The final crew to be stationed on MIR left the Russian space station on August 27, leaving it unoccupied for the first time in 13 years. The landmark space station is to be allowed to decay in its orbit, followed by a (hopefully) guided fall into the ocean next year.
There were a number of radio experiments planned in connection with the total eclipse of the sun that stretch from the North Atlantic to Bangladesh. We haven’t seen any results yet, but there might have been some interesting propagation effects.
NORDIC MEDIA NEWS
Broadband is a trendy buzzword in Sweden right now, and basically means fast access to the Internet. There’s a higher percentage of Swedes online than in any other country, including the United States. But most of them are still connecting to the Net over modems and telephone lines. Lots of newer, faster alternatives are being talked about here, from digital telephone systems like ISDN and ADSL to using the electricity network.
The fastest systems that more or less already exist are cable television networks. Telia, the largest system in the country, has ambitious plans for Internet access, but that involves major rewiring, paid for by home-owners, and the upgrade seems severely delayed.
The largest cable operator in Stockholm, Stjärn-TV, has been far more aggressive in marketing its fast Internet service, and last week dropped the installation fee and the 400 dollar price tag for the necessary cable modems.
This had followed full-page ads in the local newspapers from a new start-
up called the Broadband Company (Bredbandsbolaget), encouraging people to hold-off on signing up with Stjärn-TV, and wait instead for the company’s alternative, which turned out to be the relatively old-fashioned, and slower than advertised (2 Mbps instead of 10 Mbps), solution of hooking up an Ethernet network within apartment buildings to the Internet.
In the middle of all this, a consultancy company here called Stelacon came out with a report claiming that Swedes really don’t want fast Internet access, that they are satisfied with doing their banking and shopping or whatever online at slow-poke modem speeds. (“Dagens IT”)
At last week’s IFA consumer electronics mega-show in Berlin, two Nordic companies presented very similar broadband alternatives, using the new digital over-the-air TV networks here in Europe (so far only in Britain and Sweden) to receive information from the Internet, and the digital GSM moble phone network for the other direction. Which at least doesn’t tie up your local phone line, even if cellphone access costs a lot more than regular telephones right now.
Teracom, the company that runs Sweden’s radio and TV broadcast transmitters, presented SABINA (System for Assymetric Broadband Internet Access). I called up Christer Lundin, head of Corporate Communications at Teracom, just back from the IFA show, and asked him to explain how SABINA works, and you can hear his reply in today’s program. He also comments on the report claiming that Swedes don’t want more bandwidth.
When Swedish Television News covered that consultants’ report, the story included an interview at the IFA Show with a representative of the Finnish cellphone and digital decoder manufacturer Nokia. But while the news report made it seem like the Nokia representative agreed with the consultants’ conclusion, in reality the company was showing off a broadband alternative of its own, very similar to Teracom’s, called MediaScreen. Katarina Hägg is Communications Manager for Nokia Multimedia Terminals, and she describes it as well in today’s program.
Hopefully, within a couple of years you’ll be able listen to Radio Sweden
static free, and whenever you like, over the Internet — on the beach, in the
mountains, or anywhere else, with a device the size of a portable radio.
The respected Stockholm daily “Dagens Nyheter” has called Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) in Sweden a “Sales Fiasco”, and saying as far as the sale of the necessary new set-top boxes is concerned, Sweden is a developing country. By way of comparison the article says there are more than 800,000 households in German enjoying digital television, while only about 1000 Swedish households have bought boxes for DTT. But since the next sentence says one million Nokia decoders have been delivered to Kirsch, it would seem that the figure concerns German digital satellite television, and not DTT, which is comparing apples and oranges.
As far as well know, Germany doesn’t even have DTT, and Sweden is a European leader in Digital cable.
A better comparison would be with Britain, where the ONdigital DTT system has been marketed much more successfully than in Sweden. Of course, ONdigital is giving away set-top boxes. (This goes against the grain of Swedish commerce, which usually tries to charge for features that are often free in other countries.) According to “Dagens Nyheter”, Teracom, which is responsible for the DTT transmission system, is trying to overcome viewers’ reluctance to buy new boxes with a plan to rent them.
