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Thread: News 30.10.2007

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    Default News 30.10.2007

    Bharti Airtel selects NDS for digital service

    NDS, provider of technology solutions for digital pay-TV, has been selected by Bharti Airtel to provide a suite of digital broadcasting solutions for the launch of the company’s digital satellite service. Bharti Airtel announced recently that the Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has granted the company a Letter of Intent, licensing the new DTH platform. NDS will provide Bharti Airtel with VideoGuard conditional access, MediaHighway middleware as well as a customised electronic programme guide.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Hulu man says TV will premiere globally

    The head of Hulu, the new online video joint venture between NBC Universal and News Corp has predicted that television companies will follow the film industry’s lead, by releasing programmes simultaneously around the world.
    Jason Kilar, chief executive of Hulu, which launches in a test phasethis week, said the explosion of online video made it inevitable the TV industry would also move towards simultaneous global distribution. Hollywood studios are releasing films at the same time in different markets to fight piracy. "Television is heading in the same direction. At the end of the day, the users will win and will get access to content on their own terms."
    Providence, the private equity group, has invested $100 million (E69m) in Hulu, which is a free, advertising-supported service. Unlike YouTube, Hulu will shun user-generated content in favour of programmes from NBC and News Corp-owned Fox. Hulu has also struck content deals with MGM and Sony.
    Yahoo, Microsoft’s MSN network, Comcast, AOL and MySpace will also distribute content from Hulu on their own sites to ensure it reaches as broad an audience as possible.
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    Sky’s vote proposals unlikely to be enough

    Virgin Media says proposals by BSkyB to resolve concerns over its stake in ITV do not go far enough. The satellite broadcaster has offered to surrender some voting rights over a portion of its 17.9 per ent holding to address concerns raised by the Competition Commission. But Virgin Media insists that Sky should offload the entire stake.
    The Commission has proposed that Sky sell all or part of its stake, but the regulator added that it was open to other solutions. Sky says its settlement would address the commission's main concern – that Sky could block a major share issue by ITV, which would need the approval of 75 per cent of votes cast. With typical voter turnout at 71 per cent, Sky could have a blocking stake. BSkyB is proposing to place 3 per cent of its voting rights in ITV with an independent trustee, who would be free to vote as it chose, without consulting Sky management.
    BSkyB held meetings with the Competition Commission last week and, in a letter published on the regulator’s website, argued that with just 14.9 per cent of voting rights, it would not be able to block any strategic decisions at ITV. However, the suggestion is unlikely to convince the Commission, as it would be a "behavioural" remedy, a solution that the watchdog has already ruled out as ineffective.
    Virgin Media has also written to the Competition Commission saying that "the retention of any stake by BSkyB would be prob-lematic".
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Trials for Taiwanese IPTV

    Taiwanese IPTV operator Taiwan Interactive TV (TITV) has reportedly started trials of a 24-channel offering on the network of Chunghwa Telecom.
    The offering includes both on-demand and real-time content and covers genres including news, sports, arts and music as well as movies and dramas. TITV is targeting 500,000 subs within three years.
    Taiwan’s communications regulator recently required Chunghwa Telecom to open its multimedia network to any operators wishing to use it, for NT$800,000 per channel per month.
    TITV is owned by Chinese Satellite Communication Group which already operates four Chinese DTH platforms, C-Sky-Net, I-Sky-Net, A-Sky-Net and 146 Sky-Net, targeted at the Taiwanese, Hong Kong and Chinese diaspora. The company also operates four channels – Chinese Stock Channel, Asia Travel Channel, CSTV and Boss Golf.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    US analog switch-off creates concerns


    The UK has just switched off a tiny Cumbria port’s analogue reception. Does this hold lessons for US viewers?
    The small town of Whitehaven’s population have been bombarded with publicity, leaflets, targeted advertising and more TV crews than most people would see in a lifetime. And still the vast majority of its viewers left things until the very last minute to buy decoder boxes, especially for second and other sets. Digital TV has been available in the area for nine years.
    Now the countdown is on in the US, except it isn’t one tiny town that will go dark but the whole nation. Switch off night is barely 480 days away, when the nation’s 111m homes will lose their analogue signals (on February 17, 2009). NAB research says some 19.6m homes depend entirely on over-the-air analogue transmissions.
    Bruce Leichtman (of Leichtman Research) says some 36% of US TV sets are not connected to any sort of cable or DTH box. Nationally, all but 15% of US homes are connected to some sort of cable or DTH service, and many of these subscribing homes have extra boxes in second rooms, bedrooms, etc. Leichtman is not alone is expressing concern. A recent survey revealed that more than two-thirds (67%) of consumers could not name any benefits that would accrue from digital TV. Leichtman describes the situation as “below apathy” saying that analogue switch off isn’t even on consumer’s radar.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    CSA plans sanctions against 9

