NORDIC MEDIA NEWS
SWEDISH TELEVISION–They’re celebrating at public service broadcaster Swedish Television. At last week’s International Emmy Awards in New York, the network picked up two prizes. One was the Drama Award, for a production called “The Tattooed Widow”. The other was a special honor for the network’s about to retire head, Sam Nilsson.
Meanwhile, Swedish Television is preparing to expand into the digital age, with at least one new channel joining its current two. Unfortunately the launch of digital terrestrial television here has been pushed back by at least a month, and more likely three. The system was supposed to start on January 1st. But Nokia, which is making the set-top boxes, won’t have them in the stores until February at the earliest. On top of that, several of the private broadcasters who’ve received digital allocations will have to initially share channels, and they’d rather wait until more bandwidth is opened up. They also want to launch at the same time as Swedish Television’s new 24 hour news channel SVT24, which has delayed its start until March 15th. (TT and “Metro”)
SVT24 is supposed to be one of the main attractions for digital terrestrial television here. Interactivity will be an important part of its output, as I was told by the new channel’s head of information, Leif Hedman. You can hear that interview in today’s program.
At the recent Digital Show here in Stockholm, Sweden’s largest cable operator, Telia, confirmed that SVT24 will be carried on its systems. But it’s still unclear whether this will be part of the basic analog package or the pay digital offerings. It all depends on what channels the Swedish Ministry of Culture decides to make manditory for cable carriage.
There is a good chance that SVT24 will also be relayed as part of Canal Digital’s package. (Frank Östergren in “Aftonbladet”)
DIGITAL CABLE–In today’s program we talk to Per Leander of Telia Digital TV, who explains the advantages of digital cable over the older analog alternative.
The system has just added one new music channel, with 24 hour Christmas music from Music Choice Europe. It will be available through January 7. (And is also now part of the Sky Digital package.)
On the other hand, according to one report, the Christmas Channel has replaced Hitkanal Norden on Intelsat 707 as part of the MCE package on 11.014 GHz. (“Transponder News”)
Mats Karlsson writes: “I totally agreed with Anders Thyrell’s comments in the latest edition (of MediaScan) on the availability of radio on Telia’s Eurobox. It seems like Telia doesn’t think Swedes are into radio at all. Telia’s counterpart in Denmark, TeleDanmark Selector, is carrying many radio stations. In each of their TV packages some radio stations are included. Turkish, English, French, German, Dutch and Asian stations can be heard. In the basic program package stations like BBC Radio One, Holland’s Sky Radio and RTL Radio and NRD from Germany. Why can’t Telia do the same thing?
“Yet another thing I can’t understand with Telia is why P6 International (Radio Sweden’s domestic channel, on FM in Stockholm and DAB through-out Sweden) isn’t carried on the service. SR’s P1, P2, and P3 are rebroadcast, but not P6.” (Mats Karlsson)
Perhaps an even more disturbing omission is SR’s P7 channel in Finnish, which is only carried on DAB. It should be a natural for cable distribution, as there are so few DAB receivers in Sweden. In today’s interview, Per Leander does say that more radio channels are on the way.
DIGITAL SATELLITE–Frank Östergren conjectures in “Aftonbladet” that within one year TV3 and Kinnevik’s other MTG channels (such as TV6, ZTV, and TV1000) will be on digital satellite, despite the company’s attempts to give the impression it will embrace analog rather than digital forever. Frank also writes that it is an open secret that Swedish Television’s two channels SVT1 and SVT2 will be available soon via digital satellite. The most important problem, he writes, is to avoid the impression that the public service broadcaster is in the lap of Canal Digital, which will probably be carrying the service. (Frank Östergren in “Aftonbladet”)
Currently SVT is only carried on satellite in encoded form for cable networks in Norway, and the SVT Europa service, which is not available within Sweden. Since there are something like 10,000 Swedish households which cannot receive SVT terrestrially but still have to pay for TV licences, this lack of a satellite service has been irritating to say the least. Especially since neighboring Norway, Finland, and Denmark have all put their public service broadcasters on satellite, open to residents in those countries.
