History of Sweden Calling DXers

Sweden Calling DXers #2308



WRTH–Nowadays not all of you are listening to us on shortwave. We can be heard over the Internet, directly from satellite, or relayed on local radio stations in many parts of the world. But to judge from your letters, many people are still listening to shortwave radio, and in today’s program we look at one of the most important tools for radio hobbyists.

The World Radio TV Handbook was founded in Denmark shortly after the end of the Second World War. It has become the standard reference of the world’s radio and television stations. It may not include every single local station in every country, but it’s been an invaluable guide, both to those hunting exotic stations in the Third World as well as for broadcast professionals.

Last year the shortwave community was hit by the surprise announcement that Andy Sennitt had resigned as editor of the handbook, and had been replaced by a relative unknown named David Bobbett, who moved the WRTH offices to Milton Keynes in England. His first edition has just been published, and in today’s program we’ll be looking at the 1999 book. David Bobbett’s first meeting with his new audience was at this year’s European DX Council Conference in Gothenburg here in Sweden. I sat down with him then, and we had a long talk about the new edition, and new directions for the WRTH. You can hear our conversation in today’s edition of MediaScan.

Part of the reorganization of the handbook has meant a change in printers and distribution. The consequence is that Europeans are now receiving the new book before Americans (this is the first time I can remember receiving the new book before the beginning of the year).

The directory section of the new 1999 edition looks much like those of previous years. All of the feature articles have been gathered together in a glossy color section at the beginning of the book, which is handy. There are the usual receiver reviews, which are no longer carried out by Jonathan Marks and the Radio Netherlands team. Through an editorial oversight, it doesn’t say who has carried out the tests, but it was John Nelson, GW4FRX. There are two articles about propagation (one edited by Mike BIrd, the other written by George Jacobs), and another about antennas (by Joseph Carr).

The one problem we still find with the book is that there is no mention of satellite relays from international broadcasters, other than just the names of the some of the satellites they use. In fact, there’s no mention at all of satellite television. There’s also nothing about radio over the Internet, just web and e-mail addresses for stations that have them.

The World Radio TV Handbook is 640 pages long. It’s good value for money, but it isn’t cheap. Our usual advice for those buying the new book is that you might consider donating your old copy to a listeners club in the Third World. You can find a list of clubs on page 629 of the new edition.

And for those of you wondering what’s happened to Andy Sennitt, he now has has own consultancy company: AGS Media, and is working parttime at Radio Netherlands as Internet Producer responsible for Real Radio.

INTERNET RADIO–As the WRTH misses Internet Radio, to find out more about this, check out Passport to Web Radio, by Larry Magne and the same team that produces Passport to Worldband Radio (which we haven’t reviewed….in a nutshell it is similar to the WRTH, easy-to-read and more a guide for beginners than a standard reference, and very well done).

Like the Worldband book, this is an excellent introduction, telling you what you need to tune into Webradio, and giving a great taste, by country, of what’s out there. Want to listen to an English-language station playing great music from the Caribbean? Look up Grenada in the listings section, and tune in to Klassik 535. Want to hear some great alternative music (in the 60’s/70’s tradition) from California? Don’t miss KPIG in Freedom, outside of Santa Cruz.

Our standard approach to evaluating books like this is to look up the Sweden section, and see how it compares to reality. In this case it’s pretty good, but the Radio Sweden information is from before our major rewrite at the beginning of this year.

UTILITY STATIONS–The WRTH covers only radio and TV broadcasting. But there are many other kinds of stations. Besides radio amateurs, there are military stations, airplanes, ships and boats, news agencies, and many more. Some use voice, some telegraphy or radio teletype, others the latest exotic digital technologies. The best guide for these stations (but not radio amateurs) is also from Klingenfuss Publications, the Shortwave Frequency Guide. This is essentially a huge database in more than 500 pages, and the 1999 edition includes 11,600 entries of utility stations, as well as 10,800 entries of broadcast and clandestine stations.

It is also available on CD-ROM, and the new 1999 edition (which runs under Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 or 98) includes more than 38,000 entries, and connects to receiver control programs.

