Satellite news 12.10.04



The BBC is in discussions with Boeing to start
providing airline passengers with live in-flight
television. The US aircraft maker plans to start
offering live TV next spring through its Connexion by
Boeing system which entered service with the German
flag carrier Lufthansa in May and has also been
selected by seven other airlines. Passengers will be
able to choose from four live channels supplied by
different broadcasters, by connecting their laptops to
an on-board internet service. As well as the BBC,
Boeing is also thought to have approached the US cable
television network CNN. One of the BBC programmes
which could be screened is the News 24 channel. The
Connexion service costs $29.95 for unlimited access on
long-haul flights of more than six hours. There is
also a pay-by-the-minute tariff.

Flextech, the programming arm of cable group Telewest,
is to launch a new channel specialising in reality and
entertainment TV. The group, which runs the UKTV
network in partnership with BBC Worldwide, is aiming
to launch Living TV 2 by the end of the year in a bid
to turn Living into the UK's "sixth" main TV channel.
The channel, already home to controversial shows such
as Extreme Makeover, said it intends to use the
channel to broadcast the latest reality shows and to
beef up coverage of its monthly TV events such as Most
Haunted Live.

BBC World has beat S*y News, EuroNews and Rai Med to
win Europe's Best News Channel at the Hot Bird awards,
which celebrate multichannel broadcasting in Europe.
The BBC was described as "the most complete and
exhaustive source of TV news in the year 2004" by an
independent panel of media journalists. Several
hundred television channels were eligible to enter the
Hot Bird TV Awards, organised by the satellite
operator Eutelsat, which took place at a ceremony in
Venice, Italy. BBC World was also named Best News
Channel at the Hot Bird TV awards in 1998 and in 2002,
specifically in recognition of its coverage of the
attacks on the US on September 11 2001. No other
channel has received the award three times.

Hopes of a merger between broadcasters Channel 4 and
Five have been boosted after the owners of Channel
Five said they were prepared to accept a minority
share of a combined group, The Times newspaper has
reported. "We are prepared to go to a minority
position in a combined company. The idea of 4 and Five
was not that we would take over Channel 4. Both
channels need to be bigger," Gerhard Zeiler, CEO of
European TV broadcaster RTL, which jointly owns Five
with UK-based United Business Media, was quoted as
saying in the October 5 edition of the newspaper. "I
think we will know by the end of the year whether this
deal can be done. It will only be done if both sides
are willing to say yes," Zeiler was quoted as saying.
The Times said Zeiler and the bosses of publicly owned
Channel 4 met for the first time last month.

BBC has agreed a new five-year deal with the Celtic
Unions (Irish Rugby Football Union, Scottish Rugby
Union and Welsh Rugby Union), giving BBC exclusive
rights to show their Autumn Internationals on network
television from 2005-2009 inclusive. The deal
includes: all home rugby Internationals for Wales,
Scotland and Ireland; all matches against Regional
sides during the Autumn International period (or Six
Nations 'A' team Internationals); live Celtic Cup
rights for BBC Scotland and highlights rights for BBC
Northern Ireland (BBC Wales already have a separate
contract for the Celtic League games), with the Cup
Final to be shown on network television in
Grandstand*. Coupled with the Six Nations, BBC now has
all international rugby hosted in the UK until the end
of the decade, with the exception of the England
Autumn tests to which BBC currently has highlights

ITV is in talks about the sale of its digital
channels, Plus and Men & Motors, as part of its
strategy to sell off its non-core assets to create a
more streamlined ITV. ITV holds a 50.5% stake in the
channels, which it co-owns with BS*yB as part of
Granada S*y Broadcasting. According to industry
insiders, ITV is hoping to sell its stake to S*y,
which will enable the satellite broadcaster to
increase its dominance in the men's market against
other digital channels including Flextech's Bravo.
Another option being mooted is a management buyout, if
staff could raise enough from a private investment
company. Men & Motors launched in 1997 as part of a
suite of joint ventures between Granada and BS*yB. It
has now been disbanded with its responsibility
absorbed into the main ITV Sales division.

As part of a strategy to create a homogenised network
of international lifestyle channels, the Discovery
Home & Leisure is set for a name change and a
redefinition of its demographic focus towards the end
of 2005. The channel will be rebranded Discovery Real
Time to bring it in line with its sister networks,
currently rolling out worldwide. Real Time will be
aimed at men age 25-45, featuring practical
programming for men, centring on men's channel
regulars like motors, workshop activities, gadgets,
fitness and grooming. The channel is one of three
lifestyle channels currently being rolled out in
markets from India to Europe, besides Discovery Travel
& Living and Discovery Home & Health.

