NORDIC MEDIA NEWS
MED-TV–First of all, news about the satellite transponder that carries Radio Sweden to Europe. The TV station there has been the Kurdish channel Med-TV. On March 22nd the British authorities suspended broadcasts from the channel for carrying programming inciting violence in Turkey, while considering what action to take. On April 23rd the Independent Television Commission made its final ruling and revoked Med-TV’s licence completely. (Reuters, AP)
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has hailed the decision, while a spokesman for Med-TV says it is looking for alternatives, either broadcasting from another country, or under another name. (AFP, Reuters)
Meanwhile, on Hot Bird 4 on 10.853 GHz, there are now color bars instead of
a message of explanation from Med-TV. Radio Sweden sound continues as usual
on 7.38 MHz. But it’s unclear what happens next.
DTT–There have been digital satellite TV broadcasts aimed at Scandinavia for about two years now, and Sweden’s largest cable provider has offered digital channels for more than a year. Digital Terrestrial Television broadcasts, that is over the airwaves rather than via satellite or cable, began here on April 1st. While more than a dozen digital channels are promised, so far the only new station available is SVT24, public broadcaster Swedish Television’s answer to CNN. In a press release, the company says 8 percent of Swedish households have seen the new channel at some point during its short history. But that’s mostly because until recently SVT24 was rebroadcast for a few hours a day over the analog network. Swedish Television estimates that 50,000 terrestrial digital decoders have been sold so far. (SVT, TT)
But what is the point of terrestrial digital television, when there are already well-established satellite and cable alternatives? I put that question to Minister of Culture Marita Ulvskog, and you can hear her answer in today’s program.
One reason the government supports digital terrestrial TV is because it gives public broadcaster Swedish Television a strong position against the handful of commercial rivals, both domestic and foreign, granted licences. Another reason is because the terrestrial channels are governed by Swedish broadcast laws, which ban advertising aimed at children, as well as advertising for alcohol and tobacco products, and place controls on the level of violence in programs.
Some commercial Swedish TV channels actually broadcast via satellite from Britain, in order to avoid the Swedish legislation. And there’s concern about this. According to a recent survey, 6 Swedish TV channels spend more time on violent programming than on sports, and that in just one week, murder sequences accounted for 12 hours of TV time. Talking to reporter Azariah Kiros, Ann-Katrin Agebäck of the Ministry of Culture put the blame squarely on the commercial satellite channels, and her comments are in today’s program.
Journalism Professor Lennart Weibull of Gothenburg University has served as advisor to the Church of Sweden’s Media Study. Digital radio and TV channels have been high on the agenda, but Professor Weibull has advised the Church to wait, as digital TV is still undeveloped in Sweden, and since the Church’s active members are older than the average population, digital access will reach them even later. (“Public Access Newsletter”)
CANAL DIGITAL–Canal Digital has apparently lost more than USD 60 million so far on its digital operations to Scandinavia. Altogether the joint platform between Canal Plus and Telenor has around 400,000 subscribers, of which just 50,000 subscribe to the digital package (20,000 of these are in Sweden). (“Public Access Newsletter”)
DIGITAL SUBSCRIBERS–So there are 50,000 DTT decoders in Sweden, and 20,000 subscribers to digital satellite. When we asked Telia how many households had signed up for the digital cable service, they declined to give a figure. As a comparison, in the United States, with 100 million TV households, so far there are only 20,000 digital set-top boxes. (“Chicago Tribune” via “Public Access Newsletter”)
FAST INTERNET–The Swedish news agency TT says that Internet Television is the next attraction coming to your computer. But for this to work, you have to have very fast Internet connections. Last month, Stockholm’s largest cable network , Stjaern-TV, rolled out its Internet service for subscribers, offering connections at 500 kilobits a second, around 10 times the speed of the fastest telephone modem. The largest cable provider in the country, Telia, has delayed the start of its Internet offerings until July, and even then, landlords and home owners will have to pay for an expensive upgrading of their building networks. (TT, IDG.SE and Telia)
SVT–Swedish Television’s news channel SVT 24 is extensively using the
Internet, including newcast videoclips. But the public broadcaster has been
stalled in its plans to put images online from a weather camera on its roof.
