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Thread: News 20.06.2007

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    Default News 20.06.2007

    Digital TV in over 80% of UK homes as Freeview overtakes Sky subscribers


    More than 80% of UK homes now have digital television on the main set according to research published today by Ofcom.

    Ofcom’s Digital Television Progress Report for the first quarter of 2007 (January-March) shows that household take-up of digital television now stands at 80.5% (20.4m homes), up from 77.2% the previous quarter. The report also shows that Freeview is now on the main set in 8.4 million homes (up from 7.7m in the previous quarter), and has now overtaken the number of Sky UK subscribers (8.0m in the first quarter of 2007).

    During the quarter a further 869,000 UK homes acquired digital television for the first time, following over a million additions the previous quarter.

    Key trends for the first quarter of 2007 include:

    DIGITAL TERRESTRIAL TELEVISION – Freeview services

    * In total, 1.96 million Freeview devices (set-top-boxes plus integrated digital televisions) were sold during the quarter, up from 1.2 million in the first quarter of 2006 (61% rise year-on-year). This was the highest first quarter for Freeview sales ever.

    * Digital terrestrial television accounted for 81% (670,000) of the growth in the digital television market during the quarter.

    * Some 11.7 million homes (46%) are now viewing television on at least one Freeview device, 1.1 million more than at the end of the previous quarter.

    DIGITAL SATELLITE TELEVISION – Sky subscribers and free-to-view satellite services

    * Sky grew its customer base by 32,020 during the quarter, taking its total number of UK subscribers to just over 8 million.

    * Free-to-view satellite added 70,000 homes during the quarter, taking the total number of homes on this platform to 885,000.

    * Some 2.17 million Sky customers (27% of all customers) now subscribe to Sky’s personal video recorder service, up from 1.96 million in Q4 2006.

    CABLE TELEVISION – Virgin Media services plus others

    * With 3.4 million subscribers at the end of the quarter, cable rose to its highest level of take-up in almost five years (13.4% of UK homes).

    * Cable gained an additional 36,100 new homes during the quarter, outperforming growth in subscription satellite (32,020 new homes) for the first time since the third quarter of 2001.

    * Virgin Media added 71,000 subscribers to its personal video recorder service during the quarter, up 90% from 79,000 in Q4 2006 to 150,000.

    TELEVISION OVER BROADBAND (Tiscali TV)

    * An additional 19,000 homes took a broadband television service during the quarter, an increase of 44.2% on the previous quarter. The total number of homes now receiving television over broadband stands at 62,000.

    Chief Executive Ed Richards said: "More than four in five UK households are now enjoying the benefits of digital television. It’s great news that we are continuing to see the market grow strongly as we approach the start of digital switchover."
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Pace supports HDMI and HDCP on all HD STBs


    Set-top box maker Pace Micro Technology is teaming up with high-definition interoperability specialist Simplay Labs to maximise HDMI performance and HDCP on all current and future Pace HD set-top boxes.

    As a result of an agreement between Pace and Simplay, all of Pace's HD products will support the HDMI standard, as well as the HDCP specification, to ensure interoperability with HDTVs and other HD consumer electronics devices and protection of digital content.

    "As more and more HDMI products are coming to market, manufacturers are now including multiple HDMI ports on HDTVs. Consumers are demanding the simplicity of connecting several source devices to an HDTV, such as a game console, set-top box and a Blu-ray Disk or HD DVD player," said Joseph Lias, president of Simplay Labs.

    Pace director of engineering Mark Merigot said: "This new partnership is a key part of our global strategy to improve our development test capability in order to be sure we deliver the highest quality experience to the end user.