The Irish language TV station TG4 is preparing to
broadcast officially from Northern Ireland, industry
sources have told The Belfast Telegraph. The channel,
known as Teilifis na Gaeilige, is thought to be
involved in preparatory work on the transmitter on
Divis Mountain. The plan to broadcast TG4 north of the
border has its roots in the Good Friday Agreement,
which called on the British Government to work with
the broadcasting authorities to explore "the scope for
achieving more widespread availability of Teilifis na
Gaeilige in Northern Ireland". Much of the land area
of the province already receives the channel as a
result of so-called overspill from southern
transmitters, but the most populous areas around
Belfast do not. The final go-ahead for the plans is
subject to approval from the EU and the holders to the
rights to some of the programmes broadcast on TG4.


SBS president and CEO Markus Tellenbach on October 4
outlined major new channel expansion plans and said
the terrestrial broadcast group is on the lookout for
acquisition and consolidation opportunities. SBS,
which operates 10 analogue terrestrial channels in
Central and Eastern Europe across a footprint of 140
million homes, said it plans to launch themed digital
channels in its key markets. Tellenbach said the
group, which spans 14 countries, also is exploring
opportunities to grow horizontally through possible
partnerships with free television partners.

GlobeCast has announced a long-term agreement with
Prime TV to deliver 24-hour Pakistani family channel
PTV Prime to subscribers in the UK, Ireland and
Europe. The deal sees GlobeCast providing an
end-to-end distribution service for the subscription
channel which will be available on GlobeCast's
direct-to-home platforms via Eurobird and Hot Bird. In
the UK and Ireland, PTV Prime will reach 7.5 million
people on S*y Digital. PTV Prime was the first 24-hour
Pakistani channel to launch in Europe and has
exclusive rights to broadcast state-owned Pakistan
Television (PTV) content outside Asia. Offering a mix
of family programming in English and Urdu, it features
programmes created specifically for European-based
Pakistanis, Urdu and Punjabi families as well as PTV
content. PTV Prime also airs live news bulletins nine
times daily from the PTV News Network in Asia. To
provide the feeds for the European news and
programming content, GlobeCast downlinks PTV News and
Pakistan TV from AsiaSat 3S in Singapore and backhauls
it over its global fibre network to London via
America. GlobeCast also provides an end-to-end managed
satellite distribution service which includes an
uplink from Brookmans Park to Eurobird and Hot Bird,
enabling the channel to reach a potential 100 million
viewers across the UK and Europe.


Bulgarians who connect to cable television networks
without a subscription could face imprisonment of up
to five years, according to local press reports.
Pirating the networks was penalized by fresh
amendments to the Penal Code, according to Magdalena
Georgieva, consultant at the national cable television
association "TV Club 2000". At the beginning of
October, operators in most of Bulgaria introduced
higher prices for their services. Capital Sofia saw an
increase of about 28% in monthly subscription prices,
which jumped from ?7 to ?9. Sofia's leading cable TV
providers have said the move was prompted partly by
boosted fees to the Bulgarian Telecommunications
Company (BTC). The telecom, on the contrary, said that
it hasn't charged the operators any different since


BBC Worldwide has signed a carriage deal with Danish
cable network TDC Kabel TV for its BBC Food network,
expanding the channel's reach by 650,000 subscriber
households. Miriam Igelsř Hvidt, the program director
at TDC, noted, "We have added BBC Food following its
huge popularity when it was trialled on our Wish
Channel. BBC Food is the only channel in Denmark fully
devoted to food and cooking, which is a very popular
nowadays. With many programs on BBC Food now subtitled
in Danish, the channel is even more attractive to our
customers." BBC Food will broadcast on TDC daily,
sharing with the newly launched TV2 Charlie channel on
TDC's Middle Package.


Canal Plus Group posted half-year revenues on October
1 of $906 million, slightly down from $919 million in
2003, while profits increased to $23.5 million from
$19.8 million the year before. For the first time
since 2000, Canal Plus saw a rise in subscriptions, to
4.88 million compared with 4.86 million in the first
half of 2003. Canal's exceptional income came in at
$3.7 million, a $32 million hike from the first half
of 2003 when the group posted an exceptional expense
of $28.5 million. The pay-TV group also said that
operating expenses had fallen in the first half of
2004 vs. the first half of last year, dropping from
$720.5 million to $709 million. On the downside, the
Vivendi Universal subsidiary said distribution fees
had risen from $139 million to $195 million.