SKY RADIO–Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Radio wants to expand in Sweden. Sky entered the Swedish market when it bought Classic FM’s licence in Stockholm six months ago. Now, according to Martin Banga, responsible for Sky’s international expansion, Murdoch’s company is looking for stations to buy in both Malmoe and Gothenburg. (“Metro”)
SIRIUS–Eros TV has started on Sweden’s Sirius 2 satellite on 12.245 GHz in clear MPEG-2 (we doubt if it will be in the clear for long). (“LyngSat Update”)
THOR–Long a clear PAL broadcaster, TV Norge is encoding its analog (now D2-MAC) transmissions on Thor 2. Canal Digital will be responsible for subscriptions, which will only be available to residents of Norway. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
The Swedish company Limt has received a British order for its product Planner Application, which is used to control the content of satellite transmissions to different regions. TSI in London is to use the system in connection with distribution of Sky Entertainment and Sky News to Scandinavia via Thor 2. (TT)
ASTRA–According to SES, a new digital free-to-air platform is starting on Astra 2A (28 degrees East) on December 7. Called “Multiplex No. 1”, it will include the new shopping channel Shop! (from Granada and Littlewoods), The Travel Channel, QVC, CNN International, Cartoon Network, and TNT. The official launch date, however, is December 15. (“Transponder News”)
The Welsh language TV channel S4C Digital will be the first British broadcaster to use “Multiplex No. 2”, starting in early 1999. (SES via Curt Swinehart)
Sky Digital plans to add at least 10 channels in coming months. E! Entertainment, originally planned for October, plans to start in January. Studio Universal and “13th Street: The Action and Suspense Channel” will start in February or March. Hallmark Entertainment says it’s “virtually certain” to be part of Sky’s digital package by early Spring, and BET on Jazz claims to be “very close” to making an announcement about a launch date, also thought to be in the Spring. The launch of 6 new themed channels from The Christian Channel has been pushed back from October to February or March. (“What Satellite TV”)
Sky News plans to launch a headlines only service like CNN Headline News in mid-1999. (“What Satellite TV)
BBC–BBC Parliament started on Astra 2A (28 degrees East) on 12.148 GHz in Videoguard MPEG-2 (SR 27500, FEC 3/4), on November 27, which the Queen’s Opening of Parliament. Like BBC News 24, the new channel is free, but requires a BBC or Sky viewing card. (“Transponder News” and Curt Swinehart)
The BBC plans to start a children’s channel next year. Likely to be called BBC Kids, it will broadcast for 12 hours a day, and will be available in digital widescreen format. (“What Satellite TV”)
EUTELSAT–Eutelsat W2 took over from Eutelsat II-F3 at 16 degrees East on November 19. The following analog channels are on the new satellite:
11.096 Algerian TV
11.163 BHT, Channel Bizzare
11.178 Miracle, TV Romania Int., TVSH, Sat 7
11.474 Nile TV 11.489 JSC
11.516 Egyptian Space Channel
11.554 Jamahirya (Libya)
11.599 Canal 7 Tunis
(Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Eutelsat II-F3 will replace II-F2 at 10 degrees East. (“LyngSat Update”)
Ring TV has started on Hot Bird 1 (13 degrees East) on 11.280 GHz in clear PAL, 13:00-18:00 hrs CET. (“LyngSat Update”) Marginally offset 12.288 GHz is the home of the Dutch expatriate station BVN TV (in clear PAL 19:00-00:00 hrs) and Eurotica (encoded D2-MAC 00:00-05:00 hrs). (“Aftonbladet”) Ring TV carries ads for sex phonelines and Michael Hoover in Portugal writes that this is causing a problem among Dutch families there with young school kids, who encounter the sex ads if they tune in early to BVN.
CNBC is closing its PAL transponder on Hot Bird 1 on November 30. The channel continues on Astra transponder 50 (10.729 GHz), but this will be encoding in videocrypt daily between 00:00 and 06:00 hrs CET. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”). This all part of NBC’s surrender to Rupert Murdoch and the network’s withdrawal from Europe.