    "The implementation of these important specifications into our set-top boxes will ensure that our boxes work together with consumer electronics devices to provide a consistent 'plug and play' user experience and maximize consumers' access to premium HD content."
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Digiturk platform boosts capacity on Eutelsat’s W3A satellite


    Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) and Digiturk, have signed a new contract for capacity on the W3A satellite to support continued expansion of Turkey’s leading pay-TV platform. The new contract, concluded for four years, is the third signed between Eutelsat and Digiturk since November 2006. It takes to 11 the total number of transponders leased for broadcasting services by Digiturk on Eutelsat's satellites.

    Launched in 2000 from Eutelsat's 7 degrees East position, Digiturk’s platform benefits from the high-power regional footprint on Eutelsat's W3A satellite in order to reach 1.6 million subscribing satellite homes across Turkey. In addition to its reach of Turkey, Digiturk offers pay-TV services across Europe and also uses capacity on ATLANTIC BIRD™ 1 for contribution links back to its studios in Istanbul.

    The pay-TV platform serving Turkey today offers more than 150 television, radio and interactive channels incorporating national and international programming. Channels recently joining the platform include Disney Channel Turkey, which has signed a contract with Digiturk for exclusive carriage of Disney Channel Turkey which began broadcasting on April 29 Digiturk is also preparing for the introduction later in 2007 of new HDTV and Video on Demand services through its capacity on W3A.

    “Eutelsat has been the unique satellite provider for Digiturk since it launched into the pay-TV market in 2000,” said Olivier Milliès-Lacroix, Eutelsat’s Commercial Director “We are very pleased to further strengthen this relationship through additional capacity on our W3A satellite which is optimised for Direct-to-Home reception via its unique footprint which reaches into Digiturk’s core markets.”
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Freewire adds MTV


    Inuk Networks’ Freewire has added a suite of channels from MTV Networks UK to its IPTV delivered service. It follows recent deals with Channel 4, Five and S4C, all of which have been added to Freewire TV, available to student and residential viewers across the UK. Included in the package are core channels MTV and VH1, alongside MTV Hits, MTV2, MTV Dance, MTV Flux and VH1 Classic.
    “We are always looking to work with partners who can help us make MTV content available to as many people and in as many ways as possible, across multiple platforms, said Arran Tindall, director, affiliate sales, MTV Networks UK & Ireland. “IPTV is a new and exciting way of experiencing TV and by joining together MTV and Freewire TV we will be ensuring we reach as wide an audience as possible, with a particular focus on the huge UK student population ¬ who are already fans of MTV content.”
    Freewire broadcasts over the high speed JANET network that links together Britain’s universities and their halls of residence.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    EuroNews launches branded channels with YouTube

    EuroNews has made its multilingual content available for YouTube users in Europe, Brazil and Japan.
    The brand is the first international news channels to bring its content in 7 languages to YouTube.
    YouTube users in Ireland, UK, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, France, Brazil and Japan will now have the ability to watch EuroNews programmes.
    Philippe Cayla, Chairman and chief executive of EuroNews said: "Bringing EuroNews to YouTube allows us to target successfully the new generation of media consumers. EuroNews is probably the most distributed and innovative channel on the new media market."
    Launched in January 1993, EuroNews is broadcast 24-hours a day in seven languages English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian across cable, digital satellite and terrestrial distribution.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    ARD expands Astra capacity


    German public broadcaster ARD will expand its Astra satellite capacity from January, 2008. The additional transponder will not be used for additional programming, but rather to improve picture quality of its transmissions.
    According to the ARD press department the move is in response to the growing number of flat screens in German homes, which require a better picture quality. The average data rate of the channels will be upped to 6 Mbps.
    The broadcaster will also start to simulcast its main channel Das Erste in HD from 2010 onwards. The first regular HD broadcasts will start during the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
    ARD will also launch a special 100 seconds long edition of its Tageschau news programme for mobile TV users. From July onwards the news will be uodated on an hourly basis and will be available for download. From October ARD will also offer an online ‘on demand’ service for its programmes.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    French DTT to reach 70% by July


