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Thread: News 18.06.2007

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    Default News 18.06.2007

    IRD ETO, the global expert in content security for digital TV, IPTV and mobile networks, announced today at CommunicAsia that it has signed an agreement with India’s Sun Direct TV to protect Sun TV’s new direct-to-home (DTH) satellite television service.

    Sun TV already runs direct-to-operator and cable TV systems in southern India utilizing Irdeto’s state-of-the-art security technology. It has now opted to employ Irdeto’s PIsys conditional access solution to secure the launch of a DTH pay television platform in the second quarter of 2007.

    Sun Direct TV is set to introduce the new DTH pay TV network following the launch of a next-generation Insat communications satellite by the Indian Space Research Organization in September 2007. Sun Direct TV will use Irdeto’s world-leading conditional access system to manage content and revenues in the satellite broadcasting venture, and has placed an initial order for 500,000 IRD ETO smart cards as part of that system.

    “Sun’s expanding partnership with IRD ETO has proven to be extremely successful for both sides,” stated Kalanithi Maran, CEO for Sun Direct TV. “Sun is a pioneer and leading force in the introduction of digital pay TV models across southern India, and Irdeto’s content security has helped the company become a market leader.” “Irdeto’s security solutions for Sun’s cable operations have proven to be excellent, so it was natural for us to select ****** to protect Sun Direct’s new satellite TV platform,” he added.

    “As leading Indian broadcasters like Sun TV expand their operations across digital cable, satellite and other platforms, they will increasingly depend on content protection systems that can be deployed across a spe*ctrum of convergent broadcasting technologies, and IRD ETO is the proven global leader in this field,” said Graham Kill, CEO for IRD ETO.

    “The government’s strengthening support for digital TV, India’s burgeoning middle class, and its vibrant film industry is all adding momentum to the creation of new broadcasting and viewership models that require proven security technology,” said Thierry Raymaekers, Area Sales Director South-Asia for IRD ETO. “We provide secure systems worldwide to protect valuable television content and revenues. IRD ETO is also building an expert service network across India to facilitate the country’s passage into the digital TV era.”
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Disney Channel has inked a multi-year contract with Turkish pay-TV platform Digiturk to supply Disney Channel Turkey exclusively to the country's leading pay-TV platform. The new channel includes localised programming and promos dubbed in Turkish, and content that includes popular live action series, Disney Channel movies, contemporary animated series, entertaining and learning-focused series for preschoolers, and Disney Feature films such as Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid. Ertan Özerdem, General Manager of Digiturk commented on the latest addition to the platform: “We pride ourselves on bringing high-quality channels to our subscribers and are delighted to enrich our offering with the Disney Channel, which will appeal to both families and kids alike.”

    Launched in 2000 from Eutelsat's 7 degrees East position, Digiturk benefits from the high-power regional footprint on Eutelsat's W3A satellite to reach over 1.2 million subscribing satellite homes across Turkey. Digiturk offers over 150 TV, radio and interactive channels.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Six firms including Loral Space & Communications, Inc. and U.S. pay TV provider EchoStar Communications Corporation in alliance with Liberty Media Corporation are reported to be interested in acquiring Intelsat, Ltd., the world’s largest commercial-satellite operator, which its owners put up for sale last April. Intelsat’s new owners could be known this week, according to sources.

    These sources said other bidders for Intelsat also include The Carlyle Group, Providence Equity Partners and Australia's Macquarie Bank, Ltd. The bids for Intelsat ranged from $4.5 billion to some $6 billion.

    Conspicuously absent among the bidders was The Blackstone Group LP, which reportedly offered $6 billion to buy Intelsat last April triggering the current bidding war. Blackstone submitted no formal bid, however, said the sources. Blackstone bought satellite operator New Skies Satellites N.V. in 2004 for $956 million in cash. Intelsat has declined to comment on the bids, as have the bidders.

    Intelsat is currently owned by private equity firms Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, Apax Partners Worldwide LLP, Permira Advisers LLP and Apollo Management LP. Sources said the equity partners have set an asking price of $6 billion for Intelsat, which is over 10 times the $515 million in cash they paid for Intelsat in 2004.

