NORDIC MEDIA NEWS
TELIA INTERNET CABLE–It looks like we’ll have to wait a bit longer before we get fast access to the Internet over cable networks here. Telia, Sweden’s larget cable operator, has been aggressively marketing its new digital network, and the promise of Internet access has been one of the selling points. All that was supposed to be required was some updating in each building for two-way traffic, by replacing a few amplifiers and changing the wall cable outlets.
But now the company says that its tests in the southern city of Helsingborg have been disappointing. Telia is working to improve the quality of the service, and has announced that its nationwide roll-out of Cable Internet has been delayed until July. (Telia)
TELIA–Telia has closed down its ambitious information channel TV9, which carried trailers and free demos of various subscription channels. All that’s left is a simple screen ID, and the relay of NPR International as the sound track is also gone. Information on the cable system remains in Tele-text.
CABLE WISH LIST–Frank Östergren, TV columnist for Sweden’s biggest circulation newspaper “Aftonbladet”, has an interesting Holiday wish list, namely lots more channels on cable systems. Digital cable holds the promise of hundreds of channels, but so far Telia is offering only around 30 more than the basic analog package (still more than its rivals offer on their analog-only systems). Frank suggests a number of channels already on satellite that Telia should consider carrying, such as BBC 1 and 2, the new Sky Sports News, channels from neighboring Denmark and Norway, as well as others from Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, and Turkey. (Frank Östergren, “Aftonbladet”)
Actually, his wish has been answered already in one case. TV Chile International has started digital broadcasts on Sweden’s Sirius 2 satellite (on 12.380 GHz, coding soon in Viacess), and Telia is reportedly negotiating to add that channel to its cable networks. That should make the many Chilean refugees and immigrants in Sweden happy. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
SCI-FI–On the other hand, we’ve also lost a channel. On January 1st, the Science Fiction Channel pulled the plug on its broadcasts to Scandinavia and the Benelux, closing down on both Sweden’s Sirius 2 (replaced with BBC World in D2-MAC on 12.322 GHz) and Norway’s Thor 3 (12.456 GHz) satellites. While Telia has yet to replace the missing channel, at least it told its subscribers about the loss ahead of time. Its digital satellite rival Canal Digital seems to have been less helpful. According to its website, it’s still carrying the non-existent Sci-Fi Channel, although a schedule search reveals relays of Nickelodeon instead.
And besides an apology and thanks for loyalty to Scandinavian and Benelux viewers, there’s still been no explanation from Sci-Fi. Considering they’d actually gone to the length of creating a special Scandinavian feed, separate from the UK programming, it couldn’t hurt that much to just let Scandinavian cable systems take the existing round-the-clock digital feed still transmitting to Britain.
SIRIUS–Eros-TV has begun uncoded MPEG-2 transmissions on Sirius 2 on 12.245 GHz. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
The business channel TV8, which has strived to remain digital-only, has had to launch a D2-MAC service on Sirius 2 on 12.437 GHz, replacing MPEG-2 services rom DK4 and Infokanalen. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”) It joins MTG’s Viasat package (MTG having steadfastly out-Murdoched Murdoch’s Sky in refusing to go digital).
TELENOR–Norwegean satellite broadcasting used to be regarded as a joke, with channels on half a dozen different satellites, often using totally different encoding systems. But all that has changed. All of the country’s channels are now collected at 1 degree West on Intelsat 707 and Thor 1-3, and they and many others there are distributed by Telenor. Along the way Norway’s former public telephone company has become Europe’s third largest satellite operator, after Eutelsat and Astra, with subsidiaries in a dozen countries.
At the recent Digital Show here, I met Marianne Gyllenstein-Priest, Sales Manager for Telenor Satellite in Stockholm. And I asked her how Norway’s PTT had become such a major European satellite operator. You can hear her on answer, as well as comments on Telenor’s expanding business services, in today’s program.
Meanwhile, back at 1 degree West: TV Danmark scrambled its D2-MAC signal on 11.216 GHz in Eurocrypt yesterday. (“What Satellite TV”)
Russia’s ORT, on the other hand, has begun a short round a digital tests on Thor 3, on 12.456 GHz. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
Canal Plus Danmark is closing its D2-MAC service on Thor 2 on January 31, and will continue only in digital MPEG-2. The reason is that only 15,000 Danish Canal Plus subscribers were watching the analog satellite service, while an estimated 250,000 others have beein viewing the channel with pirate cards. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
DTT–There’s good news and bad news for Digital Terrestrial Television in Sweden. The good news is that the government has approved a third national network, which means that stations that had been expected to share channels will get their own after all. The bad news is the service, originally scheduled to launch with the new year, is now supposed to start by April 1st at the latest.