    With eleven new transmitters to go on the air the French DTT service is set to reach 70% of the population by the end of July. In June the following transmitters will come on the air: in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region: Menton ; in Lorraine: Bar-le-Duc, Epinal, Vittel; in Rhône-Alpes: Chambéry, Montmélian; in Champagne-Ardenne: Troye; and in Bourgogne: Auxerre.
    In July three more regions will be reached in Bourgogne covering the areas of Dijon, Sens and Mâcon. The new transmitters will reach a total of more than two million French.
    In October seven areas in the Northeastern part of the country will also be covered. These include the region of Alsace (Mulhouse, Strasbourg) and Lorraine (Forbach, Metz, Nancy, Sarrebourg, Verdun). By year end between 80 and 85% of the French should be served by DTT.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Wimbledon on ESPN

    ESPN will kick off its most extensive coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament ever, with more than 123 hours of coverage on ESPN2 and three separate channels on ESPN360.com, ESPN’s broadband service.
    Daylong live coverage will begin on Monday, June 25, and continue through Sunday, July 8.
    ESPN2’s weekday coverage will begin at 7 a.m. with Wake Up to Wimbledon, a one-hour preview show of that day’s events. Live coverage of matches will air throughout the day and night.
    Dick Enberg will call the matches, along with Cliff Drysdale. Analysts will include Patrick McEnroe, Mary Joe Fernandez, Pam Shriver, Mary Carillo and Darren Cahill. Chris Fowler will host Wake Up to Wimbledon. Chris McKendry will host the evening highlights show.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    SES Americom Launches IP-PRIME IPTV Solution


    SES AMERICOM, an SES company (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg exchanges: SESG), today announced the commercial availability of its Internet protocol television (IPTV) solution, IP-PRIME®, the most comprehensive end-to-end and turnkey IPTV solution for telecommunications companies. After extensive and successful technical trials with large, medium and small sized telcos across the United States, IP-PRIME is now available to any North American telco looking for a fast, cost-effective means to offer their customers a world-class television service.
    SES AMERICOM’s IP-PRIME gives telecommunications companies the ability to compete and win new subscribers by offering television together with their other services. Adding television service can be complex and expensive, yet it is a necessary undertaking for telcos to complete their triple play portfolio of voice, data and television services. Telcos of all sizes will find IP-PRIME minimizes the risk of a complex technical integration, simplifies difficult program acquisition challenges and lowers their financial risks for launching a television service.
    SES AMERICOM, with more than thirty years of experience in delivering television signals from programmers to cable and broadcast networks, has architected a solution that gives telcos and private network operators everything they need to deliver a fully-featured television service over existing network infrastructures. IP-PRIME delivers a complete array of programming channel options, a carrier-grade headend, a choice of consumer set top boxes and multiple middleware solutions that make it all work. Customers benefit from SES AMERICOM’s expertise in television distribution, helping ensure that customers select a proven technical solution, thus reducing both the technical risk and financial cost of deploying a new video service. The IP-PRIME solution not only delivers high-quality video, it also saves customers millions of dollars of capital and operational expenditures when compared to the costs of building their own service.

    “SES AMERICOM has utilized our decades of experience to build an IPTV solution that is the closest thing to flicking a switch to turn on service,” said Bill Squadron, senior vice president of media partnerships at SES AMERICOM. “We invested tens of millions of dollars and over two years developing IP-PRIME, and put the solution through extensive testing so we can be sure we’re offering our customers the most complete, easiest-to-deploy and most cost-effective path for them to offer their subscribers television service. The result of our efforts is that SES AMERICOM is the first company to bring an end-to-end, satellite-based television service to market built completely on the new MPEG-4 video standard.”
    The entire solution is based on the MPEG-4 digital video standard that offers improved video quality together with greater bandwidth efficiency over the MPEG-2 standard. The MPEG-4 standard makes IP-PRIME particularly ideal for enabling networks to accommodate numerous applications and features, as well as accommodate the explosive growth in HDTV channels.
    The IP-PRIME ecosystem employs open, standards-based technologies from multiple world-class technology partners. SES AMERICOM tests and qualifies each third-party technology or middleware component before integrating it into IP-PRIME. By using open standards and ensuring interoperability, SES AMERICOM is providing customers with options, and ensuring that their service is leading edge today and well into the future.