There is also a more detailed listing of just the utility stations, with more information about exotic modulation modes, called the Guide to Utility Stations. The 1999 edition includes coverage of the conflicts in the Balkans, Africa, and Asia, with 11,600 frequencies between 0 and 30 MHz.

Other Klingenfuss publications include Radiotelex Messages and the Encyclopedia of Intelligence and Secret Services.


SWEDISH TELEVISION–Lasse Weiss has been appointed as the new head of public service broadcaster Swedish Television, or SVT, replacing the retiring Sam Nilsson. However, Weiss, who turned down the job earlier this year, has only agreed on the condition that he take over on January 1, 2000. Until then Sam Nilsson will have to defer his retirement, and continue in one of Sweden’s most powerful media jobs.

Lasse Weiss has earlier worked for the Swedish Radio News Department, was head of the SVT Channel 1 News Department, then switched to the private broadcaster TV4, where he was first News Director, and most recently Program Director and Assistant Managing Director. He is spending the coming year as a visiting professor of Journalism at Gothenburg University, and finishing two books. (Swedish Radio News, TT and “Dagens Nyheter”)

RADIO IN SWEDEN–The Swedish parliament’s Committee on the Constitution has approved the extension of the current freeze on new private radio licences for two more years. The government proposed the extension to give more time for the study into a new system for allocating licences, and was supported by the Left Party, Greens, and Christian Democrats. Opposing the freeze were the Liberal and Conservative Parties, who were behind the previous controversial system of granting licences solely on the basis of the highest bid for the licence fee. (TT)

FINLAND–Correcting the impression given last time, Juhani Niinistoe, head of YLE Radio Finland, writes that the only YLE TV channel available in Finland is TV Finland, which is, however, not marketed there. It is a combination of programs from TV1, TV2 and TV3. (Juhani Niinistoe, Radio Finland) Nevertheless, this is still better than the situation in Sweden, where some 10,000 licence-paying households cannot receive public broadcaster SVT over the air, and the company’s satellite channel SVT Europa is NOT available within Sweden.

INTELSAT–Denmark’s DK 4 has started on Intelsat 707 in clear MPEG-2 on 11.592 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)

SIRIUS–DK 4 and Infokanalen have left Sirius 2 on 12.437 GHz (MPEG-2). Sweden’s TV8 has started on 12.437 GHz in Eurocrypt-encoded D2-MAC. (“LyngSat Update”)

THOR–Russia’s ORT has started on Norway’s Thor 3 satellite in clear MPEG-2 on 12.456 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)

SCI-FI–The Science Fiction Channel has decided to close its relays to Scandinavia and the Benelux countries, as of January 1, 1999. Sweden’s largest cable operator, Telia, will not be adding a new channel, or reducing prices for its packages. (Telia Kabel) Since Sci-Fi will continue to Britain, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially now when the introduction of digital transponders means greatly reduced costs. The channel could have closed analog transponders and continued digital-only.

On the other hand, there’s absolutely no mention of the impending closedown on the Sci-Fi Channel Europe homepage.


BRITAIN–ITV has launched its new second channel, ITV2. Designed to appeal to younger viewers, ITV2 has a mix of pop music programs, news for teens, and sports. It will also carry same-day repeats of popular ITV shows. The new channel is digital only, and will be free to anyone with an ONdigital DTT receiver, and will also be carried on cable. Like the first ITV channel(s), ITV2 will not be on Sky Digital, as the ITV is refusing to pay Sky’s price for carriage. (“Radio Times”)

SKY DIGITAL–Concerning the comments from “What Satellite TV” in edition 2306 about Sky Digital and its Digibox, Andrew Smith who has had one installed, writes:

1) It does not block your phone line. If you want to make an outgoing phone call at the moment when your Digibox contacts Sky, YOUR phone call takes preference over the Digibox.

2) It does work with motorised systems and you can keep your existing dish, LNB and cables (providing they are up suitable for digital). I have an Echostar LT8700 connected to a 90cm motorised dish and a universal LNB. I have also got a Nokia 9600 and a Sky Digibox all running off the same dish. I did have a few problems using a priority LBN switch, so I installed a 4 output LNB on my dish along with 3 cables (one for each box) and all 3 receivers work happily.