    Each also bought a 25 percent stake in Intelsat, valuing the equity at some $3.1 billion. They also agreed to refinance Intelsat's $2 billion debt. Currently, Intelsat has a long-term debt load of $11 billion, which the new owner will absorb. Intelsat has reportedly hired Credit Suisse to seek other potential buyers.

    A few months after the change in ownership, Intelsat bought rival PanAmSat Holding Corporation for $3.2 billion, creating the world's largest commercial satellite operator with 51 satellites. SES Global SA, the second largest satellite operator, has 43 satellites. Commercial satellite operators are favorite targets for private equity firms since they generate long-term cash flows from broadcasters and governments.

    Loral is working with partners to finance its bid. EchoStar and Liberty Media, which will take ownership of leading U.S satellite TV operator DirecTV Group, Inc. this year, have allied together in their bid for Intelsat. The alliance between Echostar and DirecTV to acquire Intelsat has again spawned merger rumors involving both companies.

    Analysts said the alliance will diversify EchoStar’s and DirecTV’s revenue sources in the face of mounting competition from cable firms that now offer triple play services (video, telephone and high speed Internet) in one package. EchoStar and DirecTV also want Intelsat to acquire more bandwidth for their High Definition Television (HDTV) offerings that are becoming increasingly popular.

    Intelsat reported revenues of $1.7 billion in 2006, a rise $491.2 million or 42 percent year-on-year. Intelsat’s PanAmSat business contributed some $456.7 to the revenue increase, including $37.0 million for the operations of the government business of G2 Satellite Solutions Corporation.

    Intelsat, however, took a net loss of $368.7 million in 2006. The net loss reflected the impact of an asset impairment charge of $49.0 million to write down the net book value of one of the company's satellites that experienced an anomaly in September 2006. It also reflected the impact of restructuring costs of $26.5 million related to the PanAmSat acquisition.

    Intelsat CEO David McGlade described 2006 as highly productive with regard to Intelsat's operating performance and strategic objectives. He said an improved product mix and sustained focus on operating efficiencies impacted positively on the adjusted Ebitda for Intelsat, Ltd., which reached $1.08 billion (65 percent of revenue) in 2006, from $652.8 million (56 percent of revenue) in 2005. The company began 2007 with a backlog of $8.1 billion, representing expected future revenue under contracts with customers.

    "In 2007, we intend to generate incremental, sustainable growth in our media, network, and government services businesses, which enjoy leading market positions worldwide and benefit from the geographic and service diversity available on the Intelsat global system,” Glade said. “Our planned service offerings will provide solutions for wireless applications, maritime requirements and IP-based services demanded by the 'new telecom' community that are driving growth in our industry. Lastly, we are accessing other avenues for growth, including the marketing of our technical and industry expertise to regional operators and for hosting proprietary payloads on upcoming satellite launches. We believe that Intelsat's 'one company' approach to operations positions us to lead the industry with regard to creating value.”
    Salut Prieteni!


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    SES, the world’s pre-eminent satellite operator (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG) today unveiled new groundbreaking satellite launch vehicle contracts covering the majority of the satellite launch requirements for the SES group from the period 2009-2013. These “multi-launch agreements” ensure that each SES satellite will have a primary as well as a back-up launch vehicle, each with two launch slots, providing utmost planning security and flexibility for the company’s ambitious launch schedule.

    To that effect, SES Satellite Leasing Ltd. has signed separate agreements with launch industry leaders Arianespace and ILS for 5 satellite launches each. Arianespace will provide Ariane 5 or Soyuz boosters to be launched out of the European Space Port in Kourou (French Guyana). ILS will provide Proton Breeze M boosters launching from the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The multi-launch agreements include options for additional launches, and represent the largest single launch services contract to date both for Arianespace and ILS. Terms of the contracts remain confidential.