    French TV regulator the CSA is ready to sanction several pay-TV channels for violating broadcasting and production rules.
    Channels involved are KTO, MCM, Télétoon, Playhouse Disney, Disney Channel, Planète Thalassa, Tiji, Filles TV and Canal J. The CSA is reproaching them for not respecting either the quota of French language content during prime time (KTO, MCM, Disney Channel) or support for independent production houses (Teletoon , Disney Channel, Planète) or French language production quotas (Playhouse Disney) during 2006.
    The CSA also asked gay channel Pink TV and local channels 3A Télésud and Beur TV to hand over their books.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Spanish channels prepare for pay DTT

    Spanish national TV channels Televisión Española, Antena 3, Telecinco, laSexta, VEO TV and Net TV have successfully concluded tests on pay-DTT.
    Mediapro (laSexta's owner) has recently declared it wants to offer 12 football matches for EUR12 each on pay-per-view on DTT starting from 2009 when it will control the rights of 38 first and second division clubs. Mediapro's general manager Jaume Roures believes Spanish DTT will not be able to maintain itself just with advertising.
    Tests have taken place in the Southern region of Extremadura and more recently in the town of Alcázar de San Juan near Madrid. Telecommunications network operator Abertis Telecom (the one owning the DTT network) is also involved in the project which implies the use of a new DTT decoder with a smart card reader. The test cards are universal: they are good for all of the DTT channels that will offer PPV. Users will just have to send an SMS message or make a conventional phone call to the channel offering this service in order to be able to watch the PPV event. The channel then disccounts the value of the purchase from the smart card inserted in the decoder.
    In this way all of the channels could dedicate their DTT channels to PPV simultaneously. This means each channels will be able to broadcast one of the football matches of the national League and the viewer will chose the channel he wants without previously having to subscribe to it or having to pay a monthly fee.
    The next pay DTT step will be for the broadcasters to reach agreements with equipment manufacturers. Experts say that could begin for the football season 2008-2009.
    Research company Plot-4 claims that 90% of the test users think of it as a "fantastic" service. And other experts declare PPV on Spanish DTT is the only way for Spain to reach its analogue switch off in 2010.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    SES: ‘More sats to be ordered’


    Satellite operator SES said on October 29 that the market should “not be surprised if it announced a couple of new satellite procurements in the next few weeks”.
    SES’ two new satellites are likely to be Quetzsat over Mexico and Central America, and a new satellite for SES New Skies. CEO Romain Bausch admitted that BSkyB’s decision to curtain the number of new channels available over the UK would impact SES’ future business. “We have good growth over the UK, and Globecast has recently taken extra capacity, but for the time being that there is a limitation in the number of channels that Sky can carry on the EPG will affect the market. There will continue to be growth, although it would be higher without these problems.”

    SES raised its 2007 and 2008 revenue guidance, and talked about EBITDA margins of 81% being exceeded. Indeed, SES unveiled a blistering set of Q3 results, with recurring revenues up a spectacular 9.9% (y-o-y) at €405m, with EBITDA up in the same period 17.1% to €290m. Bausch said the upward trend would continue. “We have revised upwards our 2007 guidance for both revenues and EBITDA. In our 2008 guidance, we show revenue growth exceeding six per cent. Over the period 2008 – 2010 the revenue CAGR will equal or exceed the growth rate foreseen in the guidance for 2008, with an infrastructure EBITDA margin of over 81%.”
    SES Astra had an impressive “fill rate” of 85%, with 240 out of 282 transponders busy, although down two per cent from 87% in June because of the addition of 16 transponders added with Astra 2C’s availability. SES Americom’s fill rate is also improving, to 74% or 339 out of 447 available transponders. But the greatest percentage fill rate progress was made by SES New Skies, now “shining” said CFO Mark Rigolle, and which saw y-o-y fill rate grow from 64% last year to 69% by June (220 out of 318 transponders).