    IP-PRIME comes with existing transport agreements for over 275 television channels and over 100 digital music channels, giving customers the easiest way to offer a broad range of diverse programming. This program line up includes over 20 HDTV channels, as well as pay per view programming and the ability to offer video-on-demand service. Customers can pick and choose which channels to include in their line-up, and can easily integrate local programming.
    “Because of SES AMERICOM’s years of leadership and technical innovation in broadcast television, we selected IP-PRIME as the exclusive end-to-end IPTV service for our rural telco members,” said Steve Bing, senior vice president of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC). “Our members tell us that IPTV service will be a critical component of their service portfolio, and SES AMERICOM is giving them the easiest path to a very comprehensive service. With IP-PRIME, NRTC members will have the fastest path to bring to market a complete and technically advanced television service.”
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Intelsat Launches Global Maritime Solution


    Intelsat Ltd., the world's leading provider of commercial satellite services, announced on 19.06.2007 the launch of its new Network Broadband GLOBAL Maritime service, the latest addition to Intelsat's GlobalConnex portfolio of services, as well as the signing of a multi-year distribution agreement with Schlumberger.

    This solution is bringing new levels of bandwidth capabilities to the maritime industry and it is ideally suited for maritime fleet management and oilfield service providers seeking global data and voice connectivity regardless of their fleet or maritime structure location.
    Utilizing Intelsat's global satellite C-band capacity, the Network Broadband GLOBAL Maritime network operates at rates up to 2Mbps, with the initial service offering continuous communications with high-powered bandwidth rates from 128kbps to 512kbps. In addition, Intelsat's Network Broadband GLOBAL Maritime service offers "always-on" broadband access that provides customers with continuous bandwidth for a fixed monthly fee.
    In addition to its industry-leading bandwidth rates, Intelsat's Network Broadband GLOBAL Maritime service differentiates itself from other offerings by incorporating two unique technical features. The first feature is an integrated Automatic Beam Switching system, which seamlessly transfers service between the satellites and maintains a site's Internet session while the vessel is underway, eliminating the need for complex and costly manual intervention such as the re-pointing of antennas. The second feature, the platform's Global Network Monitoring System, offers customers the ability to monitor all remote locations from a single monitoring site at any location desired by the customer. The requirements of companies managing vessel fleets and maritime infrastructures desiring efficient connectivity worldwide were the driving force behind these design features.

    Intelsat will market this maritime communications solution to the maritime and oil and gas industries via a select group of distribution service providers who will then be responsible for customer network management, application support and installation, and maintenance of remote terminals on vessels or structures.
    Schlumberger, the leading oilfield services provider, has signed a multi-year agreement to distribute Intelsat's Network Broadband GLOBAL Maritime service to the oil and gas market. Schlumberger enables oil companies to connect their offices to remote drilling and production operations to support collaborative decision making through shared access to information applications and networks.

    "Always-on connectivity is important for our ability to relay real-time data to our customers," said Andy Lucas, Director of Global Connectivity Services at Schlumberger.

    "When developing this service, we took into consideration the critical current needs of the market and most importantly, what our customers were seeking in next-generation services. Having Schlumberger as a distribution partner speaks directly to the strength and uniqueness of our service offering," said Jay Yass, Intelsat's Vice President of Network Services. "Schlumberger's experience and global presence in the maritime oil and gas industry made them the ideal go-to-market partner as we introduce the service worldwide."

