Sweden is one of the few countries in Europe that have started digital terrestrial television, that is digital TV over the ordinary airwaves. Britain was first, and the 30 channel ONdigital system has been on the air there since November. ONdigital competes with Rupert Murdoch’s satellite-based Sky Digital, and the competition has been so tough that both are now more or less giving away their digital decoder boxes (See below). “What Satellite TV” writes in its June issue that ONdigital has signed up 110,000 customers so far (less than one-third of Sky Digital’s subscription base).
Digital TV has started a lot slower here in Sweden. Less than a dozen channels have been approved, including three from public broadcaster Swedish Television, and a handful of regional outlets. The system officially went on the air on April 1st, but in what has turned into an unplanned April Fool’s joke, besides Swedish Television’s existing two channels, the only other digital TV station actually on the air here is the public broadcaster’s answer to CNN, called SVT24.
But CNN itself may in fact be appearing on the Swedish digital service in the not-too-distant future. None of the 5 commercial stations granted digital licences (TV3, TV4, Kanal 5, Cell, and Kunskaps-TV) have started broadcasting, which has led the Swedish Ministry of Culture to send them all letters asking why, with an implied threat to withdraw their allocations. And there are a number of foreign stations reportedly interested in taking their place. In today’s program, Lars Marén, Deputy Director of the Media Division at the Ministry of Culture explains why they wrote the letter, and why the BBC, CNN, or MTV may take the place of the domestic satellite channels in Swedish DTT unless they start broadcasting.
We also talk to Hans von Schreeb, working chairman of the board of Swedish Kanal 5, who blames the delay on drawn-out negotiations with Teracom, the state company providing the transmitters for DTT. You can hear him as well in today’s program.
Pontus Bergdahl of Informed Resources, which focuses on Internet and digital TV in Britain, the difference between Britain and Sweden is that the Swedish government has turned over the administration of DTT here to Senda, which as a state company has limited funding and less freedom of action. In Britain three of the six multiplexes are run by the private company ONdigital, which has had to make major investments, and offer subsidies to compete with Sky Digital. (“Dagens IT”)
Aftonbladet’s TV critic Frank Östergren comments “The digital terrestrial net is nothing to write home about”. A Swedish computer magazine wonders why all the fuss about DTT when we already have digital TV over the Internet, and the quality and choices are increasing all the time?
If you live in Europe or surrounding areas, you’ve probably noticed that the Swedish entry (“Take to to Your Heaven” by Charlotte Nilsson) won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Jerusalem on Saturday. What that also means is that public broadcaster Swedish Television will be hosting the first competition of the new millenium. As Nidia Hagström found out in today’s program from SVT’s director of planning and policy, Hans Bonnevier, this is expensive good news.
Nickelodeon Sweden seems to have stopped its dual illumination on 11.862 GHz
on Sirius 1, but remains on 12.015 GHz in Eurocrypt-encoded D2-MAC.
(“Transponder News” and “What Satellite TV”) ZTV remains on 11.862 GHz.
ONdigital has followed Sky Digital’s example in offering digital set-top boxes free-of-charge, and withdrawing the connection fee of GBP 20. Earlier Sky Digital announced it would be giving away its GBP 200 Digiboxes, but subscribers would still have to pay for the GBP 40 installation. (Michael Murray, Reuters, and “Dagens IT”) And home-owners aren’t allowed to subscribe to Sky Digital without Sky’s own installation.
To avoid the British laws banning hardcore pornography, two proscribed channels have changed their names and ownership structures. Eurotica-Rendez Vous is now called Torrid TV, while Eros TV has transformed into Amore TV. However, the new names are only for the British market, the old ones remain in the rest of Europe. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”). This way they stay on the air while the slow wheels of bureaucracy begin the banning process all over again.