In a similar fashion, Canal Plus has been renting the set-top boxes for its satellite Canal Digital service, while British counterpart BSkyB has been giving away decoders for its Sky Digital service. While the giveaway is costing BSkyB money right now, the campaign has also resulted in 1.2 million subscribers. (“Dagens Nyheter”, “Dagens IT”, TT)
Swedish DTT has not been helped by the refusal of several major manufacturers to make set-top boxes for the Swedish market. This is reportedly because they object to the operating system chosen by Teracom’s DTT subscription arm Senda. Despite the name, Open TV, it is a closed system, and Philips, Sony, and Panasonic refuse to support a closed OS. According to “Dagens IT”, the three companies have written a joint letter to Senda expressing their common position. Instead, they say, they are putting the open system MHP Java in their digital decoders. That leaves Nokia as the only supplier of boxes for Swedish DTT. (“Dagens Industri”)
(Strangely, Sony and Panasonic do manufacture set-top boxes for Sky Digital, which also uses Open TV.)
Another problem is that most of the broadcasters who received DTT allocations have yet to begin digital broadcasting. Until last week, the only channels available were public service broadcaster SVT, with its news outlet SVT 24, along with some regional stations, a channel from Swedish Educational Television, the business channel TV8, and the pay-film Canal Plus.
The government has threatened to withdraw the licences of the other stations, (TV3, Kanal 5, Kunskaps-TV, and Cell). Last week Teracom dropped its demand that digital broadcasters pay for distribution, as long as there are less than 100,000 potential viewers. The country’s only commercial terrestrial broadcaster, TV4, immediately began broadcasting in DTT. (Since TV4 is already available over the air, its presence may not attract any more decoder buyers.)
Four more licences are now available, and will be allocated by the end of the year. (TT)
Jan Stenbeck, Sweden’s Murdoch wannabe, continues to expand his media empire. MTG, media arm of Stenbeck’s Kinnevik company, has taken over the business channel TV8. MTG already operates TV3, TV6, ZTV, Viasat Sport, and TV1000 in the Swedish market, along with a major holding in TV4 and extensive interests in other countries, Nordic and Baltic. (“Dagens Nyheter”, “Journalisten”) The Kinnevik empire also includes Sweden’s second largest telephone company, one of three mobile telephone companies, and the country’s largest Internet Service Provider.
MTG has also decided to start a Finnish version of its TV3 satellite channel, which already exists in Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian versions. The launch will be this Fall. (MTG and TT)
MTG Radio has bought 24 percent of the shares in P4 Finland. The agreement gives MTG the right to run two virtually national radio channels in Finland. One, Groove Radio, already reaches 2.8 million listeners. The other station, with a potential audience of 2 million, starts later this year. (“Dagens Nyheter” and MTG)
Digital Audio Broadcasting has received a boost in Sweden, as the first commercial stations have joined what has until now been a monopoly of public service broadcaster Swedish Radio. Mix Megapol (operated by publishing giant Bonniers) and Rix FM (part of MTG) have begun test transmissions in the DAB service in Gothenburg. Unfortunately, marketing of DAB receivers has been so conspicuous in its absence that there are only a couple of hundred in Swedish households so far. (“Dagens IT”)
On September 1, Canal Plus launched its third pay-film channel, Canal Plus Blaa (“Blue”), joining Canal Plus and Canal Plus Gul (“Yellow”). Besides satellite distribution, this part-time channel is included in Telia’s digital cable network. (Frank Östergren in “Aftonbladet”) The satellite relay is on Thor 2 on 11.278 GHz. To make room in the digital package there, Hallmark has moved to 12.303 GHz on the same satellite. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
At the same time, Telia has stopped distribution of the analog channel TV21, a low budget operation featuring Swedish “dance band music” (sort of rock band lookalikes playing music for pensioners). This is to make room for more digital channels. (Frank Östergren in “Aftonbladet”)
Telia has also dropped TRT and MBC from its digital cable offerings. (Telia)
