Satellite news 23.01.06


New SMS recording facility for Sky+ boxes

Owners of the Sky+ personal video recorder will soon be able to record programmes by simply sending a text message to Sky. The new 'SMS record' facility is scheduled to be launched this Spring. No pricing details have yet been released. Meanwhile, Sky has also said that Sky+ customers will be able to add programmes to their personal planners by pressing the 'green' button on their remotes during trailers.

New Aussie TV channel is coming this summer

A brand new TV channel dedicated to Australian TV shows is on track to be launched this summer. Called 'Down Under TV', the channel from Thomas Cook TV and Enteraction is making preparations for its debut on Sky Digital. It is in talks with several TV producers and distributors about airing Aussie shows including Home and Away, Neighbours and Cell Block H.

Trouble wants to move from kids section of EPG

Trouble, the teen channel, wants to move from the 'kids' category of the Sky EPG after revealing its intentions to target an older audience. Director of programmes Jonathan Webb says that being in the kids section limits the channel's programme schedule and means older teenagers are less likely to tune in. He added: "We're positioning ourselves somewhere between MTV and E4. We're still targeting the same group of people, but in a much cleverer, more sassy way."

HBO considering launch of new UK channel

Popular US film and drama channel Home Box Office (HBO) is once again considering the launch of a spin-off channel for the UK. Simon Sutton, HBO International's president, told an audience at the Oxford Media Convention that the broadcaster is mulling a move into the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy or Japan. "We are investigating a presence in those six markets," he said. No firm decision has been made about a launch and issues about programme rights would have to be resolved since Channel 4 owns HBO's The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, and Sky One owns Deadwood, while the Ricky Gervais show Extras and the historical drama series Rome were among co-produced between the BBC and HBO. It is not the first time HBO has considered starting a UK TV channel. Three years ago, chairman Chris Albrecht said that a UK channel was something he would "love to see", but no finance partners could be found and the plans were shelved.

Teachers' TV escalates EPG complaint

Teachers' TV has complained to media regulator Ofcom over its new EPG location, which will see it move from the documentaries section to the specialist section - from channel 592 to 880. The channel's owner, Education Digital Management Ltd, says the move breaches a satellite platform obligation, but Sky maintains "we have fulfilled all regulatory obligations in respect of Teachers' TV and we look forward to demonstrating this to Ofcom".

Channel 4 calls for more space on Freeview

Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan has asked the government to give the broadcaster free space on Freeview to allow it to launch more channels, rather than a lump cash sum. The Times reports that Channel 4 is concerned that it will struggle to make a profit in the digital age unless the government steps in to help with the cost of migrating to digital. At current rates, a channel slot on Freeview is worth up to Ł5m. Duncan suggested that Channel 4 should have part of a seventh multiplex on Freeview, which it can use to launch new channels, instead of a cash lump sum that would be reinvested into public service programming. If the government agrees to Duncan's demands it will not be able to give the channel additional spectrum on Freeview until after digital switchover, which is earmarked to be completed by 2012. Last year, when the BBC model of funding was called into question, Duncan touched on the Ł100m-a-year shortfall in the lead-up to digital switchover and requested the BBC licence fee be top-sliced so Channel 4 could carve out its future.

Channel 4 axes red button interactive services

In a surprise move, Channel 4 has removed all its red button interactive services. It comes after Chief Executive Andy Duncan described the services as "clunky and inefficient." He added that the broadcaster is spending several million pounds a year on the services and that the money could be put to better use providing Web and broadband content. Duncan said: "The red button service does not help Channel 4 fulfil its public service remit and it doesn't offer a way to make money."

Discovery confirms it will be in Sky HD line-up

Discovery has confirmed that its high-definition channel Discovery HD will launch early this year as part of Sky's inaugural HDTV service. Discovery HD was rolled out in South Korea, Japan and Canada in 2005 and is in the process of launching in Germany and Austria. The channel offers more than 1,000 hours from Discovery's library as well as original programming commissioned specifically for Discovery HD.

Two Sky film channels renamed ahead of HD launch

Sky has announced that two of its film channels are to be renamed in readiness for the launch of its new HD service. On January 30th, Sky Movies 9 and Sky Movies 10 will be renamed in the Sky Guide as Sky Movies 9 HD and Sky Movies 10 HD. Also, Sky Movies 10 will be launching on Sky Digital on the same day on channel 310.

Culture Secretary takes EU regulators to task

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has taken European regulators to task, telling the Oxford Media Convention that ongoing plans to overhaul European broadcasting rules could do "lasting damage" to Europe's creative businesses. Citing the Television Without Frontiers directive, which governs broadcasting rules across the EU, Jowell said that plans to introduce regulation of the Internet for the first time would damage business prospects. In particular, the draft directive could stifle the development of new media such as TV via mobile phone and the Web, she said. "If the directive turns its back on wealth creation by imposing a highly bureaucratic regulatory framework, then it will do immense and lasting damage to Europe's creative economy."

Sky News begins review of its new schedule

Sky bosses are casting a critical eye over Sky News just three months after a multi-million pound revamp saw the arrival at the station of Eamonn Holmes, former Bill Clinton aide James Rubin and a new era of 'appointment to view' programming. Sky Networks managing director, Dawn Airey, and news chief Nick Pollard are reported to be reviewing the new-look schedule and how specific shows are performing. Holmes has failed to significantly boost breakfast audiences and Kay Burley's lunchtime show is felt to be one of the few major successes of the relaunch.

Digital TV news in brief...

On Sky Digital channel 647, Tel Sell is now known as Pitch TV Plus... Abu Dhabi TV has been removed from Sky Digital channel 824... Channel Five will be launching new on-air idents based on emotions over the next few days... Media regulator Ofcom is to be given a role in assessing the market impact of proposed new BBC services, helping determine whether they should be given the go-ahead... ITV is poised to double its existing 45% holding in Irish commercial broadcaster TV3 after joint shareholder CanWest Global put its own 45% stake up for sale... The Football League has signed a three-year deal with Octagon CSI to distribute the international TV rights to the Coca-Cola Football League and the Carling Cup. Football League matches are currently shown in more than 90 countries worldwide with a combined reach of 165million homes... In the US, American Idol's fifth season debut attracted the largest entertainment audience to date for the Fox Network, with a total of 55million viewers tuning in to watch. to new TV shopping channel?

Internet retailer has prompted speculation that it may launch its own TV shopping channel after starting a weekly TV talk show, presented over the Internet with the comedian Bill Maher as host. The half-hour show, called Amazon Fishbowl, has a format familiar to US late-night talk shows, with a monologue by Maher, followed by an interview with an author, a conversation with a filmmaker and a performance by a musician or musical group. The common theme among the guests is that they will have products for sale through its online site. There is speculation among media watchers that the programme could be spun off into a dedicated TV channel.

New Sky digibox software being released

Sky has begun uploading a brand new version of its Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) software to Digiboxes. The broadcaster is currently deploying version 4 of the EPG using over-the-air software upgrades. The software also includes fixes for several Live Pause and Rewind bugs affecting Sky+ boxes.

Regards Satdude.