Global media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp operates satellite TV companies in China, has made a thinly veiled attack on Tibet’s spirtual leader the Dalai Lama in a rare interview. In the October issue of “Vanity Fair” Murdoch says “I have heard cynics who say he’s a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes”. Murdoch admits he may be influenced by “propaganda” from the Chinese government, but says he thinks the quality of life is better in Tibet now than before the Dalai Lama fled from the Chinese occupation in 1959. Murdoch’s Star Television broadcasts a number of channels to China. (Reuters)
Murdoch has previously admitted that he removed BBC World from the North Asia beam because its news about China offended the authorities in Beijing. The Dalai Lama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent campaign on behalf of his occupied homeland.
NORDIC MEDIA NEWS
Felix Dobias in Germany asks when Sirius 3 is to moved to its proper position with the other Sirius satellites at 5 degrees West. It’s been more than a year since it was co-positioned with Astra 2A at 28 degrees East, and it was only supposed to be there a year.
SatcoDX writes that the transfer will not be on October 1 as planned, but in November instead, possibly leaving Astra operator SES with a missing back-up at 28 degrees East. (“Satco DX Updates”)
Sirius 3 was supposed to be replaced by Astra 2B, which according to Astra’s website is still scheduled for launch with Ariane during the third quarter of this year, but the Ariane website does not list Astra anytime before the end of this year. SatcoDX says no launch date is yet known for Astra 2B. LyngSat lists the launch in the year 2001. (HoweverAstra 2D is supposed to launch to the same position some time during 2000.)
Felix also wonders if Sweden’s TV4 has plans to switch to digital satellite relays. We haven’t seen any indications of this, but perhaps one or more of our subscribers knows more?
Bertil Andersson points out that in the Broadband item in the last edition, the consultancy company should be called “Stelacon” and the source for that story is, of course, “Dagens IT”. Sorry about the typos.
The Swedish government’s new budget bill gives SEK 100 million (around 12 million dollars) in extra support to public broadcasters Swedish Television, Swedish Radio, and Swedish Educational Broadcasting. In addition, Swedish Television gets an additional SEK 75 million (just under 10 million dollars) for improvements in program production, while SEK 10 million (around 12 million dollars) goes to Swedish Radio to increase program diversity. (TT)
In the beginning, there was just non-commercial public television in Sweden, with first one, then two channels. Then the satellites came along, and cable, and commercial channels began broadcasting from London, outside the reach of the Swedish government. So the ruling Social Democrats, with a big push from the right wing opposition, gave in to the inevitable, and licenced a single over-the-air private and commercial TV channel.
The requirements were tight….no commercial breaks in the middle of programs, and absolutely no commercials aimed at children. The licence went to TV4, which ever since has been trying to get the terms of its agreement changed. Over the years there have been many complaints from viewers, and several times the broadcast authorities have upheld these.
Last week things sort of came to a head….TV4’s boss publicly announced he wanted to renegotiate the terms of the agreement with the state two years before licence renewal. And the Broadcast Authority told an Internet magazine that the complaints against TV4 continue to roll in..since the channel can only put commercials between programs, it creates short curtain-raisers that even the channel boss calls “pretend programs”, to give it an excuse to shove in more commercials.
While TV4 wants Sweden to adopt the rules on television advertising found in
other European countries, the Swedish government continues to try to change
the EU rules to fit the Swedish model. (TT, “Dagens Nyheter”)
We’ve reported a lot about the progress of digital television here. Sweden has Europe’s, and possibly the world’s, most advanced digital cable network. And it’s a distant second in Europe in terrestrial digital TV, far after Britain, where the decoders are given away for free.
But digital satellite TV is nowhere as developed here as in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, or Spain. This despite what is now called Canal Digital being around for a couple of years, with a very low profile, and even less marketing.
That seems to have changed now, as the system has launched what is describes as a powerful offensive to attract new subscribers. This includes many new channels, and free dish antennas. The new channels are: Discovery Sci Tek*, Discovery Civilisation*, Discovery Travel and Adventure*, Sky News, Manchester United TV*, Dot tv*, National Geographic, Hallmark, and BBC World (items marked * are new to Scandinavia). (Canal Digital)
I called up Canal Digital’s Deputy Managing Director, Michael Fors, and
asked about their new campaign. You can hear the interview in today’s
program. What you don’t hear in the interview is his answer to my question
about how the pending merger between Swedish public telecom company Telia
and its Norwegian counterpart Telenor might affect Canal Digital? After all,
Telenor is a part owner of Canal Digital, and Telia is a competitor,
operating Sweden’s largest cable network, now upgraded to digital. The
reason that answer got the axe was because Michael Fors said that it wasn’t
for him to say.