The all-news channel NRK Alltid Nyheter has closed on Thor 3 12.322 GHz. It continues on Thor 2 in D2-MAC on 11.325 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Norway’s TV2 has begun broadcasts on Thor 2 on 11.261 GHz in D2-MAC. It will be leaving Intelsat 707, 11.555 GHz, on October 5. (Christian Lygemark in “Aftonbladet”)
TV Chile on Sirius 2 is now encrypted in Videoaccess. (Christian Lyngemark in “Aftonbladet”)
All of the Music Choice themed music radio stations on 11.014 GHz on Intelsat 707 (1 degree West) are now encoded in Conax. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Astra 1H is now in service at 19.2 degrees East, having taken over from Astra 1E-G. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Turner Broadcasting plans to encode the analog version of Cartoon Network/TNT on Astra 1C (11.023 GHz). The soft Videocrypt encryption means that, like Britain’s Channel 5, the Turner stations will be visible to anyone with a Videocrypt decoder, without any special viewing card. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
TNT is to be relaunched this Autumn with a new name, new on air look and new schedule. The service, to be called Turner Classic Movies (TCM), will start on October 15. The revamp will bring the service into line with the TCM brand operating in the US, Canada and Eastern Europe. The channel will show more general entertainment programs in addition to classic films. (“What Satellite TV”)
The adult channel Midnight Blue has begun transmissions in Video-encrypted PAL on Astra on 11.671 GHz. The channel broadcasts in the middle of the night, replacing Palyboy, which after its merger with the Adult Channel is now only available in Britain on cable. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”) Astra’s first hardcore porno channel, Adult Plus, launched on August 1, in MPEG-2 on 12.012 GHz. It is encrypted in Simulcrypt, Seca, and Irdeto, with softcore during the day. (“What Satellite TV”)
Because of the lack of analog transponders on Astra, the owner of the German news channel N24, Pro Sieben Media, has signed a deal with the Swiss pay-film channel Teleclub. In return for a “generous” payment and replacement of all of its subscribers’ receivers and decoders, Teleclub is switching to digital-only transmission. N24 will take over the analog transponder at the end of January. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
On August 1, British Eurosport joined the Family package on Sky Digital (channel 419). This should make the transition from analog to digital more tempting for many Sky subscribers. (“What Satellite TV”)
A host of new kids channels have launched in Sky’s digital package. They include Nick Jr (channel number 606), Nickelodeon Replay (605) and Fox Kids Plus (611). The launches leave Sky with a roster of nine childrens channels. (“What Satellite TV”)
On October 1, BSkyB is starting yet another Sky Digital film channel, Sky Moviemax 5, on Astra 2A. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Meanwhile, Sky Sports has launched its much-hyped interactive Sky Sports Extra as part of Sky Digital. It occupies channel 404, and will run concurrently with live games broadcast on Sky Sports 1, 2, and 3. Viwers are able to watch matches from different angles, as well as access statistics on the game, and an onscreen scrolling sports news ticker. (“What Satellite TV”)
Sony Entertainment TV has begun broadcasts on Astra 2A on 11.973 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet” and “LyngSat Updates”)
The home shopping network Wow plans to open 10 themed channels on Astra 2A. (“What Satellite TV”)
SES has ordered two new satellites: Astra 2C and Astra 2D, which will both be placed at the British digital position of 28.2 degrees East. Astra 2C, with 32 transponders in the 10.700-11.200 and 11.700-12.200 GHz bands, will be launched during the first half of 2001. Astra 2D will be launched, out of order, as it were, during the end of 2000, with 16 transponders in the 10.700-10.950 GHz range. (“What Satellite TV” and Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Eutelsat has now taken over France’s Telecom 2A satellite at 8 degrees West. The 11 Ku-band transponders will be used by Euteslat until the satellite’s planned end-of-life in 2004, to relay data traffic in Europe. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Having bullied its way to an agreement with Astra to share 28 degrees East, Eutelsat is now in a battle over the position at 12.5 degrees West, which it calls Atlantic Gate. Eutelsat already has its (inclined) I-F5 and II-F2 satellites at this position, and the new 20 transponder Atlantic Gate 1 is due to launch there in 2001. However, Loral plans to launch Orion 2, using the same frequency band, to 12 degrees West. Loral had registered the position almost a year before Eutelsat, but (in a reversal of its controversy with Astra) Eutelsat says the registration in invalid because of a technicality. (“What Satellite TV”)