Canal Plus is ready to pull out all the stops to
obtain the maximum amount of football TV rights. Canal
Plus group chairman Bertrand Meheut told reporters on
October 7 that it had a lot of financial room to
manoeuvre in next month's auctions for the broadcast
rights to matches in France. The board of France's
Professional Football League will soon set the terms
for its call for bids for three seasons starting with
2005-06. The auction is expected to take place in
November, with the results made public by
mid-December. The most hotly-contested rights will be
live transmission of the top Ligue 1 matches and
pay-per-view broadcasting, which will be battled over
by Canal Plus and the TPS satellite network - owned 66
per cent by TF1 and 34 per cent by M6. Canal Plus
currently pays ?310 million per season for rights to
the first and third choice matches, pay-per-view and
the 'Jour de ****' programme, while TPS pays ?70
million for the second match and pay-per-view.

Leading commercial TV network TF1 has cited a
technicality to contest a decision by French broadcast
regulator the Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel to
issue digital terrestrial television broadcast
licenses to six channels owned by rival commercial
broadcasters Canal Plus and Lagardere. Acting on a
complaint filed by TF1, a French public prosecutor has
appealed to the Conseil d'Etat, the country's highest
administrative authority, to challenge the CSA's
decision, taken in June 2003, according to French
business dailies La Tribune and Les Echos. The
prosecutor has upheld TF1's claim that the channels --
Sport Plus, iTelevision, MCM, Canal J, Cine Cinemas
and Planete -- are jointly owned by Canal Plus' parent
company Vivendi Universal and the Lagardere Group.


Аs of 1 November, National Geographic Channel
will broadcast in German 24 hours a day, an
informative and entertaining program mix featuring
science and technology, investigation, wildlife,
history and adventure travel. Renowned researchers,
explorers, scientists, conservationists, photographers
and filmmakers will provide unique access to,
expeditions, cultures, wildlife, science, natural
phenomena and much more. National Geographic Channel
will initially be received in Germany via Kabel
Deutschland's "Kabel Digital Home" service. National
Geographic Channels International (NGCI) will also
offer the program to other cable network providers in
Germany, Austria and Switzerland, in order to ensure
the widest possible coverage. Worldwide, NGCI
programmes have so far been received by 170 million
households in 148 countries and in 27 languages.

ProSiebenSat1 Produktion and SES ASTRA on October 14
will, for the very first time, simultaneously
broadcast a high-resolution HDTV (High Definition
Television) signal in parallel with the traditional
digital standard-resolution via Astra 19.2 degrees
East. The ProSieben/BBC co-production "Pride - The Law
of the Savannah" (a wildlife program about the
adventures of a young lion) will be available to
viewers equipped with appropriate receivers both via
conventional standard-definition (SD) reception and,
exclusively via ASTRA, in the new, crystal-clear HDTV
standard. With the significantly enhanced picture
quality provided by HDTV, "Pride" can be viewed with
much greater, true-to-life detail. The visual
experience will be completed by Dolby Digital 5.1
sound, providing viewers for the first time ever with
true cinema quality in the living room. Technically
speaking, the broadcast will be simulcast in parallel
to the regular SD signal, the film being played out in
HDCAM SR (1080i/50 Hz) and delivered to an MPEG-2 HD
encoder with a data rate of some 1.4 gigabits/s. The
HD broadcast of Pride will be available via ASTRA
Transponder No. 103 (12460 Mhz, H-polarisation, SR
27.500, FEC 3/4.). An HD promo trailor of Pride will
be available as of October 12. The ASTRA HDTV
promotion channel is receivable via ASTRA transponder
Nbr. 102, vertical polarisation, 12,4441 MHz, 27.5
Msymbols/s, FEC 3/4 using MPEG-2 [email protected], 1080i, bitrate
19 Mb/s.

On December 6, TV viewers in the Rhine-Main region
around Frankfurt will receive only digital TV signals
from the terrestrial transmitters. The area is
becoming the fourth region in Germany to switch its
regular analog television signals to a purely digital
format. Testing of the system has already began and
the federal government has made it a priority to
upgrade all TV transmission to digital signals by
2010. Viewers will need a digital decoder box, which
retails for between ?60 and ?90. Meanwhile, in Berlin
which switched over between 2002 and 2003, the
Association for Entertainment and Communications
Electronics says the DVB-T has caught on in the
nation's capital with nearly 260,000 decoder boxes
purchased since the transformation. The association
estimates 1.1 million of the devices will be in homes
by year's end.


