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  1. #1
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    Default Transponder news 31.07.2007

    RTL in 'Premiere Star'


    German commercial broadcaster RTL will make its digital pay-TV channels RTL Crime and RTL Living, along with Passion (jointly operated with TV production company UFA), available on Premiere’s pay-TV platform from autumn.
    According to the Cologne-based broadcaster, a long-term agreement has been signed with Premiere’s third party marketing and distribution platform Premiere Star for carriage of the channels.
    RTL Living will commence in September on Premiere Star via Astra (19.2° East). From October, RTL Crime will form part of the package Premiere Thema, which will be marketed via cable and satellite by Premiere Star, while Passion will join Premiere Thema in January 2008.
    RTL Crime, RTL Living and Passion were launched on December 1 2006. The channels, which focus on the genres of crime and action, advice and lifestyle, soap operas and telenovelas respectively, are financed through a mixed model of subscription fees, advertising and sponsoring.
    The channels are already available via Astra as part of the pay-TV package “arenaFAMILY”, operated by cable company Unitymedia, but until now they have not formed part of Premiere’s offer. The channels are also carried on Unitymedia’s pay-TV platform via cable in the regional states of North-Rhine Westphalia and Hessen and form part of the IPTV packages of Deutsche Telekom and the Telecom Italia subsidiary HanseNet. With the extended distribution via Premiere, RTL Crime and Passion will become available nationwide on cable networks.
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    NASA Starts Space Shuttle Endeavour Countdown Aug. 4


    NASA will start the launch countdown for space shuttle Endeavour's STS-118 mission at 9 p.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 4, at T-43 hours. The countdown includes 27 hours, 3 minutes of built-in hold time leading to a preferred launch time at 7:02 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 7. The launch window extends an additional five minutes.
    During the 11-day mission to the International Space Station, Endeavour's crew will add another truss segment to the expanding station, install a new gyroscope and add an external spare parts platform. The flight will have at least three spacewalks. It also will debut a new system that enables docked shuttles to draw electrical power from the station to extend visits to the outpost. If this system functions as expected, three additional days will be added to the STS-118 mission.
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    ITV ad revenue not made up by digital



    The growth of ITV's digital channels will not be enough to compensate for the ad revenue decline at flagship ITV1, according to a report by media planning and buying agency ZenithOptimedia. By contrast it found that both Channel 4 and Channel Five are successfully compensating for ad revenue declines on their core channels through ad income growth on their digital services.
    Looking at this year E4, More4 and Film4 "should more than make up" for a 2 per cent expected decline at the flagship Channel 4 network, with overall ad revenue growth of 1 per cent predicted across the portfolio, according to the Zenith report. Channel 4's digital channels will bring in a combined £141m (E203m) in ad revenue this year, up from £115m last year; the core Channel 4 network will see ad revenue drop from £664m last year to £650m in 2007.
    Five Life and Five US should turn a 2.6 per cent predicted drop in revenue for Five's main analogue channel into a 2.1 per cent increase for the group, according to the report. The broadcaster's digital portfolio will bring in £13m in ad revenue this year, Zenith forecasts, compensating for a drop in revenue at the main Five analogue network from £286m last year to £279m in 2007.
    However, ITV's four digital channels - ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV - "are not growing fast enough", despite significant audience share growth, to make up for ITV1's predicted 7 per cent decline in ad revenues this year. Overall ZenithOptimedia is predicting ad revenues to shrink by 4% across all ITV-branded TV channels.
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    Spain: TV ad expenditure grows by 8%


    Spain's TV ad spending (45.6 per cent of all advertising pie) are grew in 2007 with a growth of 8 per cent in the first half of the year. Commercial TV channels attracted E.1.777 billion until June, with Mediaset-controlled channel Tele 5, the ratings winner, taking the lion's share with E550 million, according to Infoadex. The second was Antena 3 TV with E449 million, followed by the state-owned channel TVE 1 with E381 million; Cuatro, with E 151 million and La Sexta, with E62 million.
    All in all, nation wide TV operators registered a growth of 10.5 per cent up to E1.6 billion whereas Regional TV stations saw their ad revenues drop by 10 per cent up to E184 million.
    Internet and thematic channels are experiencing the largest growth with a rise of 34.4 per cent up to E 86 million and 27.4 per cent up to E25.9 million, respectively.
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    Liberty considers move on Virgin Media


    John Malone, the US media mogul, is considering entering the $23bn auction for Virgin Media, just as turbulence in leveraged finance markets is making the British cable company a tougher target for private equity suitors.
    In an interview with the Financial Times, the chairman of Liberty Global described his interest as exploratory but said the group was “doing our homework”.
    “The UK market is big and complex and [Virgin Media] has a lot of interesting financial attributes to it,” he said, referring to the estimated £12bn ($24.4bn) of accumulated losses that analysts believe could be used to offset tax on future profit.