On Hot Bird 5, which replaced the venerable Eutelsat II-F1 on November 10, BBC World has moved from 11.031 to 11.114 GHz in clear PAL, and has switched from super to wide beam. BBC Prime has started on 11.047 GHz in Viaccess MPEG-2 (SR 5632, FEC 3/4). The two channels switched to new frequencies, following transmission problems with the new satellite. (“LyngSat Update” and Curt Swinehart)
Also on Hot Bird 5, Eros-TV (in clear PAL and coded D2-MAC) has moved back to 11.623 GHz. HRT TV 1-3 have started on 12.520 GHz in MPEG-2 (SR 27500, FEC 3/4). Viva has left 11.006 GHz and is now only on 11.148 in PAL. (“LyngSat Update”)
Bloomberg TV is on Hot Bird 5 on 11.642 GHz in MPEG-2. There are soundtracks in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
While NBC seems to have given up as far as the English-speaking audience in Europe is concerned, the American network has launched the German computer channel Giga TV on Hot Bird 5 on 11.054 GHz in MPEG-2 (SR 27500, FEC 2/3) weekdays 15:00-20:00 hrs CET. (“What Satellite TV”)
Euronews has confirmed that it will close down its analog transponder on Hot Bird 5 (11.585 GHz) on March 31. The ITN-owned broadcaster will begin digital transmissions on Hot Bird 3 in January. (“What Satellite TV”)
Eutelsat II-F1 is being repositioned to 36 degrees East. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
TVE Internacional and TV de Galicia have started on Hot Bird 2 on 12.092 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Update”)
Sima-yeh Moghavemat has moved from Eutelsat II-F1 to II-F2 (10 degrees East) on 11.163 GHz, in clear PAL. (“LyngSat Update”)
INTELSAT–Pakistan’s Prime TV has launched a 6 hour a day European service, soon to be expanded to 24 hours, on Intelsat 707 (1 degree West), in MPEG-2 (SR 26000, FEC 3/4) on 11.014 GHz. It is currently clear, but will switch to Conax encryption within 2-3 months. (“What Satellite TV”)
Brazil’s TV Record is on Intelsat 605 (27.5 degrees West) in clear MPEG-2 (SR 7000, FEC 3/4) on 4.055 GHz. (Michael Hoover)
ITALY–Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has announced he is continuing his expansion into the rest of Europe, with the launch of News Corp Europe, a Milan-based subsidiary that will seek out media investments in continental Europe, including a planned venture with Telecom Italia and the leading French TV company TF1. The venture will compete in Italy with digital broadcaster Telepiu, which is owned by Canal Plus. In addition, News Corp Europe is in talks with TF1 to launch a cable and satellite channel in early 2000 aimed at 15 to 35 year olds in France. TF1 owns 25 percent of TPS, a rival to Canal Plus. (Reuters, AP)
It’s been reported that Italy’s public broadcaster RAI and telecom consortium Wind (with interests from Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom) have signed a preliminary agreement to invest in Telepiu. (Dow Jones)
MORE MURDOCH–Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal says he is trying to bring together Rurpert Murdoch, Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, and Germany’s Kirch Group to form a pan-European broadcasting venture. (Reuters)
SPAIN–Madrid’s local authorities have drafted a new law giving residents a maximum of two years to remove satellite dishes from walls. Dishes will only be allowed on roofs if they cannot be seen from the street. (Curt Swinehart)
POLAND–Polish public broadcaster TVP has been called a “pirate” by local media commentators, after it started broadcasting from Sweden as part of Canal Plus Polska’s Cyfra Plus digital platform. TVP 1 and 2 seem to have been caught in a political turfwar between state-owned agencies controlled by people close to opposing political parties, which led to allegiations they lack the proper licences. Faced with competition from @Entertainment’s Wizja TV digital package on Astra, Canal Plus Polska launched its services on November 9, using an uplink from Sweden until the domestic dispute could be settled. (“Cable Europe”)
RADIO–Swiss Radio International will cease all analog transmissions in a few weeks. The German and English services on Astra transponder 9 (11.332 GHz) on 7.38 and 7.56 MHz respectively will close on December 31, 1998. From 1999 SRI will be available only via Astra Digital Radio on transponder 55 (10.803 GHz) with 7.74 MHz for German and 7.92 MHz for English. (“Transponder News”)