The pending merger has run into a major obstacle. Probably alone in the OECD, Sweden’s former monopoly phone company is also the country’s by far largest cable operator. That means that, while cable operators in Britain and the US and other countries can offer telephony over cable as an alternative to the phone company, in Sweden there is no such option. The European Commission’s primary condition to allow the merger is that Telia divest itself of its cable operations. This the company is steadfastly refusing to do, which means that unless some kind of spin-off can be negotiated, the deal is likely to fall through. (“Dagens Nyheter”)
On the other hand, that might save a lot of embarrasment, considering the name that high-priced British designer Interbrand came up for the merged entity. Spurning the obvious Telianor, and the would be Managing Director’s favorite Telaris, the proposal is the improbable “People of Scandinavia”. This would be shorted to “PS” in such contexts as “PS Mobile”, “PS Cable” etc. (“Dagens Nyheter”, TT) Considering its critics often refer to Telia as “Felia” (“fel” is Swedish for “fault”), it seems inevitable “PS” would soon turn into “BS” (for the non-native speakers in the audience, this is English slang for “bullshit”). A Swedish company might have made this blunder, but it’s hard to understand why anyone with English as a native language would open their client to such a possibility.
Swedish broadband technology company Bredbandsbolaget (B2) has complained to Swedish and European Union antitrust authorities that Telia is abusing its dominant position. B2’s Chairman Jonas Birgersson says it is wrong for Telia to “wildly mix broadband services with ordinary telephone services in the network they themselves own…They’re taking profits from their protected businesses and using the money to invest in broadband services”. The dispute may affect the Telia-Telenor merger. (Reuters)
Canal Digital’s analog competition, MTG, otherwise known as Viasat or Kinnevik, steadfastly refuses to enter the digital satellite world, but has added a new channel to its stable. As we reported last time, MTG has bought 80 percent of the business news and documentary TV8. This has insured the channel’s survival, but MTG is firing all but 10 of the 35 employees, and the programming department is moving to London, where MTG keeps several of its satellite channels, to keep them ungoverned by Swedish media legislation. (“Dagens Nyheter”, “Pressens Tidning”, TT)
TV8 there is one of the few channels broadcasting in the new digital terrestrial network here (virtually all of the others belong to public broadcaster Swedish Televison). But MTG has threatened to pull the plug saying digital transmissions through the airwaves are no longer a high priority. MTG’s TV3 also has a digital licence, but has yet to start DTT broadcasts. Earlier it was to start September 1st. MTG blames the lack of viewers, but in this chicken and egg scenario, the current lack of channels to watch is the main reasons there’s so little viewer interest in terrestrial digital. (“Dagens IT”) It’s possible MTG is stalling because the day it joins the terrestrial package TV3 will have to follow Swedish law, losing its London loophope on advertising.
Ironically, MTG has applied for all five of the allocations in the new
digital package due to start next year. Among the 37 applicants are foreign
channels Discovery, Eurosport, and Norway’s NRK. (“Resume”)
The Swedish government may decide as early as this spring on the close-down date for analog television here, says Conservative MP Ola Karlsson, a member of the government’s Digital TV Committee. It’s been expected that the analog plug would be pulled sometime between 2005 and 2010. Making the decision soon would speed up the development of DTT, which is largely regarded as a fiasco here. (“Dagens IT”)
(See “ANALOG/DTT” under Europe, below, where Britain, with more channels and many more DTT subscribers, plans to follow approximately that same schedule.)
Aftonbladet TV columnist Frank Östergren dismisses DTT as “Messed up, naive, ignorance, but above all a belief that authority can once again control the ether media market has meant that millions have been thrown away for no purpose…” (“Aftonbladet”)
We reported recently that the first private channels had joined Swedish Digital Audio Broadcasting, as Radio Rix and Mix Megapol joined public broadcaster Swedish Radio for test broadcasts in Gothenburg. But now comes a report that no sooner than the transmissions started, than they may be turned off. Apparently the next step in the tests would involve the channels transmitting text or images. It’s a bit unclear, but either the two stations are unwilling to make the extra step, or they are giving into pressure from the association of private radio stations, which wants to wait until the new law governing commercial radio is introduced later this year. (“Dagens IT”)
Norwegian authorities have stopped commercial channel TV2’s attempt to buy the rest of TV Norge. As recently as this summer TV2 was allowed to increase its holding in its obstensible rival from 33 to 49 percent.