Because its D2-MAC encryption codes have been posted on the Internet, Torrid TV has been forced to update its codes up to three times a night. Electronic counter-measures have knocked out some official viewing cards along with the pirate users. Torrid TV is now found in D2-MAC on Hot Bird 5 on 11.010 GHz (sharing the transponder with the uncoded PAL phone sex promo channel Venus TV), and in MPEG-2 on Norway’s Thor 3 (1 degree West) on 12.456 GHz. Amore TV is now in Conax-encoded MPEG-2 on Sweden’s Sirius 2 (5 degrees East) on 12.245 GHz. (“What Satellite TV”)
Britain’s first environmental satellite channel, Channel Earth, is in talks with Sky Digital. It could launch during the first half of next year, and would be on the air for 16-18 hours a day. Run by several former BBC bosses, it will be backed by environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and the National Trust. (“What Satellite TV”)
BBC Knowledge starts broadcasts today over Astra’s second position at 28 degrees East, in MPEG-2 on 11.719 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”) Like the other digital BBC channels it is coded in Videoguard, but BBC viewing cards are available for free to British residents.
After 5 months off the air, Solar FM was scheduled to return on May 28, on Astra transponder 15 (MTV UK — 11.421 GHz) audio 7.56 MHz. (“Transponder News”)
Europe Online Networks has launched its “Internet in the Sky” service on
Astra transponder 114 (12.640 GHz). The service offers streamed video and
audio, digital downloads, CD’s, video games, and access to the Worldwide
Web. End-users need to be equipped with DVB satellite PC crds or set-top
boxes connected to a participating ISP. Real Networks is providing the
streaming audio and video. (“Transponder News”) The only drawback to
satellite Internet access is the return path, which has to be by telephone,
so your phone line is still blocked (and since Europeans pay for local phone
calls by the minute, you have to pay for that as well).
Bowing to pressure from NATO, Eutelsat has removed Serbia’s RTS from Eutelsat II-F2 (11.596 GHz), as of 18:00 hrs UTC on May 26. Representatives of 31 of the 47 member countries voted to recommend suspension at a meeting in Cardiff, Wales on May 21. Russia, Belarus, and Armenia voted to continue the broadcasts, while the Vatican, Ukraine, and Greece abstained. Yugoslavia’s ambassador to Belgium has sent a letter to the Belgian Telecommunications Minister objecting to the closure, and pointing out that Yugoslvia is a member of Eutelsat. (Reuters, “Lyngemark Satellite Chart Headlines” and “Transponder News”)
Eutelsat announced on May 21 that its shareholders have agreed to privatize the satellite operator by the middle of 2001, six months earlier than planned. Eutelsat, which was set up in 1977 by Europe’s public telecoms companies, will become a French private company called Eutelsat SA. (Reuters)
The Swiss station Radio 24 is to broadcast in uncoded MPEG-2 on Hot Bird 3 on 12.379 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
BET on Jazz has launched on Hot Bird 4 in uncoded MPEG-2 on 10.722 GHz. (“What Satellite TV”)
Qatar Space Channel has joined the Arabsat package on Hot Bird 4 on 12.654 GHz. (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart Headlines”)
Deutsche Telekom has a new MPEG-2 package on Kopernikus 3 (23.5 degrees East), on 11.646 and 12.725 GHz. (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart Headlines”)
MTV’s new M2 US is on Orion 1 (37.5 degrees West) in clear MPEG-2 on 11.542 GHz (North European beam). (“LyngSat Update”)
Following the decision by Israel’s High Court to revoke an agreement between
the Communications Ministry and cable operators, the country’s only DBS
service has asked for the return of its licence. DBS Satellite Services Ltd
had given up its licence after the ministry announced it would allow cable
companies to offer tiered packages. The High Court has ruled that DBS should
be the only company allowed to offer tiered packages, for up to 27 months of
until it had 250,000 subscribers. (Reuters)
