Satellite news 10.10.05


Sky and Disney in cash wrangle over TV carriage

A ten-year-old deal to carry the Disney Channel on Sky Digital has expired without a long-term agreement being agreed for the continued transmission of Disney's digital TV channels. The two broadcasters are reported to be haggling over a new contract and Sky has agreed to roll over the existing deal while the talks to continue. If the negotiations were to break down, Disney could be forced off Sky, although many industry experts think this is unlikely. The original agreement, signed in 1994, is one of the most expensive channel-supply agreements ever negotiated by Sky.

Channel 4's new More 4 channel launches

A new entertainment TV channel from Channel 4, More4, is set to launch on Monday October 10 at 8pm. It will launch on Freeview Channel 13, Sky Digital channel 165, NTL on channel 166 and Telewest on channel 142. A highlight of the first night's schedule will be a comedy drama about David Blunkett. A time-shifted version of the channel called More4 + is scheduled to start on October 17.

The Baby Channel launches on Sky this week

The Baby Channel launches on Monday October 10 on Sky Digital channel number 285. It will broadcast programmes aimed at pregnant women, expectant fathers and parents of pre-school children aged 0-5 years old. The free-to-air station will also be webcast on the Internet at *** It will be on the air every day from 6.00am - 8.00pm, with the channel's flagship programme Baby Talk starting at 8.00am. Programmes have made with medical and parenting organisations including the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the National Childbirth Trust and St John Ambulance.

Sky's boss earned £2.17 million in 2004

Sky's annual report for 2005 reveals that James Murdoch, the chief executive of Sky, was paid £2.17m before pension contributions last year. The total included a £750,000 salary and a £1.2m bonus for surpassing performance targets. The package compares with £1.5m for eight months in the previous year. Murdoch was also awarded 450,000 free shares worth £2.4m, which he can sell from August 2007 if Sky's shares outperform the FTSE 100.

Sky Three unveils its programme schedule

Sky has announced the schedule of programming for its new general entertainment channel Sky Three. The free-to-air channel will launch on Sky Digital and Freeview on October 31 and will broadcast travel shows Airline, Undercover Customs and Far Flung Floyd, plus lifestyle programmes Search of Style, House Sitters and The Filth Files plus the daily magazine show Braniac: Science Abuse. Sky News' 5pm bulletin will simulcast on Sky Three, and in the evening there will be 24 season three, Jake 2.0, Tru Calling and Oliver Beene.

New-look Sky News will debut on October 24

Sky News will begin broadcasting from new look studios on Monday October 24, launching at 6am with Sunrise, anchored by Lorna Dunkley and former GMTV frontman Eamonn Holmes. It will launch a new on-air schedule built by fixed shows tied to specific presenters including Jeremy Thompson, Julie Etchingham, Martin Stanford, Adam Boulton and Kay Burley, who will all have their own shows. Sky News is also switching to a widescreen format.

Premier League and EU to meet over TV dispute

The Premier League and European Commission will reportedly hold last minute talks this week to try to resolve their dispute over broadcasting rights for live football games, as reported by last week. However, with both sides sticking to their guns, the chances of a costly, drawn-out legal battle are high. A stand-off could threaten the league's tight timetable for agreeing with the 20 clubs the 138 games to be broadcast live during the 2007-8 season. The EC said it will soon issue a "statement of objections" to the league's "inadequate" proposals for allowing more than one broadcaster to show live games.

ITV Kids Channel to launch in February 2006

ITV's new childrens channel is set to go on air next February, it has been confirmed by the broadcaster. The channel will launch on February 11 and will show drama, entertainment, animation, factual and pre-school material.

Cable giant NTL takes over Telewest for £3.4bn

NTL has finally agreed to buy smaller rival Telewest for about £3.4bn after a long-running takeover. When combined, they will have TV, phone and broadband Internet customers in about five million UK households compared with eight million for rival Sky. The combined company will also be the second-largest residential telephone company behind BT. NTL and Telewest said they expect the deal to close in the first quarter of 2006 following approval by regulators and both companies' shareholders.

NTL is ready to compete with Sky on football

Cable giant NTL is planning a bid to undercut Sky by offering Premiership football subscription packages for as little as £10 a month, according to press reports. The company is planning to offer an estimated £200m a year for Premiership rights if the European Commission rules that no single broadcaster can bid for more than 50% of the games. In 2003, Sky paid £1.02bn for an exclusive three-year deal to show all live Premiership games. But Simon Duffy, NTL's CEO, said Sky had underpaid for football rights and a fairer auction would generate more cash for clubs. A bid from NTL depends on the EC being successful in restructuring the auction's rules (see story above).

Sir David Frost joins Al Jazeera's new channel

Sir David Frost, the only person to have interviewed the last seven Presidents of the United States and the last six Prime Ministers of the UK, has joined the line-up of presenters at the new 24-hour English-language news and current affairs channel, Al Jazeera International. In a statement, Managing Director Nigel Parsons said: "We are thrilled to have Sir David Frost join Al Jazeera International. He's a one-man international broadcasting phenomenon and our viewers can look forward to the substance and quality that has marked his distinguished career."

Regulation to be kept minimal for Web TV

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell believes new "light touch" regulation should be introduced to govern TV via new media. "We know we need new regulations to reflect the fact that TV services are now being delivered via the net and mobile phones. But we don't want to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, as regulation of these platforms will have an enormous impact on how they develop," she told an industry conference.

News in brief...

The Express Shopping Channel has closed down on Sky Digital and a new teleshopping channel called Pitch TV has moved onto channel 636... UKTV has rubbished reports that it is preparing the launch of its own sports channel... It's has been revealed the BBC paid $375,000 to buy the domain name from a US firm, Boston Business Computing. The BBC still does not use the domain other than to redirect visitors to its main site... The Racing Post newspaper has signed a deal to become the sole broadcast sponsor of the Poker Channel's The World Speed Poker Open... Kids channel CBBC has commissioned a drama documentary on the July 7 London terrorist bombings as seen through the eyes of a child.

Survey: '10 per cent won't have digital by 2012'

Around 10 per cent of UK homes will not have digital TV sets by 2012, when analogue signals will be switched off. That's the conclusion of a new report, commissioned by Ofcom, which states that around 2.3 million homes will not have changed to digital TV by the switchover. Although a high figure, it is half the number predicted by a similar study two years ago.

Sky One show criticised for airing bomb scene

Sky One has been criticised by TV regulator Ofcom for airing an episode of Brainiac: History Abuse in which a caravan was shown being blown up just days after the London tube bombings. A viewer had complained to the regulator that the programme contained details of the names of substances that could be used to make bombs and in view of the events in London on July 7, this was 'inappropriate and offensive.' Sky explained that after any significant event it reviews its schedules to ensure that ‘sensitive’ material is removed, however the episode still aired in this case. Subsequently, having reviewed the programme, the editorial team believed that the tone of the voiceover accompanying the caravan item had been inappropriate in the circumstances. Sky said that it had changed its procedures as a result of the incident. Ofcom said: "We agree that the programme’s scheduling so close to the events of July 7 was ill-judged given the tone of the voiceover accompanying the exploding caravan item. We welcome Sky’s explanation and, in view of the measures it has subsequently put in place, we consider the matter resolved."

Regards Satdude.