NORDIC MEDIA NEWS
There’s been a major shake-up in the Swedish print media world. Bonniers, which dominates Swedish publishing, has switched around the management of its two Stockholm dailies, the respected morning “Dagens Nyheter”, and the more sensational afternoon tabloid “Expressen”, once Sweden’s largest circulation newspaper, but now in seemingly permanent second place to its rival “Aftonbladet”.
“Dagens Nyheter’s” editor-in-chief Joakim Berner takes over the top spot at “Expressen”, while “Dagens Nyheter’s” former political editor Hans Bergström takes over the helm of that paper. Media observers praise the move, saying it will unify the directions of Bonnier’s two heavyweights. And hopefully it will improve “Expressen’s” sagging circulation.
On March 25, when Western Europe goes over to Summer time, we’ll be changing many of our shortwave frequencies, along with many other international broadcasters. Our relays via local radio stations, and our satellite relays remain largely the same. There’s a new relay from the World Radio Network to Europe, Africa, and Asia at 13:30 hrs UTC.
We’re also now part of the World Radio Nework package on Worldspace’s AsiaStar digital satellite radio service to Asia, on channel 1302 E, and continue on Worldspace’s AfriStar satellite on channel 627 E. Unfortunately, the new schedule is not yet available, so so pre-March 25 schedule is given below. Check our website for updates.
The other big change is that we’re switching our European satellite relays from analog to digital. The analog service on Eutelsat’s Hot Bird 4 satellite continue at 13:30 and 17:15 hrs daily, and at 18:30 hrs Monday to Saturday on 10.853 GHz, audio 7.38 MHz. But this closes down on the 4th of July. So satellite listeners in Europe should definately get themselves new digital MPEG-2 receivers, and look for us at the same times and orbital postition on the Hot Bird 5 satellite on 12.597 GHz. Our service via Sweden’s Sirius 2 satellite at those same times also continues.
On shortwave, a few weeks ago we added a new relay from the transmitters of Radio Canada International in Sackville, primarily intended for reception on the West Coast of North America. In today’s radio program I was joined in the studio by Magnus Nilsson of Swedish Teracom, who organizes our shortwave schedules, and who tells us the Sackville relays have worked out so well that we are quadrupling them, with an additional broadcast in English, and two in Swedish. Our English relays from Sackville will be at 02:30 hrs on 9755 kHz, and at 03:30 hrs on 11895 kHz. Remember, these are primarily intended for the West Coast of North America, while we continue at those same times to broadcast from Sweden on 9495 kHz.
Shortwave broadcasting is re-inventing itself as a digital mode. This is being carried out by a worldwide alliance of broadcasters called Digital Radio Mondial. In today’s program Magnus Nilsson of Teracom tells me how far we’ve come, and plays examples of DRM test broadcasts that are far clearer than the corresponding AM transmissions over the same path at the same time. These were transmitted in August 2000 in the 19 meter band from Sines, Portugal, and received in Finland.
