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Thread: News 14.11.2007

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    Default News 14.11.2007

    Bebo launches video initiative

    Social networking site Bebo has joined the trend of including video for its community of users. Bebo has launched an initiative known as Open Media that will allow media companies free and open access to its network. With around 40 million users Bebo is still a distant third behind Facebook and My Space in the social networking arena. Its demographic is considerably younger than its rivals with the majority of users aged between 13 and 24.
    Launch partners, who can only be described as the usual suspects, include UK’s Channel 4, ITN, BSkyB and the BBC, the US networks CBS, MTV and ESPN. Online networks Crackle and Ustream have also put themselves forward. Bebo will also include content from the music recommendation site Last FM.
    Broadcasters are likely to use the site to promote new programmes in order to drive the reluctant younger audience back to linear television.
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    History Channel HD to launch in Holland

    The History Channel HD will launch in Holland in January of next year. The channel will be available in the HD bouquet of the three cable companies owned by the Zesko Holding, Casema, Multikabel and @Home (the former Essent Kabelcom). Although no formal announcements have been made, it seems likely that History Channel HD will also be made available on the UPC network.
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    KPN launches ‘day and date’ with Warner

    Dutch incumbent telecom operator KPN today announced it has launched ‘day and date’ video-on-demand with selected Warner Bros titles on its IPTV service KPN Interactieve TV.
    KPN will offer the on-demand service to all its IPTV customers and will include recent movies such as Ocean’s 13, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Unaccompanied Minors. The on-demand price is €4.99 per movie.
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    Entavio enters German cable market

    Entavio is to extend its reach to Germany’s cable networks following an agreement between the SES-Astra pay-TV platform and the cable facilities company Kabel Dienstleistungs GmbH (KDL). The service will be offered on small to medium sized networks belonging to the Fachverband Rundfunkempfangs- und Kabelanlagen (FRK). It will be rolled out between now and the autumn of 2008.
    The cable operators will make Entavio enabled cable tuners available to their customers and feed the encrypted satellite signals directly onto their networks. Entavio will not market or sell these cable tuners, but only approve them. Consumers will have to buy the equipment on a retail basis. The new service will compete with the existing Kabelkiosk service from Eutelsat and Visavision, which offers a similar service to small and medium sized operators.
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    German RTL Group to switch to 16:9

    The German RTL Group, now called Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, will switch its broadcast format to 16:9 widescreen on most of its channels including RTL, VOX and n-tv, as well as the digital thematic channels RTL Crime, Passion and RTL Living. The switchover will be completed by the autumn of 2008.
    RTL already broadcasts a number of imported series and movies in the widescreen format including House, Monk and CSI: Miami as well as most of its own drama productions on the main RTL channel. “We will now start to switch selected programming on Vox and then we will start with n-tv and all our news and current affairs programming,” said Thomas Harscheidt, MD of RTL’s facilities company CBC.
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    Channel 4 outsources to Red Bee

    There are new doubts about the stability of UK broadcaster Channel 4 after it announced its intention to outsource play-out and other production services to Red Bee Media.
    Under the proposed scheme, personnel currently working for C4's Channel Operations and 124 Facilities departments will transfer to Red Bee, although the deal is still subject to contract completion and agreement of staff terms.
    The move involves over 100 people working in the broadcaster's engineering, transmission, post-production, library and on-air graphics divisions. Red Bee was chosen as the new outside contractor after C4 issued a competitive tender. If the deal goes through C4 staff in the affected departments will become Red Bee employees and transfer to its headquarters at White City in west London, although those in post-production and graphics will remain at the broadcaster's premises in Victoria.
    Outsourcing is increasingly common in modern publisher-broadcasting and C4 expects to make annual savings of between 10 to 15 percent by transferring its broadcast and post-production operations to Red Bee. The broadcaster's group finance director, Anne Bulford, said: "Making our unique public service content available across new digital platforms is placing considerable financial and technological demands on the channel. Outsourcing these functions will allow us to tap into the more considerable and flexible resources of a big, specialist provider and help us stay competitive in the face of rapid technological change."