    There’s plenty of new capacity coming on stream, namely Sirius-4 in November 2007, AMC-14 in February 2008 (and this launch date has slipped from Q4/07 because of the Proton problems earlier this year), Astra 1M and Americom’s AMC-21 in Q2 2008, and Ciel-2 over Canada and North America in Q4 2008. “In addition, we continue to assess potential select acquisitions that may complement our assets in key markets. Other initiatives to deliver value are being developed. For example, we have taken a group-wide approach to securing in-orbit insurance that has resulted in a favourable development in the insurance premiums payable,” said SES. The bottom line is that SES will add 230 new incremental transponders (including Astra 1L and AMC-18 already launched and now entering service), a 22% increase on the current (June 2007) manifest.
    Rigolle was able to give some fresh guidance as to likely end-2007 financials, saying that revenues to date (first nine months) would end up at about €1.196bn. SES expects to deliver revenue growth in excess of six per cent in 2008. Revenue is expected in the range between €1.623m and €1.663m, with EBITDA between €1.1bn and €1.14bn. Over the next three years (2008-2010), group revenue will deliver a CAGR exceeding six per cent, with an infrastructure EBITDA margin of over 81%. SES’ backlog stands at €6.1bn.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    NDS’ $622m war chest


    Conditional access specialist NDS is sitting on more than $622m of cash and cash equivalents, up $27m since June 2007.
    “Our accumulated cash is being held with the intention of using it for the future development of the business,” said CFO Alex Gersh.

    NDS saw revenues grow by a healthy 25% during its Q1, to September 30, up from $164m to $204.8m. Its operating margin also expanded from 26.2% to 28.4%, and both helped boost net income from $35m to $46.2m.
    Dr Abe Peled said new client wins were helping the overall picture, and he specifically mentioned Bharti Airtel in India and their MPEG4 launch, and said there was even more scope in India. NDS is already present with Tata Sky. In China there was also good news, and he reported Tianjin Broadcast had selected NDS for its new digital cable service. Vision TV in the Ukraine, in which MTG has a stake, is another new DTH platform for the NDS portfolio.
    “In China our strategy has been to focus on larger cities, and this is often reflecting Government initiatives. We have major wins in some of China’s largest cities, and are the market leaders,” said Peled.
    Peled said headcount had grown “substantially” owning to a very strong pipeline of products and services under development. He explained that not all of these projects would be reflected in results this year, but NDS took a multi-year view of its business.
    He also explained that 48% of NDS revenues were denominated in US dollars, and this had a favourable impact. “We estimate that the weaker US dollar favorably impacted our total revenue for the three-month period ended September 30, 2007 by approximately $8 million, or 4%, compared to what would have been achieved had foreign exchange rates been consistent with those prevailing during the three month period ended September 30, 2006,” said Peled.
    CA revenues were actually up even more than 25%, at 31%. “This was principally due to the fact that, during the three-month period ended September 30, 2007, we recognized a portion of security services revenue previously deferred as all remaining obligations were satisfied in accordance with our revenue recognition criteria. Additionally, conditional access revenue rose due to the higher number of smart cards delivered and a higher number of active subscribers.
    “Integration, development and support revenue decreased by 41% in the three-month period ended September 30, 2007 as compared to the corresponding period of the prior fiscal year. The recognition of revenue from new customers and from the delivery of enhancements to several of our major customers is dependent on the timing of satisfaction of all our revenue recognition criteria and therefore this component of our revenue tends to fluctuate from period to period.”
    R&D costs rose 47% during the quarter, largely spent on 533 new staff (including staff employed at acquired businesses) to 3665, which drove employee costs some 32% higher.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Sharp Debuts 22in and 26in 1080p TVsAuthor

    In an industry seemingly obsessed with claiming ever larger world's first labels for ungodly-big TVs Sharp's latest trio of Full HD, 1080p TVs may well surprise some readers. Rather than offering punters a new large set to long for, Sharp has gone the opposite way and unveiled the worlds smallest TVs sporting Full HD, 1,920 x 1,080 resolutions, specifically 32in, 26in and 22in models.
    The sets are being put forward as a combination of TV and PC monitor and I can't say the idea is a bad one, as I do just that already - albeit in a much messier manner. My personal PC setup aside, Sharp is offering the same basic spec across all three monitors, which pack dual Composite, dual HDMI ports and S-Video on the TV side while DVI and D-Sub make up the PC side of things. A digital tuner is embedded.
    The three sets carry 2,000:1, 1,500:1 and 1,200:1 contrast ratios on the 22in, 26in and 32in sets respectively, which isn't especially impressive by LCD TV standards, but should prove good enough for the not-too-discerning user. The sets will also offer Picture-In-Picture modes so you can watch TV and do some work at same time, or play some Bioshock perhaps. A UK release isn't specified but Japanese readers (if there are any) can grab these next month.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Spike TV Extends Deal for Ultimate Fighting Championship