The other 51 percent is held by Disney’s SBS. But complete control, the authorities say, would give TV2 far too dominant a role in the Norwegian market. (“Pressens Tidning”)
Ireland’s Radio Limerick One has ceased relays on Sirius 2 (5 degrees East) on 12.111 GHz. The problem is said to be technical, but that is often heard when the cause is economic. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Canal Sur Venezuela has replaced BET on Jazz on Sirius 2, 12.380 GHz. Canal Sur also continues on Hot Bird 2 on 12.092 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
The Dutch version of Cartoon Network has closed on Astra 1H (12.168 GHz). Dutch sound for Cartoon Network is now on Sirius 2 on 12.303 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Travel has journeyed from Sirius 1 (12.015 GHz) to Sirius 2 (12.322 GHz) in Eurocrypt M encoded D2-MAC. (“LyngSat Updates”)
The Discovery Channel has started on Sirius on 12.453 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“SatcoDX Updates”)
A new Norwegian TV channel called Metropolitan has begun broadcasts on Thor 3 (1 degree West) on 12.456 GHz. It is in Conax encoded MPEG-2, and subscriptions will only be sold in Norway. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
The British government on September 17 set a timescale of 2006-2010 for switching off analog television signals as the country gears up for the digital revolution. But Culture Secretary Chris Smith said old-style analog would be unplugged only once the industry has provided comprehensive access to digital TV at affordable prices. (Reuters) (See ANALOG/DTT above for news of Sweden’s analog phase-out.)
With the help of European Broadcasting Union, Radio Television Kosovo started broadcasts from Pristina on September 19. As we reported last time, RTK will initially broadcast in both Albanian and Serbo-Croatian for two hours a day (17:00-19:00 hrs UTC). Signals are carried by Eutelsat W2 (16 degrees East) in PAL on 11.489 GHz, as the terrestrial network was destroyed by NATO bombing in April. (“satelitv”, EV1, “LyngSat”)
TCM Spain has started on Astra 1G on 12.168 GHz in clear MPEG-2. Bloomberg TV Spain has started on Astra 1H on 12.610 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Updates”)
RDP Radio Timor has started on Hot Bird on 11.727 GHz, audio 7.56 MHz. (“SatcoDX Updates”)
A test card from RTV Montenegro has started on Hot Bird on 12.380 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Channel 7 Europe has begun broadcasts in PAL on Hot Bird 5 on 11.556 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
The Jewish J-Channel has started on Hot Bird in MPEG-2 on 11.026 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
During the recent IFA show in Berlin, pop station Spreeradio 105.5 began broadcasts on Hot Bird 12.476 GHz. The German-language WRN3 and Radio Canada International are testing in the same multiplex. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Eurotica Rendez-Vous has left 11.010 GHz on Hot Bird 5, moving to Hot Bird 1 11.280 GHz, in Eurocrypt S2 encoded D2-MAC. (“LyngSat Updates”)
The French-language TV5 Europe has begun broadcasts on Telecom 2B satellite (5 degrees West) in PAL on 12.648 GHz. (“Lyngsat” via “Aftonbladet”)
Multichoice South Africa has started on 11.010, 11.050, 11.090, 11.130, 11.554, and 11.594 on PAS-7 (68.5 degrees East). Bop TV has started in clear PAL on 11.474 GHz on this same satellite. SABC 1 has replaced Bop TV on PAS-4 (same position) in PAL on 12.544 GHz. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Koresat 3 was successfully launched with Ariane on September 4. It will be located at 116 degrees East. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Motorola plans to take over General Instruments, a leader in cable and satellite decoders. The deal would give Motorola a more powerful position in the growing broadband market. (“Dagens Nyheter”)
Cablevision Systems and Sony have joined forces to develop a digital system allowing viewers to watch movies, play video games, and send e-mail, all from one set-top box. The system is expected to launch in the New York area in a year’s time, and reach an estimated three million homes. Cablevision is the sixth largest cable operator in the US, with 3.4 million subscribers. (Reuters)
BVN TV has started on Orion 1 (37.5 degrees West) on 11.909 GHz in clear MPEG-2. (“LyngSat Updates”)
Europe*Star 1 is scheduled to launch during the second part of 2000 at the latest. (“satelitv”)
The launch of Echostar 5 has been rescheduled for September 22, with a launch window between 1:08 and 3:07 AM Eastern Daylight Time. It will be carried live on Galaxy 6, trasponder 5 (C-band 3.800 GHz), with test signals beginning about half an hour before scheduled launch. (Curt Swinehart)