) This is curious, if not outright untrue, since Sweden’s largest cable operator, Telia, informed its customers about the switch at least one week ahead of time, and warned that since there would be no parallel transmissions, BBC World service might break off for a short period. There’s no evidence that Telia ever carried Eros-TV.
Michael Hoover in Portugal comments: “Very poor planning/co-ordination by Eutelsat.”
Euronews also moved on November 10 to a new Hot Bird 5 transponder, 11.585 GHz. But it apparently continued in parallel on its old transponder, and we’ve had no reports of any embarassing incidents there.
11.055 GHz (presumeably on Hot Bird 5) is now carrying an MPEG-2 package from Deutsche Telekom: RTL Deutschland, CNN International Deutschland, and NBC Europe (which survives only in relays to Germany). (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart”)
AFRTS was due to close its digital tranmissions (encoded in PowerVu) from Eutelsat II-F2 on November 14. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Eutelsat’s W2 satellite, launched on October 5, is scheduled to replace Eutelsat II-F3 at 16 degrees East at 01:00 hrs UTC on November 19. (Eutelsat)
The analog promo channel for D Plus on Hot Bird 4 10.891 GHz has been replaced by a Polish digital package including TVP1, TVP2, TMT, and Nasza TV. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Having been replaced at 1 degree West by Thor 3, TV-Sat 2 has moved 12.5 degrees West, where it has been leased by Eutelsat. (“LyngSat Update”)
ASTRA–Astra 2A having replaced Astra 1D at 28 degrees East, 1D has been moved back to 19 degrees East, and has replaced Astra 1E (channel remained on the same transponder frequencies). In turn, almost all the transponders between 11.700 and 12.060 GHz have been transferred from Astra 1G to 1E. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet” and “LyngSat Update”)
Britain’s Channel Four has started its new pay film channel, Film Four, on Astra 1D on 10.862 GHz in Videocrypt encoded PAL. A digital version encoded in Videoguard has started on Astra 2A on 12.246 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet” and “LyngSat Update”)
Cartoon Network, CNN International, and TNT have left their digital transponder on 12.670 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)
A German verision of MTV will launch on Astra 1B in early January, taking over the German VH-1 transponder on 11.612 GHz. (“Satellifax” via Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Sweden’s Sirius 3, on loan to Astra and positioned at 28 degrees East) has been testing in MPEG-2 on: 11.778, 11.798, 11.817, 11.836, 11.856, 11.895, 11.914, 11.934, 11.954, 11.973, 12.012, 12.032, and 12.051 GHz. (“Transponder News”)
WBPM–The techno music TV channel WBPM seems to have gone off the air. The analog version of WBPM has closed down on Eutelsat II-F1 11.055 GHz, as have the digital versions on Hot Bird 3 12.111 GHz and Kopernikus 2 11.676 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet” and “LyngSat Update”)
WORLDSPACE–AfriStar from WorldSpace launched on Ariane on October 28th. After placement at 21 degrees East, this will be bringing digital radio to the villages of the Third World. In today’s program I talked to Bob Stewart, Vice President for Europe at WorldSpace. You can hear that interview in today’s program.
Adam Anthony of Fleishman-Hillard in Washington, which represents WorldSpace, has written with corrections to the Reuters story we carried last time:
“First, Sony is not a manufacturer of WorldSpace receivers. Sanyo, JVC, Panasonic, and Hitachi are, however.
“Secondly, the WorldSpace system will be free. WorldSpace is considering offering pay per view options sometime in the future, like stock quotes, but listeners will be able to receive WorldSpace programming just with the purchase of a receiver.”
A WorldSpace press release lists a number of broadcasters who have signed up for the system:
Bloomberg – USA
Capital Radio – Turkey
Kaya-FM – South Africa
Egyptian Radio and Television Union
Ghana Broadcasting Corporation
Metro East FM – Kenya
Horizon FM – Burkina Faso
Radio One – Lebanon
Radio Sud – Senegal.