SVT Europa, with programming from Swedish public broadcaster SVT, has succeeded in easing some of the restrictions placed upon it, and can now be viewed at hotels outside the Nordic region. Previously only private households could subscribe to the channel. Several charter travel operators have announced they will begin carrying SVT Europa at hotels in areas popular with Swedish tourists, and Sunwing’s hotels in Rhodes, Cyprus, and Mallorca have already begun. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
In May Canal Digital says it will replace the adult channel Eurotica with Private Gold, because of the poor technical quality of Eurotica. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
On Norway’s Thor 3 (1 degree West) Bulgaria’s Nova TV has started on 12.169 GHz, while Sweden’s K-World has left 12.054 GHz (D2-MAC). (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Digibox manufacturer Pace is to develop a cheap digital TV adapter for free-to-air terrestrial TV after acquiring the French technology company Xcom. The DTVA is already popular in Asia and could launch in the UK later this year, with built-in e-mailing capabilities. (“What Satellite TV”)
Sky News closes its analog PAL service from Astra 1 (19.2 degrees East) on June 30. Sky One, Sky Sports 1, and Sky Premier will continue analog relays until September. As we reported before, the analog services of UK Gold, Discovery, Animal Planet, Discover Home and Leisure, Challenge, Living, Trouble, Sci Fi Channel, the History Channel, Bravo and UK Horizons will close on Astra 1 at the end of this month. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Good news baseball fans–Britain’s Channel 5 is likely to continue broadcasting on Astra 1 until the end of 2001. (“What Satellite TV”) Channel 5’s coverage of Major League Baseball is due to start on April 1. (Channel 5)
ITV has caved into pressure from viewers and advertisers by signing a GBP 10 million a year deal with the owners of the Astra 2D satellite to launch on Sky Digital later this year. Under the 10 year agreement, ITV will lease three transponders from SES and will use the space to broadcast 16 regional versions of its network – 14 ITV regions plus seperate services for HTV Wales/West and Border Scotland and England.
By completely side-stepping Sky, industry insiders say ITV is paying GBP 10 million instead of the reported GBP 18-20 million that Sky had been demanding. However, carriage for entertainment channel ITV2, breakfast broadcaster GMTV and ITV’s soon-to-launch children channel has “still to be confirmed.” And ITV has yet to sign a deal to be included in Sky’s Electronic Programme Guide. (Reuters and “What Satellite TV”)
MBI Europe has left Astra 2B (28.2 degrees East) 11.973 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
NPR Worldwide expects to start digital broadcasts from Hot Bird by no later than April 1. Analog broadcasts on Astra will end on March 31, with a possible one month extension. The Hot Bird frequency is the same as Radio Sweden: 12.597 GHz V, SR 27500 FEC 3/4. (NPR)
Eurosport has closed down its analog transmissions from Hot Bird 1 (13 degrees East) on 11.387 GHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Two Italian regions have launched channels in the clear on Hot Bird to reach expatriate communities. The Abruzzo region has launched its service at 12.092 GHz, followed by the Piedmonte region (with four months of trial broadcasts under the name Salute Benessare) at 12.111 GHz. These may soon be followed by broadcasts from Puglia, Liguria, and Lazio. (“What Satellite TV”)
Swiss Radio International is gradually discontinuing its shortwave service, with no further programs after the end of 2004. SRI will also reduce satellite programming, retaining only the English-language service. (Jan Nieuwenhuis) (SRI is apparently not excited by the potential of DRM, and is relying instead on its swissinfo.org website.)
South African telecommunications authorities on March 13 cold-shouldered an African consortium’s plans to launch a satellite exclusively dedicated to servicing the continent, saying the service it offered was not competitive. South Africa accounts for more than half of telecommunications in Africa. It has been offered a 20 percent stake in RascomStar, a company owned by 26 private and state-controlled mostly African telecommunication companies for dlrs 40 million.
The Libyan telecommunications company DPTC has the largest stake in RascomStar – 35 percent, while the French company Alcatel Space has 12 percent. RascomStar officials have given South Africa three months to come up with the money and provide its technical specification requirements before Alcatel starts building the satellite in May.