I have connected the Sky Digibox to the SAT scart connector on my Nokia 9600. I have then connected my Noia 9600 to Line Output 3 on my VCR and my Echostar to Line Output 1 on my VCR, so I can switch easily between analogue and digital. If your VCR has only 1 Line Output then you can get a multiple scart switch unit. (Editor’s comment: Isn’t the 9600 a digital receiver….where’s the analog source?)

You DO NOT need to keep your dish pointing at Astra 2A all the time either. My dish often spends a lot of time “parked” at 13 degrees East or 19.8 degrees East and whenever I return to Astra 2A all the Sky channels are there OK. I think when installing digital to a motorised system (and Sky digital inparticular) it is very important to get a dealler/installer that knows what they are doing.

I have no plans to subscribe to ONdigital. I enjoy the full range of programming from Sky: 11 movie channels, 15 box office movie channels, 44 Music Choice channels with Artist/Track/Album info displayed on the screenetc etc.

However I would NEVER give up my motorised system either. I like all the Free-To-Air analogue/digital channels from all the other satellites as well, plus the D2-MAC channels from 1 West (for the time being anyway!!!!).

3) As for the BIB interactive service only time will tell!!! If what I have heard is true then I will not be using it. I will still be surfing the net via my PC!!!! (Andrew Smith)

ASTRA–Britain’s ITC has threatened to cancel the broadcast licence of the Kurdish Med-TV for not following ITC rules (for example, by using members of the PKK and other political activists as reporters). That would mean a ban on Med-TV transmissions from Britain for six months. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”) And then one wonders what would happen to the radio station on the Med-TV transponder….which just happens to be Radio Sweden.

DIGITAL RECEIVERS–Michael Hoover writes:

Nokia has released version 2.5 of the 9600 Mediamaster software. While it works well with Ku-band satellites there seems to be a bug with the 4GHz C-band part.

It will scan and name programmes into the electronic program guide (EPG) (but) some packages just won’t appear. Eventually I tracked the problem down by going into the “Red Menu” of the machine. 4GHz C-band signals have an inverted signal spectrum relative to Ku-band ones because the local oscillator is on the high side of the signal, on Ku-band it is the other way around.

With some signal packages it just can’t seem to work this out. A good example on Intelsat 806 (40.5 West) is the Tele Uno one at 3.847 GHz, where reception is fine. Go to 3.878 GHz and the Venezualan package is listed but nothing is seen.

A “work round” the problem is to calculate the Venezualan intermediate frequency coming from the LNB (5.150-3.878GHz) 1.272 GHz and do a channel search on a “Ku” band setting. Add 1.272 to 9.750 local oscillator frequency = 11.022 GHz. (9.750 is the low band local oscillator frequency of a Ku-band universal LNB).

(Hope you follow the above, it’s just to fool the box into inverting the spectrum as it “thinks” it has a Ku-band LNB connected so it does to this signal package what it shouldn’t do and hence produces a picture)

The receiver then scans and finds and displays the signal OK.

Having said all that the search procedure in Ku-band seems better than before. What a pain!!!! (Michael Hoover)

“What Satellite TV” reports on a new way to access digital satellite television, via your PC. The Skyvision package includes cables, PC boards, and software. It requires a Pentium PC running at least at 100 MHz, Windows 95/98, and spare PCI and ISA slots, because the satellite dish antenna and LNB. The magazine reports that in its tests, the automatic channel search took 30 minutes to scan the frequencies at 13 degrees East, and once this was completed, provided two lists of 450 TV and 450 radio channels. The encrypted channels (which cannot be watched) were shown in light gray, while the free channels are displayed with black text. Among planned upgrades include a Common Interface option, likely to be offered next year, which would make it possible to watch pay channels. (“What Satellite TV”)

Skyvision is being distributed by Satcom Europe. Unfortunately their website is still being contructed.

Frank Östergren writes in “Aftonbladet” about a similar product from the German company Huth Sat-Technology.