    Mr Malone said such attributes meant: “We have to look at it, not in a traditional way but in a quite exceptional way, perhaps with partners, perhaps in ways we’d not regard a normal cable company.”
    Virgin Media has asked for indicative offers from more than 10 private equity firms and cable companies by August 8 after a $32-$33 per share proposal from Carlyle kicked off a formal auction.
    The challenge of financing a $23bn equity and debt package in increasingly tight credit markets could make Liberty Global an attractive partner for a private equity bidder.

    Concerns about bidders’ financing have weighed on Virgin Media’s Nasdaq-listed stock, which has fallen from above $29 ten days ago to close at $24.70 on Friday.
    Liberty Global, the holding company for Mr Malone’s non-US cable assets, spans much of Europe as well as cable systems in Japan and Latin America. However, it has been frustrated in two of Europe’s largest markets – the UK and Germany.

    Mr Malone said: “This is probably the largest cable transaction outside of the US we’re going to see in a reasonable timeframe.”
    However, he expressed concern about the challenge of competing with British Sky Broadcasting, controlled by R. Murdoch’s News Corp, in which Mr Malone was a leading shareholder until last year. “The bottom line issue is, can anything flourish under the Death Star?” he said, likening BSkyB to the superweapon in the Star Wars films.
    Mr Malone added: “The concentration of market power that’s been created means you have to scratch your head and say ‘can anything compete?’
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    DTV to soar in Eastern Europe

    The number of homes watching digital television in Eastern Europe will leap from a current 8m to 34.8m by 2012, according to a new research report from analyst Informa Telecoms & Media. Report author Adam Thomas said: "Several countries are becoming increasingly visible on the radar of international TV investors and I expect to see several major acquisitions and consolidations over the next few years.
    "While high-profile markets such as Poland and the Czech Republic continue to exhibit impressive progress, other countries such as Latvia and Slo'vakia are also now catching the eye."
    Digital satellite leads the way, with cable making slower progress towards digital conversion. The need to compete with IPTV and cable consolidation in territories such as the Czech Republic and Bulgaria will help drive cable conversion levels, said Informa.
    "With several recent launches and others in the pipeline, IPTV is starting to emerge as a credible alternative platform in some countries. Russia leads the way in terms of IPTV subscribers, although services in places such as Lithuania, Estonia and Slovenia are also making progress."
    Thomas said Russia will become Eastern Europe's digital leader over the next five years, with more than 10m digital households by 2012, up from an estimated 1.7m last year.
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    337,000 digital TV subs for KPN

    Dutch KPN reports the number of TV subscriptions increased in the second quarter with 41,000 net additions, an increase of 47% compared to Q2 2006, to 337,000. KPN has realized this growth mainly through their DTT service Digitenne by increased and improved marketing and by growing its network coverage throughout the Netherlands. KPN’s market share of the digital TV market at the end of Q2 was 14%, equivalent to 5% of the total TV market.
    TV is a strategic pillar in KPN’s multiplay offer, with low-cost DTT as challenger to cable while IPTV, a proposition called ‘Interactive TV’ (formerly Mine) is positioned as a premium product with value added services such as video on demand and a larger number of optional channels. As of August 1, KPN will implement a new TV (pricing) strategy based on triple play. The DTT proposition will start at EUR 6.95 for the basic package, an average 50% discount compared to cable and the IPTV proposition will start at EUR 9.95 for the basic package, available only in combination with DSL/VoIP.
    After approval by the NMa, the Dutch competition authority, KPN and Télédiffusion de France (TDF) closed the sale of 24 towers on May 16, resulting in EUR 75m of sales proceeds and a EUR 51m real estate book gain.
    In the Netherlands, building corporations are increasingly investing in so called Fiber-to-the-Home (FttH) projects to increase the perceived value of their real estate. These building corporations account for some 25% of Dutch residencies. KPN is selectively participating in FttH initiatives where the business case is profitable. Typically, in partnership with these building corporations, KPN invests in fiber to the street cabinets and the partners invest in the fiber connection to the home. So far KPN has installed FttH in new build houses since 2006 and started a joint project in Enschede.
    In broadband, the KPN retail market share increased by 4% points to nearly 45% following the acquisition of Tiscali. Excluding Tiscali, KPN’s market share would have been relatively stable at 41%, partly as a result of the lower VoIP uptake in Q2 2007. By effectively using the multi-brand strategy and intensifying the sale activities for ADSL only offerings, KPN saw a recovery in June which it expects to continue.
    The acquisition of Tiscali in the Netherlands was closed June 19 and adds 249k customers, of which some 200k are retail subscribers. Corrected for intercompanies, the anticipated contribution from Tiscali for 2007 is about EUR 35m in revenues and EUR 7m in EBITDA including integration costs.
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    X Games 13 to Play on All ESPN Platforms


    ESPN this week will offer coverage of X Games 13 on a variety of platforms -- various TV networks, digital and mobile outlets, Apple’s iTunes and EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network’s interactive television.
    In addition to comprehensive television coverage on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, ESPN is using all of its digital platforms to allow fans anywhere, with any device, the ability to follow action sports’ top athletes.
    In total, ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will offer 14-and-one-half hours of X Games coverage. And fans will also find extensive X Games 13 content on EXPN.com, ESPN360 and ESPN mobile platforms, including ESPN Mobile TV and ESPN MVP.

