Satellite news 20.12.05


New Sky-branded download service launches

Sky has launched a new broadband movie and sports video-download service called 'Sky by broadband' which is free for its premium subscribers in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Movie downloads are free to Sky digital customers with Sky Movies 1 and 2 subscriptions, while sports videos are free to customers with Sky Sports 1 and 2 subscriptions. The service can be accessed at:


ITV News Channel to shut down this week

After months of rumours, ITV has confirmed it is closing down its 24-hour news channel, deciding instead to increase its investment in on-demand services, current affairs programming and the creation of a Beijing bureau. The ITV News Channel has been on air for five years but will shut down on December 23rd, giving way on Freeview to a new ITV-branded children's channel in the New Year. The channel has struggled to win ratings against fierce competition from Sky News and BBC News 24.

Sky notches up eight millionth subscriber

Sky has finally hit its 8m subscriber target - meeting its December 31 target. James Murdoch, Skys Chief Executive, said in a statement: "Sky is achieving strong growth. Nearly one in three homes and counting have chosen Sky and we are especially well placed to broaden Skys appeal as entertainment and communications come together. We thank our current and future Sky customers for joining in and for helping to make Britain one of the worlds leading digital TV marketplaces." Skys key operational targets for the medium term are to reach 10 million DTH subscribers in 2010, with 25 per cent penetration of Sky+ and 30 per cent Multiroom penetration.

Two Sky bosses announce their departures

Chief operating officer Richard Freudenstein is quitting the broadcaster to return to his native Australia, while Managing director of Sky Interactive Ian Sheppard is to join mobile phone giant Vodafone. Freudenstein will step down next summer after more than six years in the role, having started out at the company in 1999 as general manager. Sky said he would continue to play a key role over the next few months, focusing on the launch of high-definition TV and other rights deals. Meanwhile, managing director of Sky Interactive, Ian Sheppard is leaving at the end of this month. Ian Shepherd's key achievement has been to oversee the extensive re-design of the Sky Active portal.

Eutelsat offers HDTV coverage of Olympics

Eutelsat, which has already agreed a deal with Japanese public broadcaster NHK to carry HDTV coverage of the Winter Olympic Games in Turin in February 2006, is to offer selected broadcasters the opportunity to trial HD services by providing an MPEG-4 H.264 feed. Cristiano Benzi, Eutelsat Project Manager for Torino 2006, said Italian state broadcaster RAI would be providing a trial HD service. In addition to the MPEG-4 availability, Benzi suggested that "greater visibility" would be achieved with an MPEG-2 feed, accepting that the timing of the Turin games was slightly too early for MPEG-4 STBs to be sufficiently widespread. "It would have been a risk to have bet on volume supplies of MPEG-4 STBs being available," he conceded. "Those betting on commercial HD are focusing on (football World Cup) Germany 2006."

Digital TV news in brief...

Trevor McDonald, the UK's favorite TV newsreader, will present the ITN late-night news bulletin for the last time on Thursday December 22... Two new channels have been added to Telewest's digital cable service - they are the Biography Channel and Zee Cinema... MTV and Microsoft are linking up to launch a new music downloading service... X Factor judge Simon Cowell has signed up with ITV for another two years... BBC 10 O'Clock News editor Kevin Bakhurst has been promoted to controller of BBC News 24... ITV and the BBC are embroiled in a battle over who gets what in the World Cup with both broadcasters wanting the rights to a potential clash against Germany in the second round... Channel 4 has enlisted founder Martha Lane Fox as the broadcaster gears up to battle with the UK's independent production sector over new media rights... Former filmmaker David Puttnam has been appointed deputy chairman of Channel 4... Solent TV will launch on Sky next March.

Regards Satdude.