    Intelsat's Network Broadband GLOBAL Maritime platform uses capacity on three ocean-region satellites: IS-605 at 174 degrees E, IS-707 at 307 degrees E and IS-906 at 64 degrees E. Likewise, primary hubs at Intelsat's teleports of Fuchsstadt and Riverside and backup hubs of Intelsat's Mountainside and Atlanta teleports round out the seamless global network unrivaled by other offerings in the industry.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    New Czech channel satellite mooted

    The Czech Republic may soon see the launch of a new 24-hour satellite-delivered lifestyle channel named R1. Local reports indicate that the entrepreneur Milos Cervenka, who recently secured a majority stake in the parliamentary channel 24.cz, plans to apply to the Broadcasting Council (RRTV) for a licence for R1. Cervenka currently controls 24.cz through Espanta, which holds a stake in the channel’s licence holder, Region Media.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Tiscali TV adds Universal's PictureBox service

    Broadband service provider Tiscali UK has launched Universal Pictures' new on-demand movie service, PictureBox, on its internet protocol television (IPTV) platform, currently being rolled out to key cities beyond its London base.
    PictureBox costs £5 per month, and Tiscali TV subscribers are able to choose from 28 movies.
    Tiscali UK content chief Jonathan Sykes said: "This is a great addition to the range of films currently available to Tiscali TV subscribers. The pedigree of titles that this deal gives our subscribers access to is unparalleled and we're excited to add the PictureBox brand to our TV package."
    Earlier this month Tiscali UK added three Disney-branded channels to Tiscali TV, which launched on March 1 when 40,000 subscribers of the former HomeChoice service, pioneered by Video Networks and acquired last year by Tiscali, became Tiscali TV customers.
    Tiscali aims to make Tiscali TV available to more than 10m homes by the end of the year.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Showtime and ART - Pay TV titans kick off row


    Pay TV giants Showtime and ART have clashed over the advertising of English Premier League football matches. While it is the close-season for teams in the England, the two rival satellite operators have already kicked off hostilities for next season with a dispute over advertisements used to promote coverage of the sport's most lucrative league.
    ART's Dubai-based advertising agency OMD last week contacted publications to say that a print advertisement being distributed by Showtime contravened advertising regulations by mentioning ART by name.
    The agency sent out what it claimed was a copy of the ad in question, which shows Arsenal footballer Thierry Henry and features slogans which target current subscribers of rival services provided by ART and SuperSport.

    "ART Subscribers: You will only get some delayed club coverage, the only way to see all 380 games live is on Showtime," reads one caption on the ad.

    "As you can see the ad content is harmful to our client ART since there is a clear text addressed to the subscribers of ART. As per the advertising laws in the GCC and under the IAA rules comparative advertising is not allowed," OMD manager of buying Carole Matar said in an e-mail to publications.

    However Showtime have hit back, denying wrongdoing and alleging that misleading advertising from some rival operators had forced the Premier League to issue an official statement confirming Showtime has the sole rights to live matches next season.
    GDN informed Showtime of ART's allegations and received a reply from the firm's vice-president of marketing and public relations Azhar Malik.

    "Research from the markets proved that a series of inaccurate communications to existing pay TV customers about what is available and with whom had the net effect of leaving sports fans confused. In order to clear up the confusion around the exclusivity of the English Premier League we clearly communicated the facts to the audience that were being misled," he said.

    The Premier League recently issued a statement confirming that live matches will be the exclusive preserve of Showtime, beginning next season.

    "Showtime Arabia has acquired the broadcast rights for the Middle East and North Africa for the next three seasons starting in August 2007 and is the only network that is able to broadcast live games.

    No other broadcaster in the region has the rights to air any of the Premier League games live or even delayed on the same day," the league's head of international broadcasting and media operations Phil Lines said. Speaking to the GDN, Matar of OMD said ART would take strong action if it suspected any of its competitors were using its name without permission.