The project will go ahead regardless of whether South Africa invests, and the RascomStar satellite would be launched by August 2003, Brenda Madumise, a consultant to the project, said in a presentation to South African parliamentarians. (AP)
ORTB and Benin’s LC2 have started on Intelsat 706 (53 degrees West) on 3.831 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Simaye Azadi Iran National TV has left PAS 4 (68.5 degrees East) 11.464 GHz (PAL) and Sirius 2 (5 degrees East) 12.111 GHz, but has started on PAS 7 (68.5 degrees East) 11.170 GHz (PAL), Eutelsat W3 (7 degrees East) 11.596 GHz, and Eutelsat W2 (16 degrees East) on 11.304 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
2M Maroc has started on PAS 1R (45 degrees West) on 4.102 GHz on the African beam. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
RFO Polynesie has started on Intelsat 702 (176 degrees East) on 4.027 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Auction TV has started on JCSAT 4A (124 degrees East) on 12.583 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Alive Networks has started on Asiasat 3S (105.5 degrees East) on 3.900 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
On Asiasat 2 (100.5 degrees East) RTP Internacional has left 3.980 GHz, while MTA Internacional has left 3.660 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Ltd. is ready to walk away from its deal to merge satellite operations with Hughes Electronics Corp.’s DirecTV amid a struggle over control of the proposed combination, sources said on March 15. News Corp., whose holdings include British Sky Broadcasting, Asia’s Star TV, the Fox television network, the 20th Century Fox film studio, and newspapers such as the “New York Post” and “The Times” of London, “is getting fed up with negotiations with DirecTV,” a source familiar with the talks said.
News Corp. spokesman Andrew Butcher said, “We’re still hopeful for a deal with DirecTV but we are looking at other options as well.” A Hughes spokesman reiterated that the company was in discussions with several parties and also considering several options. He declined to comment further.
News Corp. has requested a meeting with the boards of Hughes and its parent General Motors Corp. to formally present its original proposal, another source familiar with the matter said. The parties had agreed on the outline of a complicated USD 70 billion deal last month that would combine News Corp.’s Sky Global Networks, which holds News Corp.’s satellite operations in Europe, Asia and Australia, with DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite service, creating a potential global powerhouse. But negotiations have bogged down over who will control the combined company and the price of the deal. Under the original proposal, News Corp. would own a 35 percent stake but would control the day-to-day operations.
Other sources have noted that News Corp.’s balance sheet was too debt-ridden to pay cash, forcing it to use to stock to pay for the deal. Software giant Microsoft Corp. is believed to be committing as much as USD 5 billion in cash to the deal. In the meantime, News Corp. opened negotiations with DirecTV’s U.S. rival EchoStar Communications Corp. three weeks ago about combining their satellite operations. EchoStar executives declined to comment. (Reuters)
On March 16 the US government suspended indefinitely the deadline by which AT&T must shed some of its cable holdings to allow federal officials to review the impact of a recent court decision. The Federal Communications Commission put on hold two major deadlines that AT&T had faced as a result of its summer merger with cable company MediaOne. That deal put AT&T in violation of federal rules then in place that limit how many cable and satellite subscribers one business can control.
The commission required AT&T, which had 42 percent of subscribers, to divest enough of its cable assets by May 19 to come under the 30 percent cap. But just two weeks ago, a federal appeals court threw out the FCC’s cable ownership limits, saying they infringe too greatly on free speech. That threw into doubt whether the conditions placed on AT&T’s merger still held.
A majority of the commission has voted to indefinitely push off the May 19 date and an earlier deadline by which AT&T had to say if it could come into compliance on time. The FCC said it needed a chance to determine whether the court decision has any bearing on the merger requirements. During the same sitting, the FCC rejected a similar request by Viacom, which had sought a delay in the date by which it had to shed some holdings. The commission had ordered Viacom to get rid of some TV stations as a result of its merger last year with CBS.
In the AT&T case, consumer groups had argued that the commission, by using its broader public interest authority and not just relying on the cable limits, still could justify requiring the phone company to rid itself of some properties. FCC Chairman Michael Powell said the cable rules were not the sole basis for the agency’s imposition of conditions on the merger. Jim Cicconi, general counsel for AT&T, the nation’s top cable business, said the company would work with the FCC as it continues to make sense of the court’s ruling.