    Red Bee's chief executive, Pam Masters, said, "Having been part of the original C4 team and instrumental in setting it up 25 years ago winning this contract is very close to my heart. We have developed a flexible solution for C4 that will enable them to take advantage of the latest technology and innovation in media management and delivery, while enabling them to save money to put back into programming."
    C4 recently celebrated its 25th anniversary but many critics considered that screening old programmes only showed how far the broadcaster has moved from its once revered position as a provider of intelligent, innovative television. At one time C4 was subsidised but now it has to support itself through advertising and many see this as taking the channel increasingly downmarket. Scandals, notably the Celebrity Big Brother race row in January, have undermined the integrity of C4's programmers and management.
    A spokeswoman for broadcasting trade union BECTU said the move was "disappointing" and a sign of a "severe tightening to the belt" at C4. She said it raised bigger questions about how the broadcaster is funded but added that there was no big objection to Red Bee, which is regarded as a responsible employer.
    The transfer of staff is expected to take place over 12 months, starting from the second quarter of 2008.
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    Rapture’s suit against BSkyB due

    Rapture TV brought an action against BSkyB in September 2006, and has since had success winning legal support for its claim, which also now includes UK regulator Ofcom.
    Bringing a legal action against BSkyB is one major undertaking. Adding Ofcom into the list of defendants might be considered a bold move, but Rapture TV is fast proving itself to be a pernicious thorn in the side of BSkyB.
    Rapture TV as a broadcasting entity is pretty much dead and gone, having been wound up in 2005. David Henry, its former MD, maintains an internet-based music site. Rapture TV started transmission on UK cable in 1997 (when Robert Ditcham, Adam Stanhope and Debbie Mason were running the outfit). Lord Hollick’s United News & Media bought a major slice of the business that year and moved the operation to Norwich, with a staff of 60. Since then it has been a steady stream of negative stories (losses, lay-offs, and numerous closures) over the years.
    In March this year BSkyB removed Rapture from the Sky Digital EPG list. The current legal action centres on Sky and its “Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory” access (FRND). Ofcom is enjoined in the action because, alleges Rapture, Ofcom – amongst other failings – has not discharged its statutory obligations (as stated in the Communications Act 2003). Ofcom has declined to comment. The action is due to be heard by the Competition Commission on December 18-19.
    Rapture’s argument also alleges that BSkyB with the help of Ofcom has been charging EPG fees since 2003 that include bundled costs for Conditional Access, Access Control and Set-Top Box subsidies to FTA broadcasters. Ofcom, Rapture alleges, is involved because it approved the system which means there have been “overcharges this year to FTA broadcasters of about £30m” argues Rapture. Sky’s charges for a EPG listing have long been a sore point for smaller broadcasters, and many broadcasters have had their places terminated by Sky for not paying these costs, said by Rapture in its Court submission to be “excessive”. Rapture is also alleging that Sky has not honoured its Ofcom-required obligation to negotiate meaningfully over access and EPG fees.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Hispasat wants to lead HDTV

    The satellite operator Hispasat is working on a project that it hopes will enable the company to lead the high-definition TV sector in Spain.
    The project is aimed at integrating all of the technologies applied to HDTV. At the moment the Spanish satellite operator only distributes the signal of nationally-produced HD channel Canal AD. This channel transmits in the clear and is produced by Telefónica Servicios Audiovisuales-TSA, Telefónica's division for the production, editing and distribution of television content.
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    Pakistan bans sat-dishes

