Satellite news 02.02.06


Sky HDTV channels starting to appear on EPG

Sky is preparing the build-up to the launch of its new HD service this spring by introducing HD channels to its EPG from this week. Throughout February, the Sky HD channels will be displayed on the Sky EPG, including Sky Movies 9 HD, Sky Movies 10 HD, Sky Sports HD, Sky Box Office HD 1 and National Geographic HD. From February 14 they will be joined by Sky One HD, Sky Box Office HD 2, Artsworld HD and Discovery HD. The launch date for all HD channels remains "in the first half of 2006," according to BSkyB, although the date is widely expected to be early April. In order to see Sky HD services consumers will need to have a Sky HD box, a Sky HD subscription and a compatible HD Ready TV.

Brand new logo and onscreen look for CNN

CNN International is to undergo its biggest redesign in five years with a new logo, graphics, tunes and less 'clutter'. The re-branding moves away from traditional heavy news graphics that tend to clutter the screen. Instead, the block of the news font is easier to read and covers less of the screen, while a rotating news bar replaces the scrolling ticker to allow the viewer to concentrate on the main news stories. The CNN globe branding has been updated with a silver and glass globe image within a square window. The revamp also includes improved navigation through the channel with boxes informing viewers about upcoming shows, and new music and on-air promotions. The new-look CNN International channel starts on February 10th.

Sky subscriber numbers soar to 8.1 million

Sky signed up a better-than-expected 215,000 new customers to its digital TV service during the last quarter of 2005 to hit a total of 8.1m subscribers, according to new figures announced on Wednesday February 1st. Analysts had predicted an average 177,000 would join the pay-TV service. James Murdoch, chief executive of Sky, said the company is positioned to sustain the growth: "The business is moving forward on all fronts. In the last quarter, more customers joined Sky than at any time in the last three years, and we've seen record growth in Sky+ and multi-room households. Now nearly one in three families chooses Sky," he said. Profit before tax rose to Ł390m, representing a 14% increase from 2004. Also, Sky+ added over 250,000 subscribers in the three months ending December 31 to reach 1.3m subscribers. Sky is now aiming to reach 10m subscribers by 2010, with 25% penetration of Sky+ and 30% multi-room penetration.

Teletext Holidays service revamps for advertisers

Teletext Holidays has revamped its digital text service on Sky Dgital to provide advertisers with opportunities to use more visual displays. Stephen Dunk, deputy managing director of Teletext Holidays, said the new service provides advertisers with innovative ways for them to present their branding and to create their own brochures. Banner advertising on the holiday index pages directs consumers to a company's exclusive display pages. Some 2.7m people visit Teletext's digital services every week, of which 1.5m view Teletext Holidays pages.

New Irish channel 'won't launch on Sky Digital'

Channel 6, Ireland’s soon-to-launch TV channel, says it will not be available on Sky Digital. The channel, which intends to debut in March, says it was not able to agree an adequate channel number with Sky.

Freeview boxes may have exceeded 10 million

The number of Freeview set-top boxes and TVs in the UK may have passed the 10 million mark after a bumper Christmas when around a million units were shifted, according to comments made by Stephen Carter, the chief executive of Ofcom. Ofcom's last official figures for digital TV take-up, published last month, showed that at the end of September there were 8,914,800 Freeview receivers in the marketplace, many of them for second and third TV sets.

TalkSport goes free-to-air on Sky Digital

Sports radio station TalkSport has become a free-to-air service on Sky Digital so listeners no longer require a Sky subscription or viewing card to tune in. It is available on channel 858 and was previously only available to those with a basic Sky subscription.

Launch your own Sky TV channel for free!

Arqiva’s Satellite Media Solutions division and the European TV Guild are to provide a free month-long test platform to those considering launching their own new digital TV channels. 'New Start TV' is a digital channel designed to power the introduction of more broadcast services with the free trial to help broadcasters achieve final funding for launch. New Start TV provides free playout, compression, satellite uplink and support for content management. It meets the needs of broadcasters seeking a platform to demonstrate their content to potential investors, advertisers, sponsors and various carriers. In addition, channel owners can monitor their content, trial new ideas and concepts. Arqiva is to broadcast up to four hours per day of each trial channel’s content.

Artsworld commissions National Trust HD series

Artsworld, the digital TV arts channel, has commissioned a 10-part documentary series on National Trust properties that will be broadcast on its soon-to-launch high-definition channel Artsworld HD. National Trust: National Treasures will be the first series commissioned in the new HDTV format and will be part of Sky's forthcoming HD package. The series follows a Ł1m sponsorship agreement that Sky signed with the National Trust covering the next two years.

German media giant pulls out of Sat 1 bid talks

German media giant Axel Springer has formally abandoned its 3.5bn bid for ProSieben Sat.1 after regulators vetoed the deal. It has decided not to make an appeal against the Federal Cartel Office's decision to German ministers. "In light of the numerous economic and legal uncertainties, a possible appeal or a possible application for a ministerial permit would have resulted in unacceptable risks," the company said.

This week's digital TV news in brief...

On Sky channel 336 Matinee Movies has been renamed 'Movies4Men'... On Sky channel 339 Bad Movies has been renamed ACTIONMAX... Sky Cinema 1 & 2 have moved, as expected to channel 313 and 314 in the EPG... Ofcom has launched an investigation into Channel 4's Death Wish Live! programme after viewers branded the show 'sick and irresponsible' when a live hanging stunt nearly went wrong... Channel Five's new series of its popular CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was watched by 4.1 million viewers, the channel's highest audience since July last year... Hopes of resurrecting live test cricket for terrestrial TV have faded after a select committee probing the issue told the government they had found no evidence of the free-to-air broadcasters wanting to screen it... The BBC's news department has made two new appointments, creating a post of creative director for TV current affairs and hiring a new editor of world news... On Sky channel 860, the radio channel The Storm has been renamed Chill...

New Indian news channel could come to Europe

India's Times Group and international news agency Reuters launched a 24-hour English language news and current affairs TV channel in India on Tuesday (January 31st) as the two companies aim to tap into the rapidly growing market. The channel, called 'Times Now,' uses the resources of the Times of India and The Economic Times newspapers and Reuters. If successful, the channel may become available in other parts of the world, including Europe, although no formal schedule for this has been announced.

Regards Satdude.