    States Romain Bausch, President and CEO of SES: “These groundbreaking contracts with two renowned industry leaders ensure secured on-schedule access to space for SES satellites due to the ‘full dual slot – mutual back-up policy’ that both Arianespace and ILS have agreed for their respective launch vehicles. We are confident that with these innovative agreements in place, the continuous development and replacement of our global satellite fleet is ensured at attractive terms and conditions for the foreseeable future, providing SES with an additional competitive edge.”

    Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall added: “This is a major contract that confirms our strategic partnership with SES building upon a foundation of 26 launches performed for the SES group, and provides clear proof that Arianespace offers custom-tailored services and innovative solutions that meet our customers’ requirements. I would like to thank SES for their renewed confidence in us, reflected in this latest contract. Their selection confirms that Arianespace, with our Ariane 5 and Soyuz launchers, sets the global standard in space transportation and guaranteed access to space.”

    “The real value in this unique multi-buy contract is the flexibility it offers SES, in terms of matching payloads and launch periods,” said Frank McKenna, ILS President. “We’re proud to continue our long-standing partnership with SES,” McKenna said. “Our relationship goes back to the very beginning of ILS. SES was the customer for the first commercial launch on Proton back in 1996, and ILS has launched at least one satellite a year for SES operating companies ever since. In 2007, we have scheduled launches for SES AMERICOM and SES SIRIUS.”
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Interkabel launches HD-PVR; over 100 channels


    In-Di, the digital platform of the Belgian Interkabel consortium, thas launched an HD-PVR, an extended EPG, and now offer over 100 digital channels. As from today the HD-PVR is available in retail and has a 250 GB hard disk, which can record up to 50 hours in HD quality.

    In-Di has also launched an extended EPG, which offers listings up to eight days in advance. The cabler also introduced the ‘easyview’ service, which allows viewers to pause live television. After an intitial trial period, customers will be charged 2.95 euro monthly for the service, but it will remain free of charge for subscribers to premium tiers.

    The line-up of digital channels has over 100 channels and now includes Playboy TV, BBC 3, BB 4, VH1, MTV Brand New , TMF Party, NASN, BeTV+1 and Nick Junior. The channels are available in 11 different ‘packs’, including thematic offers consisting of sports, music, adult, movies and HD.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of Mediaroo, the latest update to its IPTV software platform, featuring several new multimedia capabilities, including in-home personal music and photo sharing, dynamic MultiView (multiple picture-in-picture) capabilities, Multimedia Application Environment for development of interactive services and advanced applications, and digital terrestrial television (DTT) support.

    Microsoft also introduced the Microsoft Mediaroom Application Development toolkit, which provides service providers and third-party developers with tools to create TV-based applications that run on the platform. With this latest release, Microsoft is renaming its IPTV platform Microsoft Mediaroom.

    The Microsoft Mediaroom platform introduces the following:
    · Personal media sharing. This enables consumers to listen to digital music and view digital photographs stored on PCs elsewhere in the home on the television;
    · Multimedia Application Environment. The environment offers richer support for Web services and applications, enabling service providers to deploy advanced features such as dynamic video-on-demand portals, casual games and interactive TV services;
    · Enhanced MultiView capabilities. These allow consumers to see multiple channels, programs and camera angles on one screen.

    The launch of Microsoft Mediaroom also marks the general availability of DTT capabilities on the platform, allowing service providers in regions with DTT programming to offer fully integrated, seamless IPTV services.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    French cable operator Noos Numéricâble has secured the rights to the second league of French football (Ligue 2). Last Friday the French football association (Conseil d’Administration de la LFP), which convened in the city of Metz, announced it has awarded the rights to Ypso France, who owns the cable operators Numericable, Noos, EstVidéo and Coditel.

    The operator secured the rights for three seasons for 15 million euros. It is the first time Franch cable operators have acquired exclusive rights; so far the football rights have been divided between Canal+ and TPS, but since the merger there
    has been some concern there would be no competition between platforms. The Ligue 1 rights will become available this November.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    The new German sports channel Super Sports Network (SSN) is set for launch, the company has announced. SSN has started test transmissions as part of the Kabelkiosk bouquet on Eutelsat and will broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week with various sports, both live and recorded. SSN will also be available as a web TV stream.