Having completed its move to this position from 10 degrees East, Eutelsat II-F2 now has Portugal’s SIC on 12.574 GHz, in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Portugal’s Radio Renascenca 1 is now on Hot Bird 2, 11.727 GHz, audio 7.38 MHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Mizik Tropical has begun in MPEG-2 on Hot Bird 3 on 12.476 GHz. Radio Toronto is also to use this frequency. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
TV Bulgaria and the radio station Horizon have returned to Hot Bird 5, 11.096 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
On September 1, the Dutch BVN TV closed down its analog service in PAL on Hot Bird 1 on 11.283 GHz. Instead it will broadcast in MPEG-2 via Astra 1 and Hot Bird. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Evision, a new channel about IT and the Internet, is testing in MPEG-2 on 12.673 GHz on Hot Bird. Regular broadcasts in Italian and English are to begin this month. (“Satellifax” via Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Worldhaus TV, a cultural channel as part of Weimar’s year as the European Cultural Capital, is now broadcasting in MPEG-2 on Hot Bird 3 on 12.476 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Amore TV has resumed in Eurocrypt-encoded D2-MAC on 11.178 GHz on Eutelsat
W2 (16 degrees East). (“What Satellite TV” and Richard Karlsson in
“Aftonbladet”) Babylon Blue is back, now on Hot Bird 5, on 12.597 GHz in
MPEG-2. India’s Apna TV is due to return here as well, but has been delayed
because of technical problems. (“What Satellite TV” and Christian Lyngemark
in “Aftonbladet”) Venus TV has moved from 11.026 to 11.030 GHz in clear
MPEG-2 on Hot Bird. Eurotica Rendez-Vous has moved from 11.280 GHz on Hot
Bird 1 to 11.010 GHz on Hot Bird 5, in Eurocrypt S2 encoded D2-MAC, sharing
time with Venus TV. (“LyngSat Updates”)
ITN has given the go-ahead for the launch of a 24 hour news channel for the UK. The service, which is as yet unnamed, is set to launch later in the year – possibly as soon as November. While the service may well only be available to ONdigital viewers, some of its programming will be shown on ITN’s pan-European news channel, EuroNews. (“What Satellite TV”)
DF1 and Premiere Digital are now encrypted on both Irdeto and Betacrypt on Astra and Kopernikus 3. (“LyngSat Updates”)
France’s Vivendi has raised its stake in Canal Plus to 49 percent, in a deal with the Swiss-based group Richemont. At the same time, Vivendi has increased its holdings in British Sky Broadcasting to 24.5 percent, by buying shares held by British companies Pearson and Granada. Vivendi continues to want to merge Canal Plus with BSkyB, but its insistance that Canal Plus be the dominant partner has met with resistance from Sky’s Rupert Murdoch. (Reuters)
On August 1, three Lithuanian private radio stations went on satellite. M-1, M-1 Plius, and Pukas now use Sweden’s Sirius satellite (5 degrees East) to distribute programming in MPEG-2, on 12.72943 GHz. These are the first Lithuanian stations to relay their entire schedule via satellite.
Lithuania also has a new national FM broadcaster called Lietus, which went
on the air on July 15. (Sigitas Zilionis)
The European Broadcasting Union has announced it will launch a public service TV station from the Kosovar capital Pristina on September 19, at the request of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo. Radio Television Kosovo will broadcast in both Albanian and Serbo-Croatian. (“satelitv”) This might be the same as the Nezavisna TV also reported planned by the EBU from Pristina, which was to be relayed on the Eutelsat W2 satellite, which already carries public broadcasters from Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia. (“satelitv”)
The first international radio stations for Kosovo and the Serbian province
Metohija is Radio West, backed by Italy’s RAI. Music and news programs
around the clock will be in Italian, Albanian, and Serbo-Croatian, prepared
in Italy and relayed by satellite to Kosovo for FM rebroadcast.