    Spike TV and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) organization have agreed to a new, three-year extension of their partnership, which will see the male-skewing network remain as the basic-cable home of the mixed martial arts brand through 2011.
    Under the deal, brokered by the Endeavor Agency, Spike TV will air seasons 9 through 12 of the reality series The Ultimate Fighter. The first five seasons of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV were seen by 93 million viewers, and the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter currently airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. and averages more than 1.5 million viewers each week. Season seven begins production in January 2008.
    Spike TV will also broadcast 12 live fight cards, UFCFight Nights, hosted by Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, with four scheduled to air per year. The deal also encompasses two seasons of a new, weekly live fight series, with details to be announced at a later date; and 39 one-hour episodes of UFC Unleashed, hosted by Mike Goldberg, featuring the greatest fights in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, many of them never seen before on basic cable. Spike TV will run 13 per year in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
    "We are proud to be the television home of the country's hottest sports brand, which is now firmly established as a major, regulated sports franchise with an ever-growing fan base," said Kevin Kay, the president of Spike TV. "It is a testament to the dedication and foresight of UFC president Dana White that the UFC has emerged, since its debut on Spike TV three years ago, as a must-have for viewers and advertisers alike."
    Salut Prieteni!


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    HDTV firm eyes space on Measat-3



    US-based Voom HD Networks is said to be exploring the possibility of using C-band capacity on Measat Global Bhd’s Measat-3 (M3) satellite to beam its high-definition television (HDTV) content to the Asia-Pacific.
    Voom is said to be the global leader in HDTV and largest distributor of such programming in the United States. It operates 15 HDTV channels in such genre as lifestyle and extreme sports.
    Voom’s high-definition channels and programming are also available in several European countries. Its expansion into the Asia-Pacific was in progress, sources said, which explained its need for satellite space to distribute content in the region.
    It is unclear how much space the US company needs but a deal is expected to be structured via a third party based in Singapore and it could be announced as early as next week.
    Voom is expected to be among the first of a number of HDTV content providers to use M3 for programme distribution in the Asia-Pacific.
    The M3 satellite footprint covers Africa and Eastern Europe in the West, through to Japan and Australia in the East, reaching out to more than 70% of the world’s population in over 100 countries.
    According to the US company's website, “all of Voom is aired commercial free in breathtaking 1080i (the best broadcast quality high-definition available and five times the resolution of standard resolution TV) and 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, providing an unparallel experience.”
    Measat is working with several partners and is looking to lead Asia in the provision of HDTV platform solution with the advent of MPEG-4 compression and DVD S2 technology, as HDTV is the next big thing in the broadcasting industry.
    Measat currently has three birds in the sky, with M3 being the largest of the three, with 48 transponders. Of these, half are C-band and the others Ku-band.
    Measat’s fourth satellite, to be called M1R, is being built in the United States by Orbital Sciences. It is expected to be launched from Baikonour, Kazakhstan by the fourth quarter 2008.
    The M1R would have 12 each of Ku and C-band transponders and is likely to cost half the US$230mil spent on M3. The M1R would be co-located at 91.5E along with M3 providing additional capacity for broadcasters to distribute their HD and SD content and it would also be a back up for M3.
    The new venture with Voom would give Measat additional revenue in the longer term but it is too early to say how much it will contribute financially.
    Certainly, inking of the deal will pave the way for more HDTV content to be aired over a wider area, made possible via M3.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Belgium allowed to apply must carry in Brussels

    The Belgian government is allowed to apply must carry rules to secure carriage of Flemish TV channels on the cable networks in Brussels, according to the Solicitor General of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. His statement was made in a case between the Belgian government and cable operators UPC, Coditel, Brutele and Wolu TV.
    Such rules secure the right of people to access programming and information in their own language, but should not be used to discrimate foreign broadcasters. Among the Dutch language channels concerned are TV Brussel and VTM.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Polsat goes for channel licences

    The Polish national commercial station Polsat has confirmed it applied to the country’s National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) earlier this month for a licence for a new info channel. At the same time, it lodged requests for licences for HD channels Polsat HD and Polsat Sport HD. The new info will be known as Polsat 24 and operate separately to TV Biznes, a business channel that Polsat acquired earlier this year. The latter has just secured carriage on UPC, Poland’s largest MSO.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    WDR launches on-demand portal

    Germany’s largest regional public broadcaster WDR has launched its own on-demand (VOD) portal - or Mediathek - for catch-up viewing. The service will not only offer all regional video newscasts but also include audio from its various regional and local radio stations in the state of Nord Rhine-Westphalia. People will be able to comment on the video and audio clips and also allowed to forward them to family and friends.
    Salut Prieteni!


 

 

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