The Voice of America has started on Astra on 11.671 GHz (Sky Sports 3) audio subcarrier 7.56 MHz. (“What Satellite TV”)
The soul and jazz station Solar FM has started on Astra on 10.994 GHz (Challenge TV) on 7.56 MHz, 22:00-06:00 hrs UTC. (“What Satellite TV”)
StarGold has launched on Astra transponder 64 (10.936 GHz) sound 7.38 MHz. This oldies station is also transmitting on transponder 33 (10.964 GHz). (Kurt Lehr and Roland Mucke via “Transponder News”)
The American radio station WLVE FM from Miami Beach, Florida, is available on Intelsat 806 (40.5 degrees West) within the Tele Uno package in clear MPEG-2 on 3.847 GHz (SR 18800, FEC 3/4). (Michael Hoover)
ISRAEL–On November 29, Israel’s High Court issued a ruling giving permission for the Communications Ministry to begin issuing DBS licences. Cable companies had filed a lawsuit trying to block the competition. (Reuters)
EUTELSAT–Canal Satellite Reunion has started on Eutelsat W2 on the Reunion beam, on 11.658 GHz in Mediaguard encoded MPEG-2 (SR27500, FEC 3/4). (“LyngSat Update”)
Sudan TV and Oman YV have started on Hot Bird 4 on 12.654 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Update”)
CHINA–China’s has chosen the South African-based MIH Holdings to help build a national DTH satellite system, to bring state broadcaster CCTV’s eight channels to rural areas where it cannot currently be seen. China’s 15 provincial stations would probably be included. Foreign channels are prohibited from 24 hour broadcasts, except to government buildings, upmarket hotels, and housing compounds for foreigners. (Curt Swinehart)
AGILA–A Taiwanese package has started on the Philippine Agila 2 satellite (146 degrees East) on 4.155 GHz in clear MPEG-2 (SR 24000, FEC 3/4): TTV, CTV, CTS, and Formosa TV. IBC 13 has started on 4.134 GHz in MPEG-2 (SR 4880, FEC 3/4). (“LyngSat Update”)
PAS–ART Australia and RAI International have left PAS-2 (169 degrees East) 4.153 GHz and PAS-4 (68.5 degrees East) 3.971 GHz (both MPEG-2). (“LyngSat Update”)
FCC–The Federal Communications Commission has approved rules requiring satellite television services to carry non-commercial educational channels. DBS providers such as DirecTV and EchoStar will be required to turn over one out of every 25 channels carrying video programming to educational public interest groups. (Reuters)
MURDOCH SELLS OUT–EchoStar Communications is buying the last American DTH satellite licence from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and MCI WorldCom. The aquisition ends a long contoversy over what Murdoch and MCI would do with the licence, one of only three US DBS permits. After winning the licence, in February 1997 Murdoch and MCI agreed to merge their American Sky Broadcasting with EchoStar, but the deal broke down. After that Murdoch/MCI tried to merge instead with Primestar, a satellite service owned by the major cable companies. The American Justice Department blocked that deal in May, saying it would reduce competition, and they parties called it off in October.
Under the deal, EchoStar would acquire the orbital slot at 110 degrees West, as well as two satellites now being built. By using 110 degrees along with its current satellites at 119 degrees West, the company’s DISH Network will be able to offer more channels and services by early 2000, including more than 500 channels of programming, HDTV, Internet access, and other data services. (AP and Curt Swinehart)
EchoStar launched a new DBS service to Alaska, Hawaii, and US territories on November 19. Called Sky Vista, the service is a joint venture with Loral. Customers with a one meter dish will be able to subscribe to a standard package of 20 channels, as well as premium services like HBO. EchoStar is leasing capacity on Loral’s Telstar 5 satellite. (CNET)
TELSTAR–Thai TV5 Global Network, Abu Dhabi TV, Saudi Channel 1, Kuwait Space Channel, and Arab Network of America have started on Telstar 5 (97 degrees West) in clear MPEG-2 on 12.152 GHz (SR 20000, FEC 3/4) in parallel to 12.184. (“LyngSat Update”)
GE–GE-5 has started tested at 79 degrees West. (“LyngSat Update”)
DELTA–Russia’s Bonum 1 was successfully launched with Delta on NOvember 22. It will be located at 36 degrees East with its 8 Ku-band transponders. It will provide 50 channels for a direct-to-home digital TV service for NTV for subscribers in Western Russia and Russian-speakers in Israel. (“LyngSat Update” and Reuters)