    SSN is owned by DS International Sport Management Inc, and is headed by CEO Dieter Schweiger. The channel will broadcast from studios in Cologne-Ossendorf using facilities provided by the Magic Media Company (MMC).

    Programming of the new channel will focus on specialist sports such as motorsport (Moto X), tennis, badminton, beach volleyball, kajaking, mountain climbing, snowboarding, surfing and BMX. Also, golf, sailing, horse riding, swimming, gymnastics, Bbaseball, rugby and Cricket will be broadcast alongside fitness and wellness programming. There willbe 18 hours of fresh programmes a day, and eight hours of repeats.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    GE International Holdings Inc., a holding company for the satellite businesses of General Electric Company, has begun business in Asia under the name of Sat-GE. The new company offers satellite capacity across the Pacific region using the GE-23 satellite (the former AMC-23).

    GE-23 encompasses six individual beams, five Ku-band and one C-band, that give almost total coverage of both land mass and ocean from Perth in Australia to Los Angeles in the United States and from Alaska to South New Zealand. GE-23 offers Ku-band cross connectivity capability between multiple beams and in C-band, a single trans-Pacific beam allows simultaneous uplink and downlink from anywhere within the beam.

    Manufactured by Alcatel Space, a series 4100 spacecraft, with a minimum useful life of 15 years, GE-23 was launched on the 29th of December 2005 and operates from an orbital slot at 172 degrees east. It is ideally positioned to deliver internet applications, data and telecommunications services via VSAT and broadcast programming for cable and satellite communities. GE-23 is the renamed AMC-23 satellite, which was recently transferred from SES to GE following the closing of a broader transaction between GE and SES.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Telefónica first to launch IPTV services in capital - Chile


    The Chilean unit of Spanish giant Telefónica has launched IPTV services in capital Santiago, its first in Latin America, Telefónica Chile (NYSE: CTC) general manager José Molés told press.

    Telefónica Chile has invested US$20mn into network upgrades and equipment purchases to facilitate the IPTV rollout. However, the service is still in its initial phase and limited to the wealthier neighborhoods in the northeastern corner of Santiago.

    Molés said that by next year it could be expanded to other parts of the city. The neighborhoods chosen for the rollout are the only areas where the network has sufficient bandwidth to handle 6Mbt channels needed to deliver the service.

    Moreover, Molés sees IPTV as the future for pay TV services and that it is just beginning to take hold in the market.

    "This is the start of a new story... in two to three years this could explode," Molés said at the launch. In 10 years, Molés estimates that all of Telefónica's pay TV customers could be using IPTV.

    By the end of the year, Telefónica expects to have some 3,000-5,000 IPTV subscribers. However, in the near term Molés said that the service is only a complement to its existing digital TV and satellite services.

    The IPTV service offers video on demand, with some 240 hours of content available. Every month around 20% of that content will be updated.

    TRYING TO MATCH VTR

    By offering IPTV, Telefónica expects to have a more competitive package to increase its share of the pay TV market in Chile, as well as a stronger triple play portfolio.

    At the end of May Telefónica's rival triple play operator VTR had a 71% share of the pay TV market, down from 77% at end-2006, according to Telefónica.

    The incumbent has had TV services for one year and at the end of May had a 14% market share with 156,547 clients, a 66% increase compared to the end of 2006. Telefónica is seeing strongest growth in revenues from the pay TV and broadband segments.

    Despite the business potential for pay TV, the dynamic mobile telephony industry, competing triple play offerings and the introduction of WiMax is eating into the company's fixed line and internet revenues, according to a research note from Deutsche Bank.

    IPTV services will make Telefónica more competitive, but the investment required to upgrade networks to make them IPTV compatible is a challenge. "While the launch of pay TV service should strengthen its [Telefónica's] competitive position, it should also pull down its margins in the medium term," the note said.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    JoostTV everywhere, embedded in hardware


    This week, Joost started publicly talking about getting equipment manufacturers to embed its video-playing software in TV sets and other consumer hardware.