Sharing the first network will be public broadcasters Swedish Television and the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company. The expansion means that there will be room after all for Swedish Television’s second channel, SVT2, along with SVT1, the new news channel SVT24, and regional channels.
The second digital network will carry the national commercial broadcaster TV4 and its regional outlets, along with other regional stations (TV Linkoeping, Landskrona Vision), a new channel called Kunskaps-TV (“Knowledge-TV”), and Cell, which promises new interactive services.
The third digital network will relay channels that until now have been only on satellite and cable, general entertainment channels TV3 and Kanal 5, the relatively new business broadcaster TV8, and pay-film Canal Plus. (“Public Access Nyhetsbrev”)
All of these will now be governed by Swedish media law. TV3 and Kanal 5 have used uplinks from Britain to avoid the tighter Swedish legislation on commercials, which prevents advertising in the middle of programs, and outlaws any commercials aimed at children.
COMMERCIALS–Norway has similar legislation, and now there’s a controversy in Denmark, following a similar proposal there. The Minister of Culture wants to ban TV advertising aimed at kids under 12. The commercial satellite channel TV Danmark has objected, saying such a move would force it to close its daily three hours of chidlren’s programming. (TT) That would be ironic, since TV Danmark is owned by SBS, which in turn is owned by Disney.
On the other hand, sister station Kanal 5 here in Sweden has apparently lost the contract to carry Disney programming, which starting January 1st is now carried on arch-rival TV3.
FINLAND–We’ve reported before that the Finnish Broadcasting Company, YLE, cancelled its contract for relays from Radio Extrem in the Swedish-speaking Aaland Islands, because of dissatisfaction with the station’s coverage. While negotiations continue, the contract was been extended until February 8th. Radio Aaland has signed a contract with the Swedish news agency TT for news (presumeably the same radio news offered private stations in Sweden) from the middle of January. (Ray Grönberg)
Due to listener demand, YLE Radio Finland has resumed broadcasts to South America – dropped in the early 90s. Finnish airs daily at 11:30-12:00 hrs UTC on 21670 and daily at 00:00-00:30 hrs on 9815 kHz. 9815 also has a parallel beam for Asia and this may support the reception of 9815 in parts of South America and vice versa. YLE appreciates reports on the new service – to be sent to the YLE SW Base in Pori (handling the reports). Incidentally, the Pori base printed a new series of QSL cards of late – featuring the snowy curtain antennas on a winter morning. (Juhani Niinistö, Radio Finland)
A recent Finnish government report to Parliament on immigration matters called for an increase in the availability of YLE in Russia. As a partial solution, the curtain antenna used for 6120 kHz will be modified to increase continous Finnish coverage in Russia – while coverage in western Europe will be impaired slightly. The 6120 transmission is on all day as a continous service in Finnish. The improvement of 6120 in Russia will make it possible to use more targeted antennas for YLE in Russian as Finnish coverage will be handled by the reconstructed antenna. The modifications should be ready in a couple of months. (Juhani Niinistö, Radio Finland)
ESTONIA–Sweden’s MTG (the media arm of Kinnevik) has bought three radio stations in Estonia. All three will change their names to Easy FM, and reach half the Estonian population. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
ITALY–Telecom Italia, the world’s eighth-largest telecommunications company, has agreed to sell up to 80 percent of its Stream pay-TV unit to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for as much as USD 118.8 million, giving the media mogul his long-sought entry to the Italian TV market. The Italian company also said it and News Corp. Europe will bid for the rights to broadcast the Italian soccer championship as Stream attempts to establish itself in the pay-TV market in Italy. (“What Satellite TV”)
EUROSPORT–Eurosport UK is to launch on January 15, as part of Sky Digital. Other regional versions, plus Eurosport 2, are planned later in 1999. (“What Satellite TV”)
ZEE–The Asian channel Zee TV is to launch a second film-based music channel. To be called Music Asia, it will be available in MPEG-2 from Astra 2A in April or May. (“What Satellite TV”)
ASTRA–MTV Germany launched in clear PAL on 11.612 GHz on Astra on January 1. As a result, VH-1 Germany has closed its analog relay on that transponder. (“LyngSat Update”, “Transponder News” and Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
Real Madrid TV has begun digital test broadcasts on 11.934 GHz on Astra. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
The German RTL and RTL2 Deutschland, along with RTL and RTL2 Schweiz, Super RTL, and Vox have started digital broadcasts on 12.188 GHz. (“LyngSat Update” and Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
RTL Tele Letzebuerg (Luxembourg) has started in clear MPEG-2 on 12.552 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)
On December 24, Canal Europe Audiovisuel started a channel about cars called Grand Tourisme on 12.670 GHz. This will be 4-5 hours a day, expanding in March. Initially all broadcasts are in French, but more languages are being added later this year. (“Satellifax” via Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
The Spanish version of Fox Kids has replaced Miramax in Mediaguard-encoded MPEG-2 on 12.285 GHz on Astra. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
Xtra Music (the successor to the bankrupt DMX Europe) has started on Astra on 12.051 GHz. So far 70 of the planned 80 digital themed music channels are in operation. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet)
Analog transmissions from Swiss Radio International on Astra on 11.332 GHz ended on December 31. SRI continues in the Astra Digital Radio format on 10.803 GHz. (“Satellifax” via Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
EUTELSAT–When it’s launched soon (currently scheduled for March 12), Eutelsat W3 will replace Eutelsat II-F4 at 7 degrees East. The European Broadcasting Union, which current relays its Eurovision and Euroradio exchanges via II-F4, has leased four wideband (72 MHz) transponders on the new satellite. The EBU’s network on Eutelsat was fully digitalized in August, 1998, and now has a capacity of 20 channels on 4 transponders. Each of the channels can carry one vido and four high-quality audio signals. (Eutelsat)
Fashion TV l’original has returned to PAL transmissions, on Hot Bird 5, on 10,987 GHz. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
The German Vox, Sat 1, and N-TV have started digital test broadcasts on Hot Bird 5 on 11.054 GHz. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
A new hardcore porn channel called Adult Plus is to launch in late January following the UK Government’s decision to proscribe Eros TV. It is understood that the new D2-Mac channel will be run by the same owners as Eros TV and that it will broadcast daily from Hot Bird 5. British Culture Secretary Chris Smith last week slapped a ban on the sale and purchase of Eros TV smartcards in the UK due to its ‘explicit’ nature. (“What Satellite Television”)
The Voice of Turkey is now on 7.56 MHz on TRT International’s transponder on 10.974 GHz on Hot Bird 5. (“LyngSat Update”)
Eutelsat II-F1 has arrived at 36 degrees East. However, Eutelsat says it will be replaced there by Eutelsat II-F3. II-F1 will then move to 21.5 degrees East, where it will replace Eutelsat II-F5. This will then be moved to 12.5 degrees West. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
Eutelsat has taken over TV-Sat 2, and will also move it to 12.5 degrees West. The aging German satellite,which was leased by Telenor at 1 degree West, has only two working transponders. It will be placed in an inclined orbit, and will be used for data and Internet traffic to Russia. (“What Satellite TV”)
With all this moving, Eutelsat continues to avoid its claimed very important new position at 28 degrees East, where Astra is now well-established.