Hungarian commercial television network Viasat3 may
have to restructure its ownership and programming if
the National Television and Radio Board (ORTT) finds
that it reaches more than 50% of Hungary's population,
according to a report by Radio Netherlands. Viasat3
currently operates as a regional channel, being
available terrestrially in Budapest, and via cable
networks in the rest of the country. However, the
expansion of cable networks means that the station may
now be reaching more than 50% of the population, which
under Hungarian media law means it will be
re-classified as a national broadcaster. At least 26%
of a national broadcaster must be owned by Hungarian
individuals or legal entities. Currently, 95% of
Viasat3 is owned by Sweden's MTG Broadcasting, part of
the Modern Times Group. The media law also states that
no company can hold a controlling share, publisher's
or founder's rights in a nationwide daily newspaper
and a nationwide broadcaster at the same time. The
Hungarian edition of the free daily Metro is published
by MTG Metro Gratis, also owned by the Modern Times
Group. If declared a national station, Viasat3 will
also be required to air at least 20 minutes of news
programming at peak time. The ORTT will announce its
findings by December 1.


Conax, a leading supplier of conditional access
technology for digital TV, signed up its first
customer of the Conax CAS7 system, launched at IBC
2004. Icelandic Broadcasting Corporation will use the
Conax CAS7 system for its Digital Terrestrial
operation (DTT), starting this November. Conax CAS7
includes new exciting features such as use of mobile
phone to order digital TV content and enhanced copy
protection by extending the broadcast security level
to the Personal Video Recorder (PVR). Icelandic
Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) is the TV and Radio
division of Northern Lights Communication, the largest
privately operated media company and the most dynamic
company in the field of entertainment in Iceland. IBC
has ordered a complete Conax CAS7 system for
conversion of their analogue subscribers to digital,
enabling vast expansion of IBC's offering to their
subscribers. Conax CAS7 also gives Icelandic
Broadcasting Corporation the possibility to make
ordering and payment of content very convenient.


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has announced
that Italy will float at least 20 per cent of state
broadcaster RAI by next March, The government paved
the way for the RAI sell-off in a media law approved
by parliament in April. Under the terms of the law,
no-one will be able to take more than a one per cent
stake in the company, which is Italy's largest media
group. RAI said in a statement it closed the first six
months of the year with a net profit of ?82 million,
up 80 per cent compared with the first half of 2003.
RAI runs three terrestrial TV channels which compete
head-to-head with three channels owned by Mediaset,
controlled by Berlusconi and his family. Analysts have
said the partial privatization of RAI would ease
concerns over a potential conflict between
Berlusconi's political power and family business

Three of RaiSat's channels are set to launch BBC
branded blocks some time next year featuring drama,
cooking and children's shows. RaiSat Premium will
showcase popular recent drama productions from the BBC
in a daily two-hour slot from Monday to Thursday.
RaiSat Gambero Rosso will broadcast a selection of
cookery programs and the children's channel RaiSat
Ragazzi will air a BBC branded slot with children's
output. BBC branded blocks currently air on networks
throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, as BBC Food, BBC
Life (lifestyle), BBC Wild (natural history), BBC
Exclusive (documentary), BBC Select (drama), BBC
Playtime (children) and BBC Science.

Italian Communication Authority President Enzo Cheli
said on October 4 that an antitrust investigation had
been opened into the dominant positions held by state
broadcaster RAI and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's
Mediaset in the national advertising market. In July,
Cheli's office said that in light of the apparent
duopoly of the Italian television and radio
marketplace and the allocation of advertising
resources, they would be providing an advisory to the
Italian parliament. If the investigation reveals that
RAI and Mediaset have breached the antitrust limit of
having a maximum 30% share of the advertising market,
the Communication Authority could fine both companies
2%-5% of their revenue. The investigation, which
opened last month, is expected to last four months.


Russia's leading commercial television network, NTV,
announced 5 it will switch to round-the-clock
broadcasting on October 12 as part of a fall makeover
in the ratings hunt behind market leading pubcaster
First Channel. The station plans to run a mixture of
quality western dramas -- such as "Emergency Room" --
Hollywood movies, sports and other entertainment shows
aimed at an adult, night-time audience, said Maria
Bezborodova, assistant to NTV head Vladimir

Warner Bros. International Television Distribution
(WBITD) has signed an exclusive multi-year free TV
deal with TV Channel Russia, formerly RTR, that
includes films, series, TV movies and animation,
including the new hit sitcom Joey and the
Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
Also included in the deal are the new dramas Veronica
Mars and Eyes, plus the feature films Troy, The Last
Samurai and Ocean's 12, among others.


The Modern Times Group's newest channel, Viasat
History, will be available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark
and Finland, beginning in November, to subscribers of
Viasat DTH's Gold and Silver packages. The latest
rollout follows the launch in May into eight Central
and Eastern European markets via third party cable
networks. The channel, which features factual fare as
well as period dramas and mini-series based on
historical events, currently has more than 800,000
subscribers. Alongside a broad range of cultural,
political, social, scientific, sporting and
entertainment history programmes and documentaries,
Viasat History programming includes period dramas and
miniseries based on historical events.

Regards Satdude.