Satellite news 15.08.05


Entertainment channel ABC1 to launch on Sky

Disney-owned comedy channel ABC1 is to become available on Sky Digital shortly following its successful debut on Freeview. The channel, which broadcasts from 6am-6pm each day, has already started test transmission on Sky Digital ahead of the launch. These can be watched at 10.862GHz/H (SR 22000, FEC 5/6) under the label "9010" and appear to be only viewable by subscribers to Sky's Family Package.

Sky buys extra satellite capacity for HD channels

Sky has announced a deal with SES Astra to use three extra satellite transponders at 28.2° East. The extra capacity will be used to launch Sky's new High Definition TV service. Richard Freudenstein, Sky’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “The launch of HD is a significant development in broadcasting, offering a step change in quality that will strengthen Sky’s appeal. Sky has enjoyed a long-running and co-operative relationship with Astra. We look forward to extending this relationship into the HD arena as a result of this agreement."

Nat Geo planning to launch HD TV channel

National Geographic is reported to have said that is "almost certain" to launch a HDTV channel when Sky's new HDTV service launches. "We want to be part and parcel of it and are almost certain we will be part of Sky's line-up," said George Jeffrey, managing director of National Geographic Europe. "We are determined to become the national home and vanguard for high-definition for documentaries."

New gay channel available from September

A new gay entertainment channel called Faze TV will launch on Sky Digital in September and looks likely to be included in the Sky Family Package. According to various reports, it is currently in talks with Sky about being offered in the Family Pack rather than being a standalone premium channel as was widely expected. Faze TV's schedule of programmes will include films, sport, comedy, music and features about the UK's gay scene.

Plug pulled on Exchange & Mart TV

The interactive classifieds TV channel Exchange & Mart TV has been removed from the Sky channel line-up after ceasing its broadcasts. Viewers had noticed that the station had substantially cut its programming output in recent weeks in the run-up to the shut-down.

Satellite gremlin causes news feed chaos

A satellite malfunction last Wednesday caused a service blackout for several news wire services transmitting from the UK. A Eutelsat satellite rotated in space, meaning that satellite signals transmitted by its users were not hitting dishes correctly. Subscribers in Europe and Asia who receive the Associated Press news wire by satellite were not able to access the service from 2pm. Services of the Press Association, which uses the same satellite, were also affected. However, both news organisations said most subscribers were able to log onto Internet backup services instead.

New Indian religious channel starts on Sky

The first Indian religious channel to broadcast in the UK has launched this week. Called Aastha TV, it's on Sky Digital channel 828 and is initially available on a free-to-air basis. The station focuses on Indian sciences including yoga, astrology, crystal therapy and aroma therapy. Its schedule of programmes are broadcast in Hindi, Gujarati and English.

ChoicesUK TV joins shopping channels line-up

Sky Digital's roster of shopping channels is to be further extended this week with the launch of a furrther channel dedicated to entertainment products such as DVDs, games and music. ChoicesUK TV is due to launch at noon on August 15 on channel 697 and will include programmes fronted by presenters Paul Ross, Rusty Lee and Anoushka Williams.

Channel Five launches new interactive channel

Channel Five is dipping its toes into multi-channel TV for the first time by giving its daytime quiz show Brainteaser the interactive treatment and launching a channel of its own called YooPlay TV on Sky Digital. It will feature programming between 1pm and 1am and provide interactive games round the clock. Five is teaming up with production outfit YooMedia to launch the station.

ITV backs down in encryption row with Sky

ITV has withdrawn its complaint to media regulator Ofcom about the charges it pays Sky for ensuring satellite viewers receiving the correct ITV1 region. The terrestrial broadcaster had claimed that Sky's proposed charges were "unfair, unreasonable and unduly discriminatory and therefore in breach of Sky's obligations under EU and UK law" when it originally made the complaint late last year. However, it has now withdrawn the complaint after talks on a new contract started with Sky. An ITV spokesperson said: "Negotiations have re-opened with Sky in relation to regionalisation services for ITV1 and as a result ITV has requested that Ofcom suspends investigation of its current complaint pending the outcome of these negotiations. ITV will not hesitate to re-submit the complaint if it judges that Sky's proposed charges for regionalisation services continue to be unfair, unreasonable and discriminatory."

BBC sells programmes to Iraq's TV channel

BBC Worldwide has announced that it has sealed its first deal in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Under a one-year agreement, BBC Worldwide will provide news, current affairs and history programming to the Iraqi commercial broadcaster Al Hurra. No financial details were disclosed, but the BBC is providing 45 hours of programming including the documentaries Ghengis Khan, Auschwitz, Islamic History of Europe and Panorama, This World and Correspondent.

This week's digital TV news in brief...

Sky One has bought the rights to show a new documentary about legendary basketball squad, The Harlem Globetrotters... New disaster drama Lost gave Channel 4 its best ever audience for a US series debut by attracting 6.1m viewers and a 26.8% share... Danish public broadcaster TV2 is set to launch its fourth channel this autumn called TV2 Film which will show movies 24 hours a day... Cartoon Network's new cartoon The Life & Times of Juniper Lee from the award-winning writer of Batman and Superman comics will make its global debut in the UK on August 20... Vodafone has struck a deal with Sky Sports to show live coverage of the Gillette Soccer Saturday programme on customers’ 3G mobile phones... Shares in TiVo fell 6% in the US last week after DirecTV announced it would stop marketing TiVo products this year in favour of its own DVR technology... Controversial Arabic news station al-Jazeera is "in talks" to sign up Sir David Frost, according to The Guardian.

Regards Satdude.