NORDIC MEDIA NEWS
For some months now we’ve been sending headlines from our daily English programs as SMS messages to mobile telephones, as an experiment. Unfortunately, the service from Telia that was handling the messages seems to have developed a technical fault. In any case, it also imposed an unrealistic limit on the number of subscribers. While we are searching for an alternative, donät forget you can have each day’s Radio Sweden headlines sent directly to you via e-mail. You can subscribe by sending a message to:
As well as on WAP-equipped mobile telephones at:
We’re adding a new frequency of 6065 kHz for the month of April to relay our Swedish programming Saturdays at 06:00-08:00 hrs UTC and Sundays at 07:00-09:00 hrs UTC. We continue with 9495 and 17505 kHz.
Sweden has a long history of public service broadcasting, which includes Radio Sweden. The government has just released the details of the new public broadcasting bill, which covers the next four years. On the line in today’s program I’ve got Lars Marén, Senior Advisor at the Swedish Ministry of Culture, who tells us how the new legislation differs from the current situation.
In the last edition of the program I talked to Magnus Nilsson of Teracom about the pending arrival of digital shortwave. His comments provoked a letter from Gary McSweeney in Northern Ireland, offering some criticism of digital shortwave and in defence of the current analog system:
“Everyone seems to assume that their transmission will be the one chosen by the receiver decoder and presented through the loudspeaker to the audience. But what will happen in marginal conditions when more than one station is on the same channel simultaneously? At present I can still listen to the weaker station and extract information without too much difficulty providing the stronger station is not totally overwhelming. In reality, the coverage for a given broadcast will, in the digital world, be greatly reduced, although when received be of higher quality. Is this really what everyone wants? I fear, the great joy from Broadcasting Listening as a hobby will be greatly compromised.”
I forwarded those comments to Magnus Nilsson at Teracom, and here’s his e-mail answer:
“In principal you will only hear one station and digital reception of two
different data streams from two different sources is not possible. However,
this will not make the service area smaller. The digital AM standard gives a
selection of different levels of robustness. For the coverage of a difficult path the broadcaster would select a mode of the digital modulation of the signal that gives a high error protection but less bytes left for the audio and/or data. For easier paths the broadcaster can offer more bits for the audio and/or data and less for the protection of the signal.
“Compare this to the analog case. Almost all broadcasters try so use the
appropriate power of the transmission in the analog world. In our case, 350
kW for some transmissions and 500 kW for more difficult ones. Naturally, in the analog case, the selection of appropriate power also takes into account the presence of co and/or adjacent channel broadcasts.
“The joy of the hobby of DXing, in terms of using special conditions in the
ionsphere to catch rare signals, will remain also when all AM goes analog.
Also low power digial tropical band stations will be able to travel over
large distances even if they have digital modulation. As the antenna techniques will remain, good antennas, directed dipoles or beverage antennas, will still do a good work in giving the listener signals from the specific direction.
“Finally, it should be borne in mind that not everything on the AM-bands
will turn digital at once. The time when both analog and digital will co-exist will be significant.”
Meanwhile, a shortwave listener in Mexico City called Gabriel has asked a question about digital shortwave on our Internet discussion forum Talkback. Gabriel writes:
“In the program you mention that digital shortwave radio will be out in stores by next year. I would like to know, if it will come out in all the world or just Sweden?”
And the answer from Magnus Nilsson is that the new digital shortwave receivers are supposed to be available everywhere when they come out. Time will tell if that actually happens.
TV Puls has started regular transmissions on Sirius 2 (5 degrees East) on 12.640 GHz. ICTV has left 12.634 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
On May 1 Viasat will close down the analog versions of TV1000, TV1000 Cinema, TV6, Hallmark, Nickelodeon, Playboy, VH-1, Viasat Sport, Travel, and MTV at both 5 degrees East and 1 degree West. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
Writing in “Aftonbladet”, TV columnist Frank Oestergren praises Viasat’s CEO Ulf Groth, among other things for reaching agreement with rival Canal Digital on a common digitial satellite TV standard from the beginning of next year. He does point out that Viasat’s dual conflict with both the state and public broadcaster SVT continues. While SVT refuses to allow its channels to join the Viasat digital package, Viasat insists on special subscription fees for putting its channels in the terrestrial digital TV network, fees so high as to practically guarantee the system’s failure. (Which eliminates competition for Viasat’s satellite digital offerings and its cable network Kabelvision.)