The kind of webcam photos that are very common among American local TV
stations, are apparently considered illegal surveilance by a Stockholm
court. This is unexpected, as the number of video surveilance cameras has
exploded in Stockholm in the last couple of years, for example in the subway
and in stores. SVT24 is appealing the decision.
Meanwhile, if you want to see Stockholm, there are already several webcams in operation, including the one on the roof next door to Swedish Television, here at Swedish Radio.
ÅLAND–Last Fall, the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) suspended its agreement with Ålands Radio in the (Swedish-speaking) semi-autonomous Åland Islands, to provide news four times a day from YLE’s Swedish language channel Radio Vega. The reason was because of YLE’s dissatisfaction that its youth channel Radio Extrem was only carried on a 100 watt transmitter, while other public service channels in Åland have 7-10 kW transmitters. After long negotiations, an agreement was reached on April 29, in which two new relay transmitters, in Mariahamn and Hammarland, will carry Radio Extrem. These are to be in operation by November 1, and Ålands Radio has access to newscasts from Radio Vega for another four years. (Ray Grönberg)
FINLAND–The Finnish government has approved 7 so-called special radio concessions and 68 local radio licences for analog broadcasting through the end of 2006. Among the special radio concessions are licences for a Russian-language channel, a jazz music station, and a station aimed at promoting tourism in Lappland. (“Medier i Norden” via “Public Access Newsletter”)
EROTICA–Eurotica/Torrid TV has moved from 11.592 GHz on Intelsat 707 to 12.456 Ghz on Thor 3, both at 1 degree West. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”) Torrid TV has also moved to a more powerful transponder on Hot Bird 5 at 11.010 GHz, which it shares with the phone-sex trailer service Venus TV, which broadcasts during the day. (“What Satellite TV”)
EURO QUOTAS–The European Commission has finally conceded that its controversial demand for program quotas, to keep cheap American programs from dominating European TV, may be obsolete in the digital age. That message emerged as the commission sifted through the responses of 270 broadcasters and regulators on the convergence of the telecom, media, and information technology sectors. (“What Satellite TV”)
BRITAIN–Channel 4 has started a part-time sports channel in both analog and digital forms, called Four Extra. It provides occasional sports coverage when programs on the terrestrial service over schedules. Availlabel free of charge during the daytime hours before Film Four, it will be used during the Summer to show domestic cricket coverage and horse racing. Channel 4 may eventually make the service a full-time sports channel, but says it has no immediate plans for this. (“What Satellite TV”)
The Money Channel is to start broadcasts to Britain in November. The owners of this satellite and cable channel are actor/singer Adam Faith and financier Paul Killik. It will broadcast for 12 hours a day Monday to Friday, while the Stock Market is open, and will also broadcast on weekend mornings. Regarding existing channels CNBC and Bloomberg as too focused on business people, the Money Channel will be aimed at a broader audience, covering pensions and credit cards, how to manage debt, etc., and hopes to be part of Sky Digital. (“What Satellite TV” and Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Flextech (owner of Bravo and UK Gold) is to launch an entertainment preview
channel this Summer called Scene One TV. The 24 hour channel will carry film
trailers, TV previews, and interactive local listings. It will be part of
Sky Digital from July. Flextech is also starting an Infomercial channel
called Screenshop, to compete with QVC and Shop! (“What Satellite TV”)
SKY–Sky Soap is shutting down and The History Channel is to be given extra analog hours, expanding its schedule so that it starts at noon British time. Sky Soap’s ratings were usually less than 0.1 percent of the total share. The closure puts strain on GSkyB, the joint venture between Granada and Sky. Talk TV has also closed and the four part-time channels Home and Garden, Health and Beauty, Food and Wine, and High Street were merged to create Granada Breeze. Also Granada owns a 50 percent stake in DTT service ONDigital (which as far as Sky Digital is concerned is “The Enemy”). (“What Satellite TV”) The Sky Entertainment channel to Scandinavia (which consisted solely of Granada programming) recently closed down.