EUTELSAT–AFRTS has left Eutelsat II-F2 (11.169 GHz) and is now only on Hot Bird 4 (10.774 GHz) in MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Update”)

Eutelsat II-F1 has arrived at 36 degrees East, and has begun regular transmissions. (“LyngSat Update”)

On Hot Bird 5, BBC World has left 10.987 GHz (PAL) and is now only on 11.114 GHz. Fashion TV is now on 10.987 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)

The closedown of CNBC Europe on Hot Bird 1 on 11.265 GHz has been delayed, as several cable networks still receive their signals from this transponder, and not from Astra 1D. (“Transponder News”)

RADIO–New on Astra transponder 35 (10.994 GHz): EWTN Global Catholic Radio on 7.74 MHz. (Walter Olvik)

Deutsche Telekom will close its broadcasts in the old DSR digital radio system by January 15. (“Satellitfax” via “Aftonbladet”)

Xtra Music started transmissions December 7 with 71 themed digital music channels on Astra on 12.051 GHz.

(“LyngSat Update”, Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”, and “Transponder News”)

Radio France International has ceased transmissions on 7.56 MHz on the Nickelodeon/Paramount transponder 46 (11.1156 GHz) on Astra, but remains on 7.38 MHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)


WORLDSPACE–WorldSpace Inc. has unveiled four receivers designed for its digital satellite radio service. Manufactured by Hitachi, JVC, Matsushita and Sanyo, the receivers range in size from a clock radio to a small “boom box.” Because the system operates at a low frequency of 1.5 GHz., the receivers use 10 cm. diameter (4 inch) antennas in place of standard satellite dishes. With WorldSpace aiming its service at developing nations, the initial USD 250-350 receiver price could be a problem. But company officials are confident this will come down significantly as the receivers are mass-marketed. (“Aviation Week and Space Technology”)

ARABSAT–Dubai Sports Channel has started on Arabsat 2A in clear-MPEG-2 on 4.044 Ghz (SR 6613, FEC 3/4). (“LyngSat Update”)


ASIASAT–Societe Europeenne des Satellites SA, owner of Europe’s Astra satellites, has bought 34.1 percent of the Hong Kong-based Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Limited, owners of the Asiasat satellites. The interest, bought from Cable and Wireless, is SES’s first significant investment outside of Europe. (“Wall Street Journal”) At least SES will have a familiar bedfellow in Asia, as one of the main customers of Asiasat is Rupert Murdoch, also a major Astra user.

MURDOCH–Media magnate Rupert Murdoch, crowning his efforts to win back Beijing’s favour and crack open the Chinese media market, met on December 11 with President Jiang Zemin, who praised his coverage of China.

Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of global media machine News Corp Ltd, angered China in 1993 by saying satellite television and telecommunications posed an “unambiguous threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere”. He has since worked hard to repair the damage — and establish a foothold in the tightly controlled Chinese media market. His decision to dump British Broadcasting Corp news from his Asian satellite broadcaster STAR TV was widely seen as an attempt to soothe Chinese authorities.

News Corp’s business interests in China include its 100 percent owned STAR TV, and a STAR TV joint venture, Phoenix Satellite TV. Hong Kong-based STAR broadcasts to tens of millions of homes in China. Phoenix was adopted by cable operators in southern Guangdong province in 1997 — the first non-mainland satellite television operator to secure such official approval. In addition, News Corp has a joint venture with the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, producing an Internet service with technology information.

To avoid upsetting Beijing, Murdoch this year ordered his HarperCollins publisher to drop the memoirs of Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, who had angered China with plans for democracy before last year’s handover. Murdoch was straightforward in answering criticism that he had bowed to China.