Public broadcaster Danmarks Radio has won the licence for that country’s fourth national radio network, over commercial rivals MTG (Viasat) and SBS. (“OnAir Sweden” via “Public Access” newsletter)
Under the headline “The Government Betrays Organizations” the “Public Access” newsletter describes the continuing process of turning over community radio channels to commercial radio stations. Set up more than 20 years ago, Swedish community radio is supposed to consist of non-profit organizations, from labor unions to peace groups and religious congregations. All are granted blocks of time on common transmitters. But the authorities have permitted groups using transmitters to organize together, which has led to a broadcasts from a single organization composed of all the licencees, and often carrying commercials in contradiction to the intent of the legislation, and featuring primarily music.
A more recent development has seen the local organizations turning over their frequencies to commercial stations who already have licences somewhere else in the country. The most recent example is Stockholm’s Radio Vinyl, which has taken over the community radio transmitter in Landskrona in the far south of the country. While Vinyl has to pay for its commercial licence in Stockholm, and while its commercial rival in southern Sweden, Radio Helsingborg, has to pay for its licence, the Landskrona community radio licence is free. (“Helsingborgs Dagblad” via “Public Access” newsletter)
Altogether commercial operators have taken over community radio frequencies in 14 Swedish towns. According to a reliable source, the government plans to continue to allow this commercialization of community radio. (“Public Access” newsletter”)
We have our first nominee for this year’s coveted Clueless in Cyberspace Award. Sweden’s largest cable operator, Comhem (formerly Telia), has yet to discover that BBC World Service radio has switched transponders on Astra (see below) and is currently pumping out 24 hours of white noise on both analog 101.4 MHz FM and on digital cable. After two e-mails pointing out the change, Comhem wrote back to say they would do something about it “as soon as the change is finished” (this written four days after “the change” was “finished”).
Another potential “Clue-ie” nominee is Major League Baseball in the United States. After several years of free access to games from local broadcasters, both live and archived on the web in RealAudio, and after an excellent job with lived and archived web-only game commentary during Spring Training, now that the season has started, MLB Radio says it will be charging 10 dollars for access to regular games. That’s bad enough….But so far it only seems to involve live broadcasts. Three days into the season, there’s no sign of archived games available on demand, which is more or less the whole point of webcasting.
The owner of the Astra satellites, Luxembourg’s SES, has become the world’s largest satellite operator by buying GE Americom for close to 50 billion dollars, according to the “Wall Street Journal”. SES already owns half of the Nordic Satellite Company (NSAB), operator of the Sirius satellites. Sweden’s Sirius 2 satellite is already shared between NSAB and GE Americom, which gives SES three-quarters of the satellite. SES also owns 34 percent of Asiasat and has other interests in Brazil. SES’s 11 European satellites carry more than 1000 TV and radio channels to more than 80 million households in Europe. GE Americom owns North America’s largest satellite fleet, with 15 orbiters. (“Dagens IT”)
Forecasters say a solar flare is the most intense they have seen in the current 11-year-solar cycle. Space weather forecasters had to estimate its intensity, X-22 on a scale that only goes to 20, after sensors on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite could no longer measure it. They said the measurement could be off by plus or minus 2. The flare caused static on radio frequencies used to navigate boats and planes. Pilots in northern regions of the globe Monday (April 2) were kept waiting for takeoff after the flare occurred at 21:52 hrs UTC, said NOAA space weather forecaster Craig Sechrest. A solar flare is an eruption on the surface of the sun that releases radiation and particles toward the earth. (AP)
With the closedown of UK Gold’s analog transponder on Astra on April 1, BBC World Service radio switched to the CNBC transponder on 10.729 GHz, retaining the same audio channel of 7.38 MHz. BBC Radio 4 disappeared as well. But contrary to the recording played on the channel for a few hours before closedown, Radio 4 is still available to analog listeners in Europe, having also moved to the CNBC transponder, audio channel 7.74 MHz. BBC Radio 3 is on 7.56 MHz.
