Satellite news 26.09.05


Sky Three to launch on Freview in October

Sky is to launch its first free-to-air entertainment channel on Freeview's digital terrestrial service next month. The Sky Travel channel will be replaced on Freeview by 'Sky Three' and will show programmes already seen on Sky One alongside original travel and lifestyle shows. At the same time, the existing Sky Mix channel will be renamed Sky Two. Early schedule highlights will include the first free-to-view broadcast of the third series of US drama 24. Sky Networks managing director Dawn Airey said the Freeview move would help Sky to "reach an even wider audience". She added: "Sky Three will offer digital terrestrial viewers the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of popular programmes from Sky." Other Sky One shows to transfer to Sky Three will include US crime drama Cold Case and hypnotist Paul McKenna's series I Can Change Your Life. The news came just hours after ITV's new digital channel for men, ITV4, unveiled its programme line-up ahead of its launch on 1 November. Channel 4 made its digital channel E4 available on Freeview in May this year.

Mobile phone TV trial starts this week

A trial service that allows live TV pictures to be watched via mobile phones is set to launch this week. Four hundred O2 subscribers in the Oxford area will be among the first to take part in the six month trial, which is being run by O2, Nokia and the broadcast company Arqiva. Subscribers with Nokia 7710 handsets will be able to choose programmes via on-screen menus, as well as receiving alerts when programmes are about to begin.

New phone rules issued to quiz TV channels

Phone regulator ICSTIS has launches its consultation on the introduction of new rules and a prior permission regime for premium rate quiz TV channels following a jump in the number of quiz channels and an increase in the number of complaints it has received. The new rules mean that those wanting to run premium rate competitions on TV quiz channels will need to come to ICSTIS before running a service and get the regulator’s prior permission. The new rules stress the need for clear pricing, an adequate explanation of how the service will operate and clear terms and conditions, a cost warning after spending Ł20, substantiation of certain aspects of the operation of the service – especially the need for there to be a single correct answer which must be available to ICSTIS to inspect should complaints arise.

New channel ITV4 unveils programme schedule

ITV4, the soon-to-launch male-targeted digital TV channel, will start on November 1 with a slew of US programes, it was announced this week. The new series of Kojak, which airs on USA Network in the US, sees Ving Rhames (of Mission Impossible fame) reprise the role made famous by Telly Savalas. Also exclusive to ITV4 is action drama Wanted, which features an elite team of crime fighters who form an undercover strike force to help track down Los Angeles' most wanted fugitives. ITV4 will also premier Traffic: The Mini Series, based on the Oscar-winning feature film, which offers an inside track on the world of gun, drug and human trafficking in all its forms. Aiming to be 'Britain's biggest and best men's channel,' ITV4 will air daily from 6pm to 6am and will also show Champion's League soccer, live boxing and feature films. It will also air The Late Show With David Letterman.

... and More4 announces its programme line-up

Channel 4 has confirmed details of the launch lineup of its soon-to-launch digital TV channel More4, which debuts on October 10. More4 News will air each weekday at 8pm and will feature the most important news stories of the day plus own breaking news coverage. A short update will go out just before 6pm. Following at 8.30pm will be The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, broadcast on a one day delay. Talk show The Last Word will air on weeknights at 11pm. Entertainment shows will include The Sopranos, which will air weeknights at 11.50pm and ER, which will be on air weekdays at 6pm. The station will also broadcast films each weekday at around 4pm.

Sky boss calls for relaxation of EU regulations

Sky chief executive James Murdoch has followed up on the BBC's call for a regulation-free Internet with a plea to scrap European media regulations in a "bonfire of controls". Murdoch said that pan-European broadcast rules, currently being updated, should be swept away. It comes as Brussels regulators currently investigate Sky's exclusive Premier League football contract, which is up for renewal in 2007. "This is not a plea for freedom without restraint. I take as my starting point the requirement that broadcasters, like anyone else, should be bound by laws on decency, the protection of minors, human dignity and so on," he said at a conference this week. "Beyond that, however, broadcasting should no longer be regarded as a special case. The purpose of broadcasting regulation should be to ensure competition through freedom in pricing, through secure and transferable property rights, and through the removal of genuine barriers to market entry." The comments came after BBC director general Mark Thompson warned European legislators not to extend TV-style regulation to content delivered via new platforms such as the Web.

Telenor announces replacement for THOR II

Norwegian satellite operator Telenor has announced a deal for the delivery of a new satellite. The spacecraft, THOR II-R, will serve as a replacement satellite for THOR II, which will be retired from service in 2008. The new craft will provide Ku-band telecommunications and TV channels from 1° West. The new craft will have 24 transponders with three times more payload power (3.6 kilowatts payload power) compared to THOR II.

Pace issues second profits warning

Set-top box maker Pace Micro Technology has issued its second profit warning within a fortnight, announcing that profits could fall by 25% this year following falling orders for its digital TV receivers. It stated that profits before tax and exceptional items were "unlikely" to exceed the Ł9.1m posted last year. Analysts had been expecting profits of between Ł10m and Ł12m. John Dyson, the chief executive of Pace, declined to name the customers involved but said a combination of changes in the timing and specification of orders, and last-minute alterations to some of the products being manufactured by the company, had forced it to issue a warning.

Digital TV news in brief...

On Sky Digital, Raj TV has started on channel 283... Apna Bazaar has launched on Sky channel 829... Vectone Punjab on Sky channel 814 is now called Vectone Chnl-I... BBC Director General Mark Thompson has demanded an explanation after Sky News rather than BBC News 24 was featured in an episode of Spooks... Sky has apologised to its call-centre workers for an "unfortunate incident" after employees received a note telling them to limit their toilet breaks to eight minutes a day... Mark Wood, Sky's long-serving commercial director, is leaving his post as part of the restructure of Sky's Media Sales division... New religious channel Gospel Channel Europe is due to launch on September 26 