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has opposed easing the ban on Western satellite television. Rather than easing the ban, he says Iran should look for new ways to block future infiltration of its airwaves by the advance of satellite technology. The spiritual leader’s remarks came after Iran’s liberal Minister of Culture said the government of moderate President Mohammed Khatami wants to allow some individuals access to satellite television. (Reuters)
According to the official Iranian news agency, security forces have seized 730 satellite dishes from smugglers in the southern port of Kangan. Although satellite dishes are banned in the Islamic republic, many Iranians use hidden antennas, which hardline fundamentalists claim spread corrupt Western values. (AP)
BBC World is now on Nilesat 101, joining the ERTU package on 11.843 GHz. MBC has replaced the Iraq Satellite Channel in MPEG-2 on 11.823 GHz. Iraq continues in PAL on 11.862 GHz. (“Lyngemark Satellite Chart Headlines”)
Abu Dhabi TV has started on Arabsat 3A (26 degrees East) on 11.843 GHz in clear PAL. (“LyngSat Update”)
All of the DD channels have left Insat 2B/2C (93.5 degrees East) and are now only on Insat 2DT. DD12 Jammu and Kashmir have left 4.085 GHz, and are now only on Thaicom 3 (4.155 GHz in PAL). DD1, 5, 7, and 8 have left Insat 2C and are all now also on Insat 2E at (both 83 degrees East). (“LyngSat Update”)
Japan’s Telecommunications Council said on May 31 that cable operators should be given more government subsidies so they can digitize their networks by 2005. It also urged the government to encourage merges and acquisitions among Japan’s 720 mostly small and fragmented cable systems. (Reuters)
An NTSC test card has been spotted on 3.940 GHz on PAS-22 at 60 degrees
West. This is the satellite originally launched in December 1997 as Asiasat
3, which after going into the wrong orbit was sent by Hughes around the
Moon, to get into a correct geo-stationary orbit. It’s inclined as by as
much as 8.1 degrees. (“LyngSat Update”)
News Corp and MCI have announced that the Federal Communications Commission has approved the transfer of their DBS licence at 110 degrees West to Echostar. At the same time, Echostar has announced the planned launch of two new satellites: Echostar 5 in the late Summer of this year, and Echostar 6 in December. Both would be launched on Atlas rockets from Cape Canaveral, and would be placed at 110 degrees, where Echostar now has 29 transponders (after the transfer from News Corp/MCI). Both new satellites would carry 32 Ku-band transponders, which can be doubled up to provide double power for DBS. (Curt Swinehart)
HCJB is testing new frequencies to Europe. The station is interested in feedback about:
11865 kHz from 03:30-05:00 hrs UTC
11970 and 11730 kHz from 07:00-09:00 hrs UTC.
E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada’s Nimiq 1 satellite was successfully launched on May 20. It carries 32 Ku-band transponders, and will be located at 91 degrees West. It will relay national TV networks, cable channels, and data services, as well as foreign language broadcasts for Canada’s Italian, Indian, Chinese, and German-speaking communities. (Reuters and “LyngSat Update”)
The launch of NSS K-TV has been delayed until June 15. It will be positioned at 95 degrees East. The launch of Telkom 1 and AsiaStar is now scheduled for July 2. Indonesia’s Telkom 1 carries 36 C-band transponders and will be placed at 108 degrees East. AsiaStar is WorldStar’s second satellite for L-band digital radio to the Third World, and will be placed at 105 degrees East. (“LyngSat Update”)
President Bill Clinton has directed Defence Secretary William Cohen to report on why a string of 6 American space launches has failed. Over the past nine months, there have been failures of three heavy-lift Titan rockets with military payloads, and three commercial payloads on Delta 3 and Athena space vehicles. (Reuters)
A Texas-based company says it is seeking to turn a swampy area of northwest Guyana into a launch site for commercial satellites. Executives from Beal Aerospace Technologies have met with Guyanan President Janet Jagan. They plan the first launch from Sombrero Island in October 2000. Arianespace launches its rockets from nearby French Guiana. (Reuters)