“I told them not to publish the Patten book. There are plenty of publishers who would be happy to do so. We are trying to get set up in China. Why should we upset them? Let somebody else upset them,” he said at the time. (Reuters)

RADIO FREE ASIA–Radio Free Asia, an US-funded service, began broadcasting to China in the Uyghur language on December 14. The half-hour, twice-weekly shortwave broadcasts delivering news, commentary and feature stories, are intended to reach an estimated 10 million Uyghur listeners, a RFA statement said. Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking people, mostly live in China’s western Xinjiang province, bordered by China, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. RFA also broadcasts daily to China, Tibet, Myanmar, Vietnam, North Korea, Laos, and Cambodia in Mandarin, Tibetan, Burmese, Vietnamese, Korean, Lao, and Khmer. (AFP)


GALAXY–The American Collectables Network has replaced Emirates Dubai TV on Galaxy 7 on 3.900 GHz in clear NTSC. (“LyngSat Update”)

A BET package has started on Galaxy 5 on 4.115 GHz in clear MPEG-2 (SR 5500, FEC 3/4). (“LyngSat Update”)

TESTAR–The International Shopping Alliance Channel has started on Telstar 5 on 3.840 GHz in clear NTSC. (“LyngSat Update”)


ARIANE–On December 6 an Ariane 4 rocket put into orbit Mexico’s SATMEX 5 satellite. The Hughes-built satellite carries 24 Ku-band and 24 C-band transponders, and will replace Morelos 2 at 116.8 degrees West. (Reuters, AP, and Lyngemark Satellite Chart)

The launch window for PAS 6B is on December 22 between 01:07 and 01:42 hrs UTC. (“LyngSat Update”)

PROTON–Telstar 6 is scheduled to launch with Proton on January 30. (“LyngSat Update”)

INTELSAT–The following satellites have been transferred from Intelsat to New Skies, and have been renamed:
Intelsat K
Intelsat 703
Intelsat 803
Intelsat 806
Intelsat K-TV NSS K
NSS 703
NSS 803
NSS 806


CLUELESS–It’s time for our second annual MediaScan “Clueless in Cyberspace Awards”. And while the competition was rough, the honor has to go to Swatch (surprisingly abetted by Internet guru Nicholas Negroponte, who should know better) for the idiotic invention of Internet Time as a way for Web surfers and Cyber chatters to stay in tune, no matter were in the world they are. This already exists, and has existed since 1884. It’s called UTC (or GMT), the time zone at the Prime Meridian in the Greenwich Observatory, outside London. International broadcasters like Radio Sweden use UTC to provide global schedules. If adding or subtracting the necessary number of hours is too difficult to keep track of UTC, all you need is a dual time clock or watch. (My watch cost something like 20 dollars at K-Mart, presumeably a bit cheaper than what Swatch is trying to peddle.)

A close runner-up is CBS Radio (for which, in the interests of full disclosure, I must admit I sometimes freelance). It is apparently company policy NOT to broadcast over the Internet. What makes this more baffling is that many of these stations are all-news, so that they would presumeably hold rights to what they broadcast. It’s music rights that are currently a gray area.

In the TV division, the award has to go to the people who design the schedules for Swedish television channels, for their bizarre approach to popular shows. This must date back to the days when public broadcaster SVT had a monopoly and could do whatever they wanted. Now, even the commercial opposition will buy 13 episodes of a series, and no matter how popular it may turn out to be, afterwards will either completely drop the series (SVT: “Star Trek” and “Star Trek: Voyager”), wait several months before continuing (TV4: “Ally McBeal”), or reschedule it after midnight on a weeknight (TV3: “Murphy Brown”).

Capturing the Shameless Rip-Off category is Sweden’s Telia cellular telephone operator and its American partners, and the Federal Communications Commission. While the rest of the known universe has embraced the GSM digital cellular standard, the United States and the FCC (and Japan) has not, at least not on the same frequencies. Which means the telephone you can use from Ireland to South Africa to Australia is useless in the United States. Telia has been negotiating agreements with American partners, which means subcribers can take the SIM cards from their GSM phones and plug them into rented American digital cellphones. But at a cost of 150 dollars a month (not counting the calls, apparently), this is roughly 8 times the cost of a month’s subscription in Sweden. Granted this includes rental of a telephone, but it is certainly way beyond the means of any normal human being.

But kudos to Ericsson, Nokia, and ATT for developing a dual-system cellphone, for both GSM and the American AMPS standard. Unfortunately we won’t be seeing the “Worldphone” for another year.