WorldSpace said that pre-production versions of the dedicated portable L-band receivers have been delivered by the four manufacturers involved and that in-orbit checking of AfriStar will be conducted during December, followed by system validation testing in early 1999.
AsiaStar is due to be launched in June and placed at 105 degrees East, while AmeriStar will follow in October, and will use 95 degrees West. A fourth satellite from Alcatel will serve as a ground spare. (Curt Swinehart)
NILESAT–Future International has started on 12.034 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Update”)
SOUTH AFRICA–On November 16, South Africa’s public television company started 24 hour news and entertainment channels to Africa. SABC Africa is the first African-produced all-news station. The round-the-clock entertainment program, on a separate channel only to southern Africa, will carry exclusively Africa-produced material. (AP) SABC Africa is using PAS-4 (68.5 degrees East) the same satellite that carries Multichoice Africa. (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart”)
South Africa’s Independent Broadcasting Authority says that e.tv, the new joint venture of black-run consortiums and Time-Warner, has failed to provide programming in African languages, and has fallen short of its quota of children’s and information programming. A report listed seven violations of e.tv’s broadcast licence during its first week of operation in early October. (AP)
ASIASAT–Fashion TV has started on Asiasat 2 (100.5 degrees East) on 3.795 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Update”)
China Great Wall Industry Corp has signed an agreement to launch a new satellite for Asiasat. No date has been given. (AP and Reuters)
THAICOM–ATN Bangla has started on 3.576 GHz, Punjabi World on 3.536, both in clear PAL on Thaicom 3 (78.5 degrees East). (“LyngSat Update”)
JAPAN–The switch from analog to digital satellite TV seems underway in Japan. For example, on PAS-2, NHK World Premium has left 4.054 GHz in NTSC, and is now only in MPEG-2 on 4.034 GHz. Numerous NTSC channels have left Superbird B1 and are now only available on DirecTV Japan and Sky PerfecTV. (“LyngSat Update”)
PAS–A new package has started on PAS-2 (169 degrees East) on 3.778 GHz in clear MPEG-2: Antenna Pacific, LBC Australia, ART Australia, and RAI International. (“LyngSat Update”)
ASEAN–Updating the report last time, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has been forced by the continuing economic crisis in Asia to postpone the planned launch of a regional satellite network until at least 2000. As we reported, last month ASEAN was hoping to create a joint channel next year. (Curt Swinehart)
TELSTAR–Iran TV has started on 11.904 GHz in clear MPEG-2 on Telstar 5 (97 degrees West). (“LyngSat Update”)
WBCQ VS VOA–The new private radio station WBCQ in Maine has provoked a flock of complaints to the Voice of America, because the new station has chosen to broadcast on the long-established frequency of the VOA relay in Botswana, 7415 kHz. Apparently WBCQ is sentimentally attached to the frequency because it was once popular among pirate stations, and station owner Allan Weiner has a history in pirate broadcasting. The problem with complaints from the American audience is that in principle WBCQ is not supposed to be serving the US.
(VOA “Communications World” via Curt Swinehart)
Besides the VOA’s division of “Communications World” into three nine-minute segments, the program is running in a complete half hour edition on WWCR to the Americas on Saturdays at 12:45 hrs on 15685 kHz and at 22:00 hrs on 5070 kHz, and Mondays at 06:30 hrs on 3210 kHz. There are also WRN relays, to Europe on Sundays at 09:30 and 15:00 hrs and to North America (on WRN2) on Saturdays at 04:00 hrs UTC. (Kim Andrew Elliott, “Communications World”)
WORLD OF RADIO–Glenn Hauser’s “World of Radio” is now carried on WWCR:
Thursdays at 21:30 hrs on 15685 kHz
Saturdays at 13:00 (new) and 23:30 on 5070
Sundays at 07:30 and 10:30 on 5070
Mondays at 06:00 on 3210
Tuesdays at 13:30 on 15685
Allan H. Weiner has invited “World of Radio” to broadcast on WBCQ, Wednesdays at 22:00 hrs UTC, on the controversial frequency 7415 kHz, probably starting November 25 with the Bhutan Special No. 966.