    That would help it solve two problems. First, the glitches it's currently running into when it tries to deliver high-quality video over internet connections that are too slow for the function. The second, which cannot be fixed by tweaking software, is that people want to watch the majority of their entertainment videos on that newly purchased 42-inch flat-panel screen that's hanging on the wall in the living room.

    New CEO Mike Volpi said Joost is a piece of software that can reside on a variety of platforms, including a television with an internet connection, a set-top box, a mobile phone, or in some alternative device that might come out in the future.

    Perhaps it's coincidental that at a time Joost appears to be experiencing unexpected problems it also starts talking about embedding its player software in consumer hardware.

    After all, isn't that what Akimbo is already doing with its technology that's in AT&T's Homezone set-top boxes? Isn't that what Apple and Netgear have taken a first step toward with their Apple TV and Digital Entertainer HD boxes? The hard disk in the Apple TV may not be embedded in the TV set, but it's about as close as it can be. The fact is that the broadband speeds that most Americans and Europeans have today are not fast enough to deliver multiple streams of highdefinition video.

    Joost, whose initial forays into distributing TV shows on the web have been complicated by those aforementioned technical glitches, is opening a new front in its campaign to elbow in on cable and satellite TV with its attempt to get its software embedded in the hardware that's in the living room.

    David Clark, executive vice president of global advertising for Joost, told TV Week that a year from now there will be a lot more convergence, enough that "you will see Joost in the living room." He said that the vast majority of consumers will eventually use Joost as their primary entertainment platform. As long as you have an internetconnected device you would have access to the Joost community, he said.

    Joost founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have to be taken seriously. They successfully developed their own technology to use the net to speed the copying of music tracks (Kazaa) and to carry voice-quality conversations (Skype). Both developments eroded long established and well-heeled industries: music and telecom.

    Akimbo is already trying to convince set-top box purchasers (the pay-TV outfits) to order equipment with Akimbo technology built-in. Why shouldn't Apple take the same approach? Or Netgear? Or Akimbo? If Joost were to win the embedding battle for internet-delivered video, then Zennstrom and Friis will have seriously unsettled another major industry.

    Joost is still missing content from major producers, specifically NBC Universal, News Corp (Fox), and Disney. It does have somewhat limited deals for content with Viacom, CBS and Time Warner.

    NBC Universal and News Corp are working on their own online video service that will distribute their own and other producers' content through third-party entertainment portals such as A O L, MSN, Y a h o o, MySpace and Comcast.net. Disney and its ABC network have been keeping most of their goodies for their own Web sites and giving some to Apple, whose Steve Jobs is Disney's largest shareholder.

    Volpi told the New York Times that the company hopes to attract NBC, Fox and Disney "because we are an attractive place given the numbers of users we have". Content owners, he said, don't care where content is distributed so long as it reaches a larger number of users who can be monetised. Volpi did not mention two other factors that media companies require - piracy protection including preventing the general public from posting their copyright protected content on the net and full and fair compensation for their content.

    Joost in May closed a $45m round of funding from Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital, CBS, Viacom and a foundation run by Li Kashing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, the owner of the various 3 mobile phone networks.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    ILS to Launch 5th-Generation Satellite for Arabsat


    International Launch Services (ILS) announced today it has been selected to launch a fifth-generation satellite for Arabsat.

    ILS will launch the satellite, either Arabsat-5A or BADR-5, in the 2009-2010 timeframe on a Proton Breeze M vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. ILS partner Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center builds the Proton in Russia.

    A consortium of EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia Space is building the satellites and is responsible for delivering the satellites in orbit. EADS Astrium will supply the Eurostar E3000 platforms and integrate the satellites. Thales Alenia Space will design and build the communications payloads.

    "With the successful launch of Arabsat's BADR-4 satellite on a Proton last November, ILS is again honored to be selected to provide Arabsat launch capability to fuel continued growth in this exciting region," said ILS President Frank McKenna.

    ILS has carried out 40 commercial launches on Proton since the joint venture with Khrunichev was formed in 1993. The Proton vehicle is Russia's premier heavy-lift launcher, and has carried out many historic missions in its 42 years of service.