    "I received a legal note yesterday evening saying that anyone who issues any material using the name of ART will be sued or will have to suffer the consequences - anyone who publishes anything which includes their name that they haven't the right to do so," she said.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Star TV for Europe

    Star TV has launched their channels Star Plus, Star One and Star Gold across continental Europe (excluding the UK and The Republic of Ireland) on the WorldTV platform. The channel launches are part of WorldTV’s bouquet of seven pay television channels which are now available across Europe.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    BC Partners Wins Bidding for Intelsat



    Following an auction that included a failed joint bid by Liberty Media and EchoStar Communications, BC Partners will acquire a majority stake in Intelsat for $5 billion.
    Intelsat -- the world’s leading provider of fixed-satellite services -- signed a definitive agreement for funds advised by BC Partners to purchase a majority of the shares of its parent company, Intelsat Holdings.
    The BC Partners-led group will acquire about 76% of the primary ownership of Intelsat Holdings in a transaction valuing the company’s equity at about $5.03 billion. Taking into account the roughly $11.4 billion of Intelsat debt as of March 31, the enterprise valuation implied by the transaction is about $16.4 billion.
    In addition to BC Partners, Liberty and EchoStar put in a joint bid for Intelsat, and Loral Space & Communications also took part in the auction, according to The Wall Street Journal.
    The current shareholders of Intelsat -- including funds advised by Apax Partners, Apollo Management, Madison Dearborn Partners, Permira and management -- are expected to receive upon closing about $4.6 billion in cash, and they will continue to hold about 24% of the primary ownership of Intelsat Holdings.
    “This transaction highlights the significant value Intelsat has created for its shareholders and the tremendous opportunities the business and employees will enjoy going forward,” Intelsat CEO Dave McGlade said in a prepared statement. “The company has thrived under private-equity ownership, including the 2006 completion of the transformative PanAmSat combination that firmly established Intelsat’s global leadership position. As a result, we have a keen appreciation for the financial and strategic support that a firm such as BC Partners can provide. We are confident that they will continue to endorse Intelsat’s objectives for revenue growth and operating improvements.”

    McGlade is expected to continue to serve as CEO and remain focused on serving the company’s global customer base in the media, network-services and government sectors.
    The deal is expected to close within six to nine months upon the satisfaction of customary conditions, including appropriate regulatory approvals. As a result of the anticipated financings, Intelsat’s debt is expected to increase by approximately $3.85 billion at closing.
    BC Partners obtained financing commitments from a group of financial institutions led by affiliates of Credit Suisse, Banc of America Securities and Morgan Stanley for $5.11 billion, the proceeds of which will be used to fund the transaction, to repay certain indebtedness and to pay certain transaction fees and expenses. This debt will be assumed by a new entity junior to Intelsat (Bermuda).

    As part of the transaction, Intelsat expects to retire about $860 million of existing debt at Intelsat (Bermuda) and to retire the $400 million in Intelsat 5.25% senior notes due 2008.
    Credit Suisse is acting as financial advisor to Intelsat, legal advisors to which include Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz; Wiley Rein; and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Merrill Lynch and Perella Weinberg Partners are acting as mergers-and-acquisitions advisors, Latham & Watkins as legal advisor and PricewaterhouseCoopers as financial advisor to BC Partners.
    BC Partners is an international private-equity firm operating through integrated teams based in Geneva, Switzerland; Hamburg, Germany; London; Milan, Italy; New York; and Paris.
    “Intelsat and the FSS sector are in the midst of a cycle of strong performance,” BC managing partner Raymond Svider said in a prepared statement. “Intelsat is the premier FSS satellite operator, with high-quality assets and a strong global brand. Its valuable cable and direct-to-home neighborhoods, strength in network applications, blue-chip customer base and solid backlog of long-term contracts create an attractive investment opportunity. We look forward to working with and supporting Intelsat’s management team as they pursue their growth strategies.”
    Salut Prieteni!


 

 

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