The sweeping decision wiped out restrictions on the number of cable and satellite subscribers one company can control and also erased limits on the amount of programming a cable operator can carry in which it has a financial stake. The FCC is still weighing whether to appeal the court ruling or begin writing new rules – as mandated by Congress. (AP)
The first of a pair of digital audio broadcast satellites soared into orbit on March 19 from an oceangoing platform floating on the equator. The launch of the XM-1 satellite, nicknamed Rock, atop a Zenit-3SL rocket came at 2233 GMT from Odyssey, Sea Launch’s self-propelled platform in the equatorial Pacific, about 2,250 kilometers southeast of Hawaii. An earlier launch attempt of XM Satellite Radio’s other satellite, Roll, was scrubbed in January.
Within months of the May launch of the XM-2 satellite, Washington-based XM hopes to start beaming up to 100 channels of radio programming to subscribers across the United States. The service is aimed at motorists, who would pay a USD 9.95 monthly subscription fee. Specially manufactured radios will receive the satellite broadcasts. The signals will be boosted in large cities by a network of about 1,300 ground antennas.
XM and competitor Sirius Satellite Radio are banking that their services will prove popular with commuters, travelers and truckers. Each company has spent more than dlrs 1 billion building their networks of satellites, antennas and broadcast facilities. New York-based Sirius already has three satellites of its own in orbit, but is not expected to begin its service until the summer. The companies have deals with auto manufacturers to include satellite-capable radios in some models beginning this fall. XM has a deal with General Motors’ Cadillac division and Sirius is working with Ford Motor Co. (AP)
The West Palm Beach locals have left GE-2 (85 degrees West) 12.160 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
WSVN-TV (the Fox affiliate in Miami) has left 4.040 GHz on GE-4 (101 degrees West). (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
GE-8 has replaced Satcom C5 at 139 degrees West. Anik E1 has moved from 111.1 degrees West to 118.7 degrees West.
Anik F1 has replaced Anik E2 at 107.3 degrees West. Anik E2 has replaced Anik E1 at 111.1 degrees West. Anik E1 has moved from 111.1 degrees West to 118.7 degrees West. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
On Telstar 6 (93 degrees West) FX East has started on 3.800 GHz, while HTVN (the Hispanic TV Network) has started on 11.874 GHz in clear Digicipher 2. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
PAS 1R has replaced PAS 1 at 45 degrees West. Red Nacional de Peru has started on PAS 1R on the Latin American beam on 3.942 GHz. Space and I-Sat have started on 3.935 GHz. Telefuturo has started on 3.760 GHz. Red Global has started on 3.849 GHz. TeleOnce has started on 3.969 GHz. EuroChannel has started on 3.867 GHz. Zona Latina and Via X have started on 4.042 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Frecuencia Latina has started on Intelsat 805 (55.5 degrees West) on 4.140 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Yinca TV has started on Nahuel 1A (71.8 degrees West) on 12.162 GHz, Argentinean beam. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
CNN International has started on 12.067 GHz on the Brazilian beam. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
World Net has started on NSS 806 (40.5 degrees West) on 4.140 GHz, while Telecaribe Porlamar has left 3.899 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
The Mir orbiting space station’s fiery plunge to Earth this month ends an era for Russia’s space program, leaving it facing an uncertain future. Buffeted by financial crises, conflicting priorities and brain drain, Russian space chiefs have in the last decade seen their once-proud program crumble to where it little resembles that which took man’s first great leaps toward the stars. And now — 40 years after stunning the West with Sputnik, the first satellite in orbit, and Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space — Russia faces the threat of becoming just a footnote in the history of space exploration. The problem is exemplified by the lost battle to save Mir, which will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean around March 22, bringing Russia’s independent manned space programme to a virtual end. (Reuters)
Eurobird and BSAT 2A were successfully launched with Ariane 5 on March 8.
Eurobird will replace Eutelsat II-F at 28.5 degrees East with 18 transponders in the 11.200-11.700 GHz range and 6 transponders in the 12.500-12.750 GHz range.
BSAT will be positioned at 110 degrees East, and carries 4 transponders in the 11.700-12.200 GHz range. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)