    Pakistan has already banned certain news channels from its cable systems. Now dishes are banned too.
    Pakistan’s government on November 13 banned the import with immediate effect of satellite dishes, receiving equipment, decoders and other similar satellite reception kit. Pakistan’s ministry of commerce issued an official notification, according to the BBC’s Monitoring Service.
    More than 30 channels were banned on November 3 at the start of the current “emergency” in Pakistan. The only content now generally available comes from Pakistani TV channels that can transmit from within the country, and can thus be monitored closely.
    The Pakistan Broadcasters Association has already submitted a “humble petition” to General Pervez Musharraf to lift the ban. There are also reports that police have visited hotels and private dwellings and confiscating dishes and reception equipment.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Channel 4 starts HD test transmissions

    Channel 4 has started test transmissions for its high definition service on digital satellite.
    Currently alternating between a black screen and a holding page, the channel may be found at 12.188H at a symbol rate of 27.5 with FEC 2/3.
    In September, Channel 4 announced that it plans to launch Channel 4 HD on channel 140 in December. It will offer a high definition simulcast of its main service on satellite.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    CanalSat gives Jetix stay of execution

    Children’s channel Jetix is to remain on the French CanalSat platform until at least March 31, 2008 after the two sides recommenced negotiations on the channel’s continued carriage.
    Jetix CEO Paul Taylor said he was delighted the negotiations had restarted after the latest wave of Mediacabsat research revealed Jetix to be one of the most popular kids channels on the DTH platform. “We’re hopeful that renewed negotiations will allow us to strike a deal with Cana'lSat and look forward to continuing to offer its’ younger subscribers some of their favourite programmes in the future,” he said.
    Jetix was scheduled to leave Cana'lSat on December 14 after the talks broke down in June. Canal later announced plans to launch its own kids channel Canal+ Family.
    Salut Prieteni!


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    Estonia launches first sports channel

    Estonia has launched its first-ever sports channel. Known as Kalev Sport, it is operated by the recently established privately owned media group Kalev and distributed by cable, IPTV and – from later this month – also DTT. Kalev Sport’s output includes Premier League football, WRC, F3 and local events. It also plans to bid for F1 rights, currently held by Viasat’s TV3 and the only major sports event aired on Estonian commercial channels, next year. Kalev Sport successfully outbid three other companies in securing its licence. A tender for two general interest channels held at the same time attracted only one bid for each, and they will both be launched in early 2008.
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    PrimeTel adds Nova channels

    PrimeTel has added four new packages from Nova Cyprus to its IPTV platform. The package adds the premium channel Supersport, as well as Sigma Sports and Motors TV. In total the alliance with Nova adds a total of 11 sports channels to the Primetel platform.
    Primetel subscribers will also be able to enjoy another four movie channels: FilmNet 1, FilmNet 2, FilmNet3 and MGM.
    The Nova Cyprus packages, Sports or Cinema, can be added to Primetel’s 32-channel Value Pack. Alternative subscribers can choose the complete array of channels through the top tier Full Pack.
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    Canal Digital launches digital Kabel TV

    The Danish branch of Canal Digital is launching a digital TV service for housing corporations and SMATV installations. The new service is aimed at about one million households who subscribe to this kind of television reception, which the Danish call ‘antenna societies’. Canal Digital offers a multi-tiered subscription model with a basic bouquet of 12 channels with the possibility to add on a number of a la carte channels, priced each at DKK10 (€1.34) per month.
    “We just want to give people the channels that they want and nothing they are not going to watch, “ said Canal Digital’s Jens B. Arnesen. The new service comes with a free set-top box and internet modem.
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    Fastweb launches Disney VOD

    Fastweb has launched a package of on demand product following an agreement with the Walt Disney Company. Disney Channel On Demand went live on November 5 and is Disney Channel’s first European deal for a VOD service over IPTV.
    Disney Channel On Demand offer will feature a range of popular programmes including Hannah Montana, Quelli dell’intervallo, Kim Possible and American Dragon, and Disney Channel Original Movies including High School Musical 2 in its Dance Along version. There will also be a number of pre-school series including My Friends Tigger and Pooh, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Manny.
    Fastweb has carried Disney Channel since 2004 and already offers a selection of Disney movies, Disney’s Magic English and ESPN Classic.
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