TV Puls has started regular transmissions on 11.876 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Virgin Radio is now transmitting on the Sky News transponder on Astra (11.313 GHz) on audio subcarrier 7.56 MHz. Tamil Broadcasting has begun on the Sudwest R-P transponder (10.891 GHz) on 7.92 MHz. (Richard Karlsson in “Aftonbladet”)
The new youth lifestyle channel Where It’s At is one of several new channels joining the Sky Digital package over the next fortnight. It will launch on April 12. Meanwhile, the new music channel Kerrang joins the digital lineup this week, and Film Four’s three new channels (Film Four +1, Film Four World and Film Four Extreme) will launch on April 7. (“What Satellite TV”)
MTV is to launch its seventh music channel on Sky Digital and rename existing channel MTV Extra as MTV Hits. The new channel, MTV Dance, will debut on April 20 and will be on air for 11 hours a day from 19:00-06:00 BST. It will feature club-based programming including MTV’s hour-long weekly club magazine show Dance Floor Chart Show. The launch comes after research showed that 47 percent of 16 to 34 year-olds said dance was their favourite music. (“What Satellite TV”)
The personal finance channel Simply Money is to close down on April 16 after its backers decided to pull the plug on the loss-making venture. The channel, which was launched a year ago, will be replaced by a new shopping channel called Simply Shopping. A spokesman said it would be wound down quickly so that owners Invest TV can focus on launching Simply Shopping. “The investors thought shopping would offer a much better pportunity for returning their investment so it was decided to change the format,” said the spokesman. Meanwhile, Simply Money is airing repeats until the close down. (“What Satellite TV”)
Rainbow Network, the gay and lesbian Internet portal, will launch a new digital TV channel this autumn, to be called RNTV, on both British satellite and cable. Although the channel will not initially offer any interactive features, there are plans to generate income via subscription and a dating premium telephone line. (“What Satellite TV”)
BBC World Service radio is more popular than ever, with a record 153 million people reportedly tuning in every week. And the service is growing in popularity via the Internet too, with monthly page views more than doubling to 40 million in the last year. (News World Media Brief)
The British terrestrial digital television company ONdigital said on April 2 it is considering a name change to link the brand with its two shareholders, well-known commercial TV companies Granada and Carlton. But having spent so much effort and money to establish the brand for the digital terrestrial TV service, he also said there would be “some clear disadvantages” to renaming it ITV Digital. The Sunday Business newspaper reported that ONdigital might relaunch the service under the new name to help it compete more effectively with satellite group BSkyB and the cable TV operators, Telewest and NTL.
Carlton and Granada, ONdigital’s joint owners, want to unite the ITV commercial TV brand across different platforms, which could include the creation of a single itv.com for their online ventures. But ONdigital — which now has more than one million subscribers compared with 4.7 million for Sky and one million digital subscribers on cable — has spent millions of pounds on advertising its brand over the past few years. Carlton and Granada now dominate ITV, following Granada’s purchase of TV assets from United last year.
ONdigital would also change the name of its sports service ONsport to ITV Sport, Sunday Business said. (Reuters)
France should ban advertising during children’s programs on public and some private TV, a French deputy said April 2 in a parliamentary report. But Socialist deputy Jean-Marie LeGuen, presenting his report on how France should bring in land-based digital television, said he had not yet had a reaction to this proposal from Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. He said he wanted France to back Sweden, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, in its bid to restrict advertising to children across the 15-nation bloc. Sweden, which banned TV advertising of products directed at children under 12 in 1991, has met resistance to its plans from the European Commission’s audiovisual policy division, while Britain, Germany and France favour self-regulation. Denmark, Belgium, Finland and Greece currently also have rules limiting TV advertising to children.