    X Games 13 starts in Los Angeles Thursday, Aug. 2.

    EXPN.com and ESPN360 will offer more than 40 hours of live programming -- a combination of Web-exclusive and simulcast coverage from ESPN and ESPN2.
    The newly redesigned EXPN.com will offer comprehensive coverage from the event, including: exclusive multimedia coverage of each final and each qualifier; blogs and vlogs from Moto X rider Brian Deegan and skateboarder Danny Way; X13 Podcasts -- video and audio podcasts available via the ESPN Podcenter, EXPN.com and iTunes; and X13 Surf Webcast, a free replay of the X Games 13 surfing competition held July 3-6 in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
    iTunes is the exclusive source for downloads from X Games 13, and it will have a dedicated section featuring free and premium content that includes music of the X Games, videos, podcasts and athlete celebrity playlists. X Games gold medalists Ricky Carmichael (Moto X) and Kevin Robinson (BMX) will provide their own personal playlists, including their favorite 12-15 songs and commentary on the selections.
    Free X Games video content on iTunes will include top X Games moments and video recaps of the events. X Games content available for purchase and download on iTunes will include 14 exclusive long-form video packages from before, during and after the event, varying in length from 20-45 minutes. These videos can be purchased individually for $1.99 or as a “Season Pass” for $19.99.

    ESPN and MediaFLO USA, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, will team up to offer eight hours of live X Games coverage daily, from Aug. 2-5, on EXPN, a special mobile-TV channel dedicated solely to the X Games -- a first on MediaFLO USA’s FLO TV mobile-television service.
    Viewers will be able to watch everything from practices, qualifying events and finals beginning at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 2 and concluding at 6 p.m. Aug. 5. Highlights of previous years’ X Games will be shown on the channel through Aug. 1, and “Best of the X Games” and X Games 13 replays will air through Aug. 6-7. Mobile coverage will include a “double box” segment, allowing viewers inside the car to see two rally-car drivers compete side-by-side via in-car cameras.

    FLO TV is currently available through Verizon Wireless as V CAST Mobile TV. The dedicated X Games channel will supplement live coverage of the X Games on ESPN Mobile TV, one of the eight regular channels available on FLO TV.
    ESPN MVP -- ESPN’s signature mobile service, available exclusively through V CAST on Verizon Wireless -- will feature a dedicated content area, giving users one-touch access to all of the best ESPN multimedia content from X Games 13.
    Beginning Aug. 2 and continuing through the end of X Games 13 telecasts Aug. 5, ESPN, Dish and X Games are putting fans in control with ESPN Interactive X Games.

    The interactive channel -- available on the direct-broadcast satellite service’s channel 100 -- will enable fans to enjoy six X Games channels on one screen. There will be channels for X Games 13, the Best of X and four sport dedicated channels -- skateboards, BMX, surfing and engines.
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    The Taiwanese Digital Satellite STB Industry, 3Q 2007

    Global digital satellite TV services are growing steadily in 2007. Service providers in North America, Western and Eastern Europe, and East Asia are pushing paid services such as HDTV (High-Definition TV), DVR (Digital Video Recorder), and Push-VOD (Video on Demand), stimulating replacement demand for digital STB (Set-Top Box) and that for advanced models, such as DTV (Digital TV) and DVR STBs. Meanwhile, the number of subscribers for free satellite TV services in South Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and China has been seeing steady growth, which is expected to induce STB demand as well. It is expected that global digital satellite STB shipment volume will reach 67.3 million units in 2007, with shipment ratio between CA (Conditional Access) STBs and non-CA/CI (Common Interface) STBs reaching 48:52.
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    Rai Int. & Italian government: new convention