An over-the-air software upgrade has caused scores of problems for Sky Digital viewers. Some Amstrad and Grundig Digibox owners have reported losing reception of all their channels, while others have suffered significant drop-outs. Pace boxes are still awaiting an upgrade. (“What Satellite TV”)
Rupert Murdoch’s Middle Eastern service Star Select says it is talking to
BSkyB about providing three of its channels to the Sky Digital line-up. One
is a sports channel, and the others are general entertainment services.
(“What Satellite TV”)
NO MERGER–Merger talks between British Sky Broadcasting and Canal Plus were called off after the French company said it would want “a dominant position in the potential alliance”. (“What Satellite TV”)
The proposed merger between Spain’s Via Digital and Canal Satellite has been called off, because of a row over soccer TV rights. (“What Satellite TV”)
LESSER MERGER–Rupert Murdoch finally gained a fotthold in the Italian pay-TV market on April 27, sealing a deal to buy 35 percent of Italy’s second digital television operator Stream from Telecom Italia. News Corp, hungry for the rights to screen Italian soccer, had wanted much more of Stream. A deal last year to buy 60 percent fell through after the Italian government passed legislation limiting how much soccer a single digital operator was allowed to carry. (Reuters)
ITALY–On April 26 Italian public broadcaster RAI started the country’s first 24 hour news channel, RAI News 24. It is being carried on satellite, via Hot Bird 2 as part of the RAI MPEG-2 package on 11.804 GHz. RAI News 24 is also being relayed on the terrestrial RAI 3 channel for two and a half hours every morning. (AP and “Lyngemark Satellite Chart”)
There is no streaming video there, however, just a trailer for the channel recorded in the Microsoft ASF-format.
GERMANY–Premiere has received permission to start 7 digital themed channels for broadcast via Astra: Premier Fun TV, Premier Crime TV, Premier Golden TV, Premier Sport, Premier Sport Plus, Premier Gold, and Premier Comedy. There are further plans for: Premier PPV, Premier Infokanal, Premier Adventure, Premier Erotic, Premier Science Fiction, Premier Blockbuster, Premier Kids, and Premier Romance. Premier witll be closing its analog services in the year 2001. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Public service channel ZDF says it will launch a theater channel as part of its free-to-air digital package on Astra at the end of this year. (“What Satellite TV”)
FRANCE–On April 21, the French Cabinet approved a re-worked bill to cut advertising on public television, though not as sharply as originally planned. The bill, due to be debated in parliament on May 18, now calls for no more than eight minutes per hour of ads instead the current 12 minutes on public general entertainment channels France 2 and France 3. An earlier bill which would have cut public television advertising to five minutes per hour from next January was dropped, partly because the ruling Socialists opposed creating windfall profits for private TV stations from advertising banned from the public channels. The bill also gives satellite stations the same status as cable channels, giving them a legal framework for the firs time. (Reuters)
To Scandinavians, advertising on public service channels is an oxymoron. Like the BBC in Britain, public service channels here are funded by licence fees, and it would be repugnant to Swedish Social Democrats to permit any commercials.
ASTRA–BBC World is reported to have started on Astra 1F. (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart–Headlines”). Presumeably this is in MPEG-2, but it isn’t listed yet on the Lyngemark Satellite Chart!