LeGuen’s report recommends that France authorise 30 channels for land-based digital broadcasts, that around a third of land-based digital capacity be reserved for pay TV and that an existing rule limiting shareholdings in French TV channels to 49 percent be applied flexibly for the new broadcasting technology. He also recommends that public television holding company France Television sell its 7.5 percent stake in digital satellite TV service TPS (Television par Satellite). (Reuters)
Serbia’s RTS Sat has left Eutesat II-F4 (28.5 degrees East) 11.188 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
EuroSport News (18:00-24:00 hrs CET) and Italy’s RAI News 24 (00:00-18:00 hrs CET) are sharing Hot Bird 1 (13 degrees East) 11.390 GHz in PAL, recently vacated by EuroSport. TV Globo Internactional has started on Hot Bird 2 on 12.092 GHz, recently vacated by Retelsat. Daimler-Chrysler TV has started on Hot Bird 3 on 12.265 GH. Magic Peiraia has started on 12.188 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Rete Sette has started on Eutelsat W2 (16 degrees East) on 10.957 GHz. OBN has left 11.019 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
NPR Worldwide is now officially available on digital satellite in Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and North Africa. It’s part of the same package with Radio Sweden, on Hot Bird 5 (13 degrees East) on 12.597 GHz (SR 27500, FEC 3/4). The analog service on Astra ends on April 30, 2001. NPR is also available via Sky Digital to the extent that a few hours a day are relayed as part of the World Radio Network on EPG channel 937. (NPR Worldwide)
Eutelsat’s new Eurobird satellite is currently testing at 33 degrees East. It will be permanently positioned at 28.5 degrees East, where its 24 Ku-band transponders will be brought into service later this month. (Eutelsat and “LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Elefante Telemarket has started on Telecom 2A (8 degrees West) on 12.696 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
MM and Ring Plus have started on Express 3A (11 degrees West) on 3.984 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
TV Puls has started regular transmissions on Telstar 12 (15 degrees West) on 11.600 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Journalists at Russia’s only independent nationwide television station NTV protested on April 4 against a takeover by a state-dominated gas firm amid reports that CNN founder Ted Turner was to buy into the channel. The journalists at NTV have angrily rejected a boardroom takeover on April 3 by the gas firm Gazprom, which the journalists say is the tool the authorities are using to seize the channel and silence a vocal critic. The boardroom coup saw Gazprom-nominated directors take over key positions and ousted NTV’s founder Vladimir Gusinsky. Gusinsky, fighting extradition from Spain on fraud charges he says are part of the clampdown on his media outlets, has tried to attract international investment in NTV. CNN quoted a source as saying Turner and Gusinsky had clinched an outline deal. Gusinsky’s Media-Most holding company said it had no information. The Washington Post cited sources as saying the deal was worth USD 225 million.
The journalists’ protests against the takeover at the station, based at Moscow’s Ostankino television tower, saw many of them spend all night at their desks. The action continued with a break to normal programming to show only news programs, interpersed with commercials. NTV is by far the most influential source of information outside Kremlin control. Two other national stations, ORT and RTR, are either state-controlled or fully state-owned. NTV’s case is widely seen as a test of President Vladimir Putin’s tolerance of dissent, although the Kremlin says it is above the fight. Gazprom says the affair is purely financial as Media-Most owed its millions of dollars in loans.
More than 10,000 NTV supporters gathered at the weekend in one of the largest demonstrations Moscow has seen in years. Organisers said a similar protest could be held this weekend. (Reuters)
On Nilesat 101/102 (7 degrees West) The Showtime Network mux has ceased on 12.226 GHz, and is now only on 11.996 GHz. The ART mux on 11.900 GHz has moved to 11.958, encoded in Irdeto. Tamima TV Shopping Channel has started on 11.843 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Zee TV Asia has started on PAS 4 (68.5 degrees East) on 11.524 GHz (European beam). The Showtime Network mux has left PAS 7 (same position) 11.130 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
The Chinese government is battling with foreign radio broadcasters to dominate the airwaves above Tibet and the western Chinese deserts. The official news agency Xinhua said: “Infiltration by hostile radio stations from abroad into our region has lately become more serious.”
As a result Beijing has stepped up the number of programs in local languages, upgraded or replaced transmitters so they can reach deep into the most distant areas, and increased efforts to jam “hostile” short wave broadcasts. (News World Media Brief)
Hughes Electronics Corp. Chairman Michael Smith on March 29 shot down News Corp. Ltd’s offer to acquire Hughes, calling it undervalued, and hit out at reports that he had put personal interests ahead of his shareholders. Hughes, owner of the highly-coveted DirecTV pay television satellite service, and its parent General Motors Corp. have been negotiating to sell Hughes to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for months, but talks have yet to lead to a signed deal. Billionaire Murdoch has made no secret of his desire to land Hughes and its prize DirecTV asset which he sees as the dream deal to complement his own satellite TV holding Sky Global and create a USD 70 billion global satellite TV provider.