    Rai International, the international division of Italian public broadcaster Rai, and the Italian government have signed a new convention about the future of Rai International. The document was signed at a ceremony last Thursday by Rai President Claudio Petruccioli, together with Piero Badaloni, Managing Director of Rai International, and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi.
    Romano Prodi declared that the new convention is a great step forward in a globalised world. Under the new convention, Rai International can create an international news channel in addition to the main Rai International channel. Rai International will be broadcast for the first time in Europe, and will also be available to Italians in Italy through satellite, although they are not the target of Rai International.
    A few of Rai International’s own productions will also be shown on Rai Uno/Rai Due/Rai Tre in Italy as ‘return information’. Launch dates for the European channel and the news channel have not yet been announced. It is also not known if the European channel will replace Rai Uno on cable systems where there is only space for one Rai channel.
    Piero Badaloni, who since joining Rai International has been building a plan to revamp the international services of the Italian broadcaster, also stated that he wants to make Rai International a point of reference for the new generation of Italians in South America. From the start of the new season (September/October) Rai International will focus more on the younger generation, after years of programming aimed at the older generation.
    The convention replaces old conventions which previously were separate agreements for the radio and television departments of Rai International. In total Rai International will have an annual budget of 35 million euros for its TV services.
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    Europe: 9,000 channels by 2015


    “Greater” Europe is likely to be receiving more than 9,000 TV channels by 2015, says satellite operator Eutelsat. This is up from the 5,500 channels on air at June 2007.
    Eutelsat says that there were 56 HDTV channels available at June 30 (and it was carrying 17 of them, plus another five “test” transmissions). HD services over Europe would grow to more than 400 by 2015. Eutelsat was quoting Northern Sky Research data.
    To tap into this expansion, Eutelsat is developing a new hot bird position at 9 deg East. Viewers will soon be able to buy a subsidised ‘dual LNB’ which will give them two complete sets of satellite reception, at 13 deg East (Eutelsat’s existing Hot Bird slot) as well as the 9 deg East position – which already carries 171 channels.
    The newly developed LNB is easily fixed “even by an ordinary electrician” says Eutelsat boss Giuliano Berretta. “The important thing is that the dish itself does not need to be re-aligned, which is always difficult.” Eutelsat says it will be subsidising the cost of these new devices, so that they’ll be the same price as a single LNB.
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    Ten Sports and Goal TV agreed a new multi year deal


    Ten Sports and Goal TV agreed a new multi year deal which will allow Goal TV’s exclusive football content to be shown to the 50 million households of Ten Sports and Zee Sports in the Indian sub-continent.
    The agreement also sees the production of Goal TV’s two all-football channels shift to the Ten Sports headquarters in Dubai. Goal TV founder Thomas Kressner said “it is an excellent development for us to partner with the Indian sub-continent’s leading sports channel, with its huge daily audience and solid production experience”.
    Goal TV’s content includes exclusive live action from the French, Scottish and Dutch premier leagues and programming from top English clubs Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, and Spanish La Liga club Barcelona.
    Ten Sports senior vice President Peter Hutton said “this volume of excellent football content is part of a growing bouquet of football rights on Ten and Zee Sports. It supports our existing deals with the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, UEFA Supercup, FIFA, AFC, the English championship and the All India football federation”
    The new agreement means that Taj TV, parent company of Ten Sports, will now produce and transmit nine channels from its Dubai based headquarters, ranging from the “Cricket Plus” channel for Directv in North America to the “Football Channel” for Singapore cable operator Starhub.
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    Seven Network defeated in pay-TV suit


    Australia's Seven Network has defended the multimillion-dollar lawsuit it filed against 17 Australia media companies for anti-competitive conduct over pay-TV sports rights after a judge threw out the legal action.
    Seven Network chairman Kerry Stokes said in a statement on Friday that Seven will consider its right to appeal after a judge dismissed the largest legal action in Australian corporate history.
    Seven alleged in 1999 that its pay-TV arm, C7, had been driven out of business by rivals including News Corp, Telstra Corp and Foxtel, after they colluded to deprive Seven of access to pay-TV rights to the National Rugby League and the Australian Football League.
    The case is estimated to have cost more than A$200m (US$172m) to date. Seven was seeking damages of up to A$480m from 17 Australian media companies.
    However, after 10 months, Justice Ronald Sackville dismissed Seven's claims and said the network was "the author of its own misfortune."
    The Seven board has not yet formally considered appealing against the Federal Court ruling but it is thought likely it will do so, in an effort to minimise Seven's final payout.
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    ESPN, MediaFLO USA and Verizon Mobile channel


    Sports network ESPN, MediaFLO and wireless network Verizon have teamed up to deliver a new mobile TV channel, EXPN on V CAST Mobile TV, that offers footage of X Games 13 as well as live competitions, behind-the-scenes coverage and commentary to mobile phones. EXPN will be available for the duration of extreme sports competition X Games 13.
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    Thomson to aid UK Digital switchover


    Arqiva, the independent broadcast transmission provider in the UK, has appointed Thomson as its supplier for high power digital television transmitters for the BBC. Arqiva has won a contract from the BBC for the BBC's new digital high power terrestrial network. To service this contract, which involves delivering two digital multiplexes, Arqiva has ordered 24 new Thomson Paragon IOT (inductive output tube) transmitters.
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