BALKANS–Following the NATO bombing, Serbia’s RTS Sat left both terrestrial transmissions and Eutelsat II-F2 11.598 GHz, returning four hours later. After more attacks, the station went off the air for the second time in three days, and returned to the air on April 25 at 16:00 hrs CET. (“What Satellite TV”, “Satellite TV Video”, and Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Because of the NATO bombing, Radio-Television Pink from Belgrade delayed the launch of its 24 hour digital satellite service on Eutelsat II-F2 on 11.581 GHz. (Gaga Markovic, “Satellite TV Video”)
High Hungarian government circles have admited that the NATO airplanes broadcasting programs to Yugoslavia use Hungarian airspace, but the planes are taking off from outside Hungary. According to a Hungarian newspaper, international law does not allow radio or TV broadcasts from airplanes. (Henrik Hargitai)
Europe by Satellite is carrying a number of services to the Balkans. This
includes 5 hours a day of the Southeast Europe service from Radio France
International , 24 hours a day of programs from the BBC Serbia, Croatian,
and Albanian services, and Deutsche Welle’s Southeast Europe program between
07:00 and 22:30 hrs (CET?), with the exception of live EU news coverage.
EbS is carried on Hot Bird 3 (13 degrees East) on 12.111 GHz. (“Satellite TV Video” and “Lyngemark Satellite Chart”)
EUTELSAT–Once again Fashion TV has left the analog world, and is no longer on Hot Bird 5 on 10.989 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)
CNBC has closed down its analog transmissions on Hot Bird 1 on 11.262 GHz. Analog relays continue on Astra, but these are encrypted in Videocrypt (as part of British Sky Broadcasting) between 00:00 and 06:00 hrs. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
TV Bulgaria has started on Hot Bird 5 (11.096 GHz in PAL) and Eutelsat II-F2 (11.052 GHz in MPEG-2). (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart” and “Satelit TV Video”)
On Hot Bird 3, Nigeria’s AIT International has started on 12.111 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Update”)
Besides confronting Astra over 28.2 degrees East, Eutelsat is taking on Loral-Orion at the other end of its sky, by reinforcing its presence at 12.5 degrees West with a new satellite called Atlantic Bird 1. This will carry 20 transponders in the Ku-band, with beams to the Americas and Europe. The slot has been occupied by the aging Eutelsat I-F5 since February. Atlantic Bird is to launch in 2001. In the meantime, a Eutelsat II satellite will be repositioned to 12.5 degrees West. The conflict willcome when Loral’s Orion 2 satellite is launched to nearby 12 degrees West, due in August, 1999. (Curt Swinehart and Eutelsat)
INTELSAT–Music Choice Europe has left Intelsat 605 (25.5 degrees West) 11.554 GHz (MPEG-2). (“LyngSat Update”)
LUCH–Luch 1 (77 degrees East) failed on April 1. (“LyngSat Update”)
EUTELSAT– CanalSatellite Reunion has started to use Eutelsat W2 (16 degrees East) on 11.535 GHz, in MPEG-2/Mediaguard. (“LyngSat Update”)
BHUTAN–Bhutan is ending its ban on television, and starting its own network. Broadcasting will begin on June 2, the 25th anniversary of the coronation of King Jigme SingyeWangchuck, but initially only in the capital Thimpu. Bhutan has taken extreme measures to preserve its culture. Satellite dishes are outlawed, although the rule is widely violated. Vdieo rental stores, however, are legal and popular. A spokesman for the Bhutan Broadcasting Service said the TV nework would be a public service channel, showing educational and information programs, and traditional Bhutanese arts. The service is expected to broadcast in the national language Dzongkha, and English. Rebroadcasitng of material from international channels will be allowed later, according to the official weekly “Kuensel”. (AP and Reuters)
PAS–On PAS-8 (166 degrees East), CNN International Asia has switched from NTSC to clear MPEG-2 on 3.780 GHz. (“LyngSat Update”)
INSAT–Insat 2E is testing at 83 degrees East. Intelsat has leased 11 transponders on the satellite, the first time India’s state-run space program has leased out its satellite facilities. Large companies in Russia will use Insat 2E to communicate between their offices. Some private Indian TV broadcasters will also be using Intelsat’s capacity on the satellite. (Reuters and “LyngSat Update”)