According to industry sources, News Corp. is offering stock for Hughes, while partner Microsoft Corp. would invest USD 4 billion to USD 5 billion and John Malone’s cable TV company Liberty Media Corp. would invest USD 1 billion. But news reports have suggested that Smith is not happy with the deal on the table which would see Murdoch heading the new company, with some suggesting Smith has put his personal ambition for control ahead of shareholders’ interests.
In the meantime, News Corp has also been holding talks with U.S. satellite TV operator EchoStar Communications Corp — a company newspapers have also linked with DirecTV. (Reuters)
The Iraq Satellite Channel has started on Telstar 5 (97 degrees West) on 11.874 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Jade Channel has left GE 4 (101 degrees West) on 12.140 GHz (NTSC). (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
Local television reporters in the US are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the amount of emphasis placed on ‘live’ reports, a new survey suggests. The survey, carried out by journalism professor C.A. Tuggle, said reporters complained they could not properly do their fact-finding job when they were effectively tethered to a live unit.
Tuggle concluded: “Simply put, most stories that were reported live contained no late-breaking news and did not, in a journalistic sense, warrant live coverage at all.” (News World Media Brief)
U.S. residents with a hankering for television shows such as British soap Coronation Street are finding them by buying Canadian satellite equipment from dealers who help them set up fake Canadian addresses. Canadian satellite companies Star Choice and Bell ExpressVu are not licensed to sell their services in the United States. The channels they broadcast have not purchased rights to air their programming in the United States.
“It is a reverse grey market,” said Peter Classon, president of Star Choice Communications Inc., Canada’s second-largest satellite TV distributor.
For years, Canadian satellite operators have fought to eliminate similar schemes that saw potential customers in Canada taking a U.S. service by providing a fake address or smuggling dishes in from the United States.
Mr. Classon said Star Choice is looking into how widespread the reverse grey market is and what remedies are available. The company was made aware of the issue this month through an article in Canadian Communications Reports, an industry trade journal, he said.
Star Choice had 562,000 registered customers as of February 28. Each customers needs a Canadian address to activate the receiver for their satellite dish. Mike Kohl, a satellite equipment dealer in Plain, Wisconsin, said he has sold Canadian satellite equipment to “hundreds” of people, who he has referred to a “programming broker” to get a Canadian addresses and pay their bills. The Canadian services are being marketed as a bargain because of the low dollar.
Another sales pitch is non-Canadian residents who lost access to shows such as Coronation Street in January, when the CBC switched its C-band transmissions from analogue to digital, can receive the public broadcaster through Star Choice or ExpressVu.
Denis Carmel, a spokesman for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, said the federal broadcast regulator doesn’t have jurisdiction over the reverse grey market. (“Financial Posts”)
TV Diario has started on Brasilsat B1 (70 degrees West) on 4.070 GHz, in PAL. Band News has started on 3.790, while Rede Familia has left 4.157 GHz. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
A high-definition video was transmitted over the Internet last week from the University of Hawaii’s Manoa Campus to the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, CA. Wayne Rash, editor of events at InternetWeek, who coordinated the effort, made no mention of possible use of the system to transmit HDTV movies and television programs. Rather, he said, it could be useful for “distance learning,” particularly in medicine, where higher-resolution images are particularly important in order to study microscopic structures and in architecture where models can be shown from all angles. (“satelitv”)
The launch of PAS 10 has been delayed from April 4 to May. (“LyngSat Weekly Updates”)
New Skies Satellites N.V. has ordered a satellite worth up to USD 500 million from Boeing Satellite Systems, the aerospace company said March 28. The Boeing 702 satellite is to be sent into orbit in the third quarter of 2003 by Sea Launch, a satellite launch company that is 40 percent owned by Boeing Co. Once in orbit, the satellite will provide commercial content throughout the Americas. That could include video, broadband or other multimedia services, the companies said.
Also March 28, Boeing announced that three Boeing 702 satellites previously ordered by Hughes Spaceway would be set for launch in 2002 and 2003. Those satellites, which will be used for high-speed broadband access in North America, will also be sent up by Sea Launch, company spokeswoman Paula Korn said. Hughes Spaceway also reiterated its commitment to buy six more Boeing satellites for commercial use over Asia and Europe. Boeing bought the satellite business of Hughes Electronics Corp. last fall and renamed it Boeing Satellite Systems. It has 12 firm orders and eight options for its 702 satellite. (AP)