The controversial JSC Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel is back on Arabsat 3A (26 degrees East) on 11.767 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Updates”)
State-owned broadcast distributor Sentech is starting its own digital direct-to-home satellite service. This will be part of its newly launched Vivid platform, which currently transmits some of the country’s terrestrial networks via satellite free-or-charge to remote areas of the country. That would put it in competition with the well-established Multichoice Africa, and its DStv digital satellite service and M-Net terrestrial pay operation. (Curt Swinehart)
Asiasat 1 has completed its move from 105.5 to 122 degrees East. (“LyngSat Updates”)
On PAS 4 (68.5 degrees East) DD Sports on 4.033 Ghz has switched from PAL to MPEG-2. DD News, DD India, and DD1 have joined the package on that frequency. DD News has replaced DD India on 4.155 GHz clear PAL. On Insat 2E (83 degrees East) DD1, DD2, and DD8 have started in clear MPEG-2 on 3.831, 3.911, and 3.951 GHz. (“LyngSat Updates”)
In the largest potential media merger ever, Viacom is buying CBS for around USD 37 million in stock. In addition to the CBS network, one of the Big Three American broadcasters, the deal would give Vaicom access to one of the largest collections of US radio stations, as well as CBS’s growing portfolio of Internet investments.
Viacom’s holdings include MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures and half the small UPN Television network. The price tag is nearly twice that paid by Disney for ABC, and would create the world’s second largest media group, after Time-Warner. The recent FCC decision to allow companies to own more TV and radio stations (see below) was crucial to the deal, which reportedly started with CBS interest in acquiring UPN. (Reuters, CNN)
Maybe farther down the road, this deal may mean that CBS will rescind its wacky decision not to allow its own radio stations to broadcast over the Internet.
Reuters writes: While not the driving force behind the marriage, Viacom and CBS will bring together Internet sites from very different cultures, each with their own well-known brand names. Viacom and CBS…have taken very different paths into cyberspace. (Reuters)
The Federal Communications Commission has adopted new rules, allowing media companies to own two television stations in the same market for the first time. The change, long sought by the broadcasting industry, will be limited to the largest markets, with at least eight separately owned TV stations, and would prohibit any of the four top-rated stations in a market from combining. The plan also allows a company to own as many as seven radio stations in a market where it also owns one TV station, or six radio stations in a market where it owns two TV stations. (Reuters)
The Chicago, Atlantia, and Dallas (network?) affliates have started on the DISH network on Echostar 4 (110 degrees West) on: 12.603, 12.632, and 12.661 GHz, in MPEG-2/Nagavision. (“LyngSat Updates”)
The Palestinean Satellite Channel has started on Telstar 5 (97 degrees West) on 11.960 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Kazakhstan lifted a ban on launches of Russian Proton rockets on August 31, after Moscow paid compensation for the recent crash of a Proton booster. (Reuters)
Russia’s Yamal 101 and 102 were launched with Proton on September 6. Each satellite carries 10 or 12 Ku-band transponders, as well as some in the C-band. Yamal 101 will be placed at 49 degrees East and Yamal 102 will be at 90 degrees East. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Western Europe’s Ariane carried into orbit Indonesia’s Telkom 1 satellite on August 8. With 36 C-band transponders, it will replace Palapa B2R at 108 degrees East. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Ariane put into orbit a satellite for South Korea on September 4, after two delays. Koresat 3 will provide direct broadcast television and telecommunications over the Asian-Pacific region for Korea Telecom. With 30 Ku-band transponders, it will replace Koresat 1/2 at 116 degrees East. (Reuters and “LyngSat Updates”)
Galaxy 11 will be launched in November with Ariane. (Curt Swinehart)
Echostar 5 is to be launched with Atlas on September 10. Live coverage will be on Galaxy 6 (99 degrees West) on 3.840 GHz, in NTSC. (Curt Swinehart)
The launch of ZY-1 (CBERS-1) and SACI-1 has been set for October 14. (“satelitv”)
Sea Launch plans the first commercial space launch of a rocket with a functional payload from a floating platform in early to mid-October. (“satelitv”)
NORDIC DX CHAMPIONSHIPS
NorDX 99, the Nordic DX Championships 1999, is scheduled for October 15-17. DXers living outside the Nordic countries are welcome to take part in a separate event. For more information, write to: