BBC–Merlin, the company which runs transmitters now for the BBC, seems to have taken over a digital transponder on Sweden’s Sirius 2 satellite on 12.111 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. There’s now one digital audio channel carrying a service called BBC Balkan, along with another called RLO (APID 0052), which is carrying a mixture of BBC World Service in a number of languages, along with programs from Radio Japan and Radio Canada International. (James Robinson)
The BBC World Service has launched a series of extra broadcasts from its Albanian service, in co-operation with the Red Cross, aimed at reuniting the dispersed families of Kosovo refugees.
The Red Cross is also working on similar projects with the Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, Radio France International, and Albania’s Radio Tirana. (“ICRC News 99/15”)
NATO–NATO is reported to be relaying Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty programs to Yugoslavia in Serbian and Croatian on several FM frequencies (87.9, 92.5, 102.5 and 106.4 MHz) and one medium wave channel (1008 kHz) from EC-130 Commando Solo aircraft flying over the area. The banned independent station B92 broadcast on 92.5 MHz. The aircraft, which have been used before in Bosnia, Iraq, and Grenada, are capable of overriding Yugoslav radio and television transmissions, and NATO airstrikes have knocked out local TV reception in central and southern Serbia. The aircraft are to be replaced by a network of FM transmitters in Romania, Bulgaria, Bosnia, and other countries in the region. (AFP, Henrik Hargitai)
The VOA says there are 24 hour transmissions on 106.5 MHz, carrying Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA programming in Serbian, Albanian, and English. 87.9 MHz is used for RFE/RL news for Yugoslavia daily at 11:00 AM-2:00 PM local time. (VOA)
RADIO SWEDEN–Radio Sweden’s domestic broadcasts for immigrants in Albanian has expanded its schedule. Besides the regular twice a week broadcasts, the Albanian Department is borrowing time from the Serbo-Croatian Department for daily news bulletins.
NORDIC MEDIA NEWS
MEDIA CONCENTRATION–We reported last time about a new proposal about media concentration in this country. Sweden is a relatively small country, and there a couple of major players in the press and broadcast media.
The major publishing company, Bonniers, besides owning several of the largest newspapers in key markets, also dominates book publishing in Sweden. Bonniers has been slower in moving to new media, but the company now has a radio network and Internet interests, and last year took the largest share of the country’s only terrestrial commercial TV station.
Dominating new media in Sweden is pioneer satellite broadcaster Kinnevik, with 6 TV channels, along with a radio network, a satellite subscription service, a major cable operator, a long distance telephone company, a mobile telephone system, and one of Sweden’s biggest Internet service provider.
Such developments led Minister of Culture Marita Ulvskog to appoint a committee to investigate media concentration. Their report was released recently, and I talked to the Minister of Culture and asked her for her reaction, which you can hear in today’s program.
DAB–Public broadcaster Swedish Radio, which includes Radio Sweden, is on the air in Digital Audio Broadcasting around the country, although there aren’t any consumer receivers in the stores yet. “Etermedia” reports that the government has now withdrawn the digital licences for commercial radio stations, which were allocated in 1996. This was apparently because the government is expecting new legislation on digital radio to be introduced in December. Several channels, such has the NRJ and Rix networks, had already withdrawn their applications. (“Metro”)
LOCAL RADIO–Swedish Radio’s 25 local stations will carry news on Saturdays next year, fullfilling the network’s intention to broadcast local news 7 days a week around the country. (TT)
SIRIUS–Nickelodeon Scandinavia has started on Sirius 1/2 on 12.015 GHz in Eurocrypt M-encoded D2-MAC, in parallel with 11.862 GHz. SVT 1, SVT 2, SVT 24, and SVT Europa have started on 12.245 GHz in MPEG-2, encoded in both Conax and Viaccess. (“LyngSat Update”)
ONDIGITAL–The British digital terrestrial TV company ONdigital has posted better-than-expected subscriber figures, and has launched cut-price TV sets aimed at narrowing rival British Sky Broadcasting’s lead in the digital TV race. ONdigital says it signed up 110,000 subscribers for its 30 channel service since its launch on November 15, topping analysts estimates of 85,000 to 100,000. The company also said that more than 100,000 TV sets with built-in ONdigital decoders will go on sale from June, at a starting price of GBP 499. The Bush brand sets, which will do away with the set-top digital deocders, mark a sharp reduction from the GBP 1200 price tag on some current integrated digital TV models. Shares at Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB fell one percent after the announcement. (Reuters)
MURDOCH BOOTED–British Trade and Industry Secretary has blocked British Sky Broadcasting’s takeover of the Manchester United (soccer) Football Club. The Department of Trade and Industry said it was concerned the Sky purchase ” would increase the market power which BSkyB already has” in acquring soccer broadcast rights for pay television. (“What Satellite TV” and Reuters)
ASTRA–Cartoon Network UK is no longer broadcasting in MPEG-2 on Astra 1F 12.168 GHz. The channel can now be found in MPEG-2 on Astra 2A, encrypted in Videoguard, on 12.051 GHz. (Richard Karlsson, in “Aftonbladet”) Ted Turner seems to have abandoned his policy of broadcasting in the clear in order to crawl into bed with Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Digital.
The German public service broadcaster ARD is expanding its digital service, and has decided to lease another transponder on Astra. Programming is to begin in August. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Welsh broadcaster S4C says it will launch a new channel, S4C2, in the Sky Digital package on May 10. The channel will provide live political debate from the new Welsh Assembly. It will be available free-to-air, and and is expected to occupy channel 516 in the Sky EPG. The main channel, S4C, will become available to viewers in the UK during May. (“What Satellite TV”)
EUTELSAT–After Euronews closed its analog service on Hot Bird 5 on 11.585 GHz, it has been replaced on that transponder by Livesat, which advertises sex phone chatlines. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”) This has meant that Euronews has suddenly been replaced by Livesat on unaware cable systems. The Swedish Green Party has filed a complaint with the media authorities here following the appearance of Livesat on the Swedish parliament’s internal TV system. It was turned off after 5 days. (TT) (We note that Livesat is still being carried on the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation cable system.)
The very similar Venus TV is broadcasting in analog PAL on Hot BIrd 5 on 11.010 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
A new hardcore porno channel called Amore TV has launched a digital only service on Hot Bird 3 on 12.379 GHz. (“What Satellite TV”)
Armenia TV1 and Radio Armenia and broadcasting on Hot Bird 3 on 12.111 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet” and “LyngSat Update”)
Deutsche Welle TV has started on Hot Bird 5 in clear MPEG-2 on 11.196 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)
BET on Jazz International has started on Hot Bird 4 on 10.722 GHz in clear MPEG-2, time sharing with Fox Kids Poland. (“Lyngsat Update”)
CTV has started on Eutelsat II-F2 in 11.080 GHz in clear PAL. (“Lyngsat Update”)
DUBAI–EDTV Dubai is starting a digital package including EDTV Dubai, EDTV Sports, EDTV Business News, and EDTV Drama. During April the anlog signal on 11.747 GHz on Hot Bird 2 will be interupted for digital tests. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
NIGERIA–Nigeria’s AIT International is now on Hot Bird 3, among the MPEG-2 stations on 12.111 GHz. (“LyngSat Headlines”)
ASIASAT–Asiasat 3S is testing at 98 degrees East. Saudi Channel 1 has started on Asiasat 2 (100.5 degrees East) on 3.811 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“Lyngsat Update”)
WRN–We’re happy to note that WNYC in New York and WHYY in Philadelphia have started carrying the overnight WRN on NPR service, bringing Radio Sweden to those cities daily at around 3:30 AM. Unusually for public radio, WNYC is a medium wave station, on 820 kHz. Altogether WRN on NPR is now being carried by 8 stations. (WRN)
MORE MURDOCH–Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has announced it is taking over nearly all of the Fox/Liberty Network for USD 1.4 billion. Under the deal, News Corp will gain control of the regional sports network Fox Sports Net, plus control of the FX entertainment network. (Michael Murray)
Fox Sports Bay Area, Fox Sports Chicago, Fox Sports New England, and Fox Sports New York have left GE 1 (103 degrees West). (“LyngSat Update”)
GALAXY–Bloomberg TV, BBC World, and Deutsche Welle TV are on Galaxy 6 on 3.980 GHz in MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Headlines”)
DBS–With four major satellite TV reform bills before Congress, DBS rivals DirecTV and EchoStar say they have the spectrum and satellite capacity to beam local broadcast signals to selected markets once the necessary legislation passes. EchoStar’s Charlie Ergen says his company plans to serve 30 to 40 of the largest metropolitan areas, with 4 to 7 local signals each. DirecTV, which until now has shown little interest in carrying local stations, now hopes to offer local stations in the top 10 markets. Current legislation only allows satellite broadcasters to offer local stations if those stations cannot be picked over the air, a tremendous disadvantage for DBS compared to cable, which faces no such restrictions. (Curt Swinehart)
PAS–Canal Fox Mexico has started on PAS 3R (43 degrees West) on 3.842 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Update”)
MIR/AMATEUR RADIO–A Russian and a French cosmonaut performed a space walk from the Mir space station April 16, successfully launching a French amateur radio satellite, originally intended to be called RS-19. Unfortunately, the satellite was launched dead, because the Swiss Swatch company, which had donated the batteries, ordered them removed at that last minute, and in the face of an international boycott of radio amateurs.
Swatch was awarded the MediaScan “Clue in Cyberspace” Prize earlier this year for trying to cash in on something called “Internet Time”, available on watches it markets as a means for web-surfers around the world to maintain time schedules across time zones. Since GMT/UTC has served this function for decades, the Swatch effort is totally useless. But the company turned a silly marketing ploy into a serious threat to international communications, when it apparently cut a deal with the Russian Space Agency, behind the backs of the radio amateurs who built the satellite, to use RS-19 to beam “Internet Time” advertisements and time signals from space, using amateur radio frequencies, in violation of international treaties. Swatch planned to change the name of the satellite to “Beatnik” in honor of the beat, a unit of its “Internet Time”.
After outraged radio amateurs organized an international boycott, Swatch backed down, but rather than let the satellite be used for its original purpose, Swatch pulled its batteries, and ordered the Mir cosmonauts to toss the useless spacecraft into orbit. Swatch then gave the batteries to support a damaged communciations link on Mir. The leader of the boycott campaign, Rob Carlson, has criticised Swatch’s actions, saying it is questionable whether the batteries were Swatch’s any more.
The French cosmonaut, Jean-Pierre Haignere, who holds the amateur radio callsign, is also operating from Mir as R0MIR. (“Wired News” AMSAT-FR, and Reuters)
AMSAT–The amateur radio UoSat-12 satellite is expected to be launched aboard a converted Soviet SS-18 ICBM very soon, possibly this week. The latest satellite from the University of Surrey, it contains a number of imaging payloads, along with digital store-and-forward communcations in both VHF and UHF modes. During the initial orbits, it will transmit 9600 baud FSK telemtry on 437.400 MHz. (AMSAT News Service)
EUTELSAT–Eutelsat W3 was successfully launched onboard an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral on April 13. With 24 transponders, W3 will replace Eutelsat II-F4 at 7 degrees East. One of its biggest users will be the European Broadcasting Union, which has leased 4 wideband transponders. The EBU will transfer its Eurovision radio network to W3 from II-F4 in the next 2-3 months. The Reuters, AFP and DPA new agencies will use W3, as will General Motors and Volkswagen for business communications. Six 36 MHz transponders will be aimed at the Aegean in order to provide consumer digital TV services to Turkey. (Eutelsat, “What Satellite TV” and “LyngSat Headlines”)
ORION–The Orion 3 satellite, built by Hughes for Loral, is to be launched on April 21, aboard a Delta 3 rocket from Cape Canaveral. It will be located at 139 degrees East, to serve Loral customers in the Asia-Pacific region. Orion 3 carries 10 C-band and 33 Ku-band transponders. The 69 minute launch window opens at 9:02 PM EDT. Live video will be carried on Telstar 5, transponder 19 on 12.053 GHz and 1303 MHz. English sound will be on 6.2 MHz, Korean audio on 6.8 MHz.
REAL–RealAudio changed the Internet. Instead of having to wait around downloading audio files, you could listen to the audio while the file downloaded. But the pioneer system has been followed by a number of imitators. The first, which actually seemed to work better for live broadcasts at the (first generation) time, was Streamworks, developed by Xing Technology. In recent years Streamworks has fallen by the wayside, but Xing reinvented itself as a pioneer in MP3 software development. Now the circle has closed, as Real Networks has announced it is buying Xing Technology. The announcement came a day after Real Networks said it would team with IBM to produce a secure way to deliver online music. (“Wired News”)