On Eutelsat’s new TDF-2 at 36 degrees East, MTV Russia has replaced NTV+ Muzyka in Syster encoded PAL on 11.881 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)
BONUM–On Bonum 1 at 36 degrees East (which seems to be getting crowded), NTV+ Mir Kino has started on 12.226, NTV+ Sport has started on 12.303, and NTV+ Nashe Kino and NTV+ Nochnoi Kanal have started on 12.245 GHz. All are in Syster encoded-SECAM. (“LyngSat Update”)
CANAL PLUS–Canal Plus is starting a digital package for the French-speaking community in Belgium. This includes channels carried in the various packages of the three French digital satellite operators, Canal Satellit (from Canal Plus), TPS, and AS Sat. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
Canal Plus has closed its D2-MAC service on Telecom 2A (8 degrees West) 12.522 GHz. (Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
According to “LeMonde” the soccer club Paris St. Germain plans to start its own channel. PSG will be jointly owned by the club and Canal Plus, and will start during the first quarter of 1999. Along with OM-TV from rival Olympique Marseille (which launches January 16) it will be part of the Canal Satellit Digital package. (“Satellifax” via Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
WRN–The World Radio Network is starting a pan-European network called the European Radio Network. ERN will carry four channels, in English, German, French, and one with the other EU languages. ERN will be distributed across Europe by digital satellite, and via DAB. ERN will also be delivered on local FM and medium-wave radio stations until the roll-out of DAB is evenly spread across the EU. Programs will come from the public broadcasters of the EU countries and applicants. The German and multi-lingual services will launch by the third quarter of 1999. The English and French channels will follow in the early part of 2000. (WRN)
IRAQ–Because of the American-British bombing of Iraq, the Iraq Satellite Channel ceased its broadcasts on Nilesat 101 (7 degrees West) in clear PAL on 11.862 GHz and clear MPEG-2 on 11.823 GHz. It returned after a 10 day break. (“LyngSat Update” and Richard Karlsson, “Aftonbladet”)
While Iraqi state television was not interrupted by the four days of air strikes, a terrestrial TV station owned by Saddam Hussein’s eldest son Uday was off the air for nine days. Shabab returned to its usual channel on December 26. (Reuters)
EUTELSAT–Jordan Satellite Channel has started on Hot Bird 4 on 12.654 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Update”)
THAICOM–TV Maldives has started in clear MPEG-2 on Thaicom 3 (78.5 degrees East) on 3.460 GHz. ATN has started in clear PAL on 3.616 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)
PAS–TV India seems to have moved from 4.035 to 4.157 GHz (apparently in PAL) on PAS-4 (68.5 degrees East). (“Transponder News”)
NORTH KOREA–While there’s no evidence North Korea’s first attempted satellite ever reached orbit (Japan regards the August 31 launch as just a highly provocative missile test), Pyong Yang is now reportedly preparing to launch another, despite interantional protests. (AP and Reuters)
CBS–CBS is selling its half of the CBS Eye on People cable network to its partner, Discovery Communiations, less than two years after the network was launched. Discovery has been seeking sole control since it bought 50 percent of the channel in July. The network will be renamed Discovery People on January 11, and CBS will continue to produce some programming. (AP)
TELSTAR–Five Atlanta affilates have started on Telstar 5 (97 degrees West) on 12.022 GHz in clear MPEG-2: WAGA-TV, WATL-TV, WSB-TV, WPBA-TV, and WGNX-TV. (“LyngSat Update”)
Jordan Satellite Channel has started on 12.115 GHz in clear MPEG-2, while the Arab Network of America has left 12.152 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)
GE–On GE-1 (103 degrees West) Fox Sports Ohio gas keft 3.780 GHz, but remains on 3.720. A new Murdoch package has started instead on 3.780 in Digicipher MPEG-2: Fox Sports New England, Fox Sports New York, and Fox Sports Bay Area. (“LyngSat Update”)
PAS–ART Latino has started on PAS-5 (58 degrees West) in clear MPEG-2 on 4.120 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)
ARIANE–PAS-6B was successfully launched with Ariane on December 22. Carrying 32 Ku-band transponders, it will be placed at 43 degrees West. It will transmit television programming to Latin America for Sky Latin America, a DTH alliance that includes Brazil’s Globo and Mexico’s Grupo Televisa, as well as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The current PAS-6 at that location has experienced circuit failures in its solar arrays. (AP, Reuters, and “LyngSat Update”)
EARTHTUNER–For those of you who are in to Webcasting, you might like to download a trial version of “Earthtuner”. This unusual package is basically a very large database/URL interface, of over 1000 organisations which have an Internet presence, broadcasting audio, video, (or both), either in real-time or archived. The searchable database allows a choice to be made of Internet broadcasts for audio, video, or from the organisations Web site. The desired country and station is then “clicked on”, and streaming media appears!
Earthtuner provides a full colour 3D animated view of the earth, from an infinite number of positions, controllable by the viewer! One then points and clicks on to the desired country, and, hey presto, a listing of all “stations” in that area appear. Icons against each entry denote Web, audio, or video. Small countries which are hard to see from “outer space” may be magnified with various zoom rates, almost down to streets and roads!
There is also the facility to preset up to 12 “channels”, which may be accessed by special “buttons”; bookmaking of selected stations is also provided.