BBC–BBC America, launched by the BBC and Discovery, has surpassed expectations in its first year, and should reach critical mass by the end of this year, according to top executives. The pay-TV channel has secured distribution in nine million homes, and expects to reach 13 million US homes over the next 6 to 8 months. According to Discovery Chairman John Hendricks, that would give it critical mass to attract audience ratings and advertising revenues. BBC America is mainly available by digital satellite TV. (Reuters)
This Summer, the two largest public radio entities in the United States, National Public Radio and Minnesota Public Radio, will launch a collaborative online network, ending a long history of antagonism between the two. The new online network will also help stations incorporate national and regional programming into their local web sites, create enhanced content services for users, and provide online commerce opportunities. (Pennsylvania State University “Daily Collegian” via Curt Swinehart)
NEW CHANNELS–Among new cable channels planned for the US: The CEO Channel, Baby Channel, Chop TV (action war games), GETv Program Network (TV and computer games), Recovery Channel (for people recovering from behavior disorders), Love Network (about positive relationships and self-fulfillment) , Enrichment Channel (about the same), the Football Network, the Anti-Aging Network, Senior Citizens Televison Network, American Legal Network, Conservative Television Network, the Local News Network, Premier Horse Network, and the Puppy Channel. (“Chicago Tribune” via “Public Access Newsletter”)
NSS K–On what used to be called Intelsat-K (21.5 degrees West), Future TV Americas has started on 11.927 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Update”)
GALAXY–A new package has started on Galaxy 6 (99 degrees West) on 3.980 GHz, in clear MPEG-2: BBC World, Bloomberg TV US, and Deutsche Welle TV. (“LyngSat Update”)
SPACENET–On Spacenet 3R (83 degrees West), WGBH-TV (PBS Boston) has replaced WSBK-TV (UPN Boston) on 3.785 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Update”)
INTELSAT–The British Telecom package on Hot Bird 4, 10.723 GHz is relayed on Intelsat 805 (55.5 degrees West) on 4.140 GHz in MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Update”)
SOLIDARIDAD–Mexico’s Solidaridad 1 satellite failed on April 28, returned to operation the following day, and failed again on May 1. Satelites Mexicanos said the second fault was unrelated to the problem that made the satellite spin on the 28th. The second outage cut off radio pagers in Mexico, but did not affect the Satmex cellular telephone system. (Reuters and “Lyngemark Satellite Chart–Headlines”)
PAS–Sky Colombia has moved from PAS 3R and PAS 6 to PAS 6B. Sky Brazil has left PAS 3R and has started to use PAS 6B. All of these satellites are at 43 degrees West. (“LyngSat Update”)
INTELSAT–CanalSatellite Antilles has started to used 11.618 GHz in MPEG-2/Mediaguard on Intelsat 801 (31.5 degrees West). (“LyngSat Update”)
ATLAS–Eutelsat W3 was successfully launched on April 12. It replaces Eutelsat II-F4M at 7 degrees East, and is expected to be in service by the middle of this month. It’s 18 transponders will relay only digital signals, and among those leasing transponder are the EBU, Reuters, AFP, DPA, General Motors, and Volkswagen. Six transponders will be used for digital television for Turkey. (“LyngSat Update” and Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
ARIANE–The launch of NSS K-TV scheduled for April 28 has been postponed until May 19. NewSkies Satellites requested extra time to carry out in-depth checks on the solar panels. (“LyngSat Update” and Reuters)
The failure of satellite makers to deliver their payloads when promised has
delayed the the first commercial Ariane 5 launch. Flight 119 has been moved
from late May to early July, while awaiting the arrival of Telecom 1 and
DELTA–The launches of Orion 3 with Delta on April 22 and 23 were postponed. (“LyngSat Update”)