    Arabsat-5A will have a launch mass of 4,800 kg. The multi-payload satellite will replace Arabsat-2B, which is reaching the end of its service life. Arabsat-5A will provide additional capacity for a comprehensive range of satellite communications services over sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, and beyond.

    BADR-5 will have a launch mass of 5,400 kg. It will primarily provide full in-orbit backup capacity for BADR-4 and BADR-6 television services. Complementary missions include supporting the expected boom of HDTV and, thanks to its Ka-band capacity, the development of sophisticated interactive services.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    SuperSport wins TV soccer battle


    The Premier Soccer League (PSL) have concluded a deal worth well in excess of a billion Rand over five years with SuperSport International giving the pay channel exclusive TV rights on all their fixtures.

    The announcement was made by PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza at the League's Parktown offices on Thursday and is the culmination of a simmering war with SABC who have held the TV rights since the League's inception nine seasons ago.

    Effectively the move would deprive the bulk of South Africa's millions of passionate soccer fans with the means to watch Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and the other PSL teams on TV - although Khoza stressed the deal with SuperSport was conditional on them offering the rights of whichever games they saw fit to rival TV broadcasters.

    PSL Chief Operations Officer Professor Ronnie Schloss said that after the ongoing deadlock with SABC, the national broadcaster had not as much as tendered a bid for the League's TV rights.

    "They ignored the offer to submit a bid," added Schloss, "and we considered offers only from SuperSport, e.tv and Telkom all of whom either have or are planning to launch satellite channels.

    Schloss confirmed the contract with SuperSport was worth "well in excess of a billion Rand - and while he said that the exact amount would not be officially released, insiders have confirmed that it will be worth in excess of R300-million annually to the PSL.

    "We don't know how the SABC will react to the League accepting SuperSport's offer," added the PSL's Chief Operations Officer, "but they were invited to tender a bid and for whatever reasons decided against it."

    Schloss stressed, however, that the contract with SuperSport was only for TV rights and did not include any future negotiations that will take place with companies over radio rights.

    And paraphrasing a famous Winston Churchill war-time retort, one leading soccer official said the TV announcement was not likely to be the end of the confrontation between the PSL and SABC.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Unitymedia denies its Arena unit plans to bid for Premiere


    Unitymedia's unit Arena is not mulling a takeover of German pay-TV firm Premiere AG, a spokeswoman for the company said, denying earlier speculation.

    "That rumour was just grabbed out of thin air," the spokeswoman for Unitymedia said. "We never had the intention to buy Premiere and we still do not have the intention now." Unitymedia already holds a 16.7 pct stake in Premiere which was placed under the management of Pictet & Cie, an independent financial institution, to secure the approval of the German Federal Cartel Office.

    Unitymedia acquired its Premiere stake in February in the course of a distribution agreement allowing Premiere to distribute and market the Bundesliga channel Arena throughout Germany via satellite.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    ITN news channel still a possibility?


    ITN chief executive Mark Wood said the news operation wouldn't rule out launching a 24-hour TV news channel.

    ITN previously produced the content for the ITV News Channel, formerly the ITN News Channel, which closed in December 2005.

    Recently there has been speculation that cable group Virgin Media is considering launching its own news channel to rival Sky News and BBC News 24, with some reports suggesting it may look to partner with ITN.
    Speaking to DS, Wood said that compared to when ITV News launched, the market was "a very different place," and pointed to the success of its 24-hour mobile channel ITN On to indicate how such a service could operate commercially.

    "Things are different now; things that would have cost so much more in the past are much easier to do now. So yes, we would consider it," Wood added.

    As well as ITN On, ITN currently provides TV news for ITV and Channel 4, and radio news for the Independent Radio News network and Channel 4 Radio. It also produces video news content for a number of partners including The Telegraph and Google.

    The independent news producer has launched a new version of online video archive ITN Source this month, giving users the opportunity to search, view, download and buy video clips from 800,000 hours of footage from collections including Pathe and Reuters.
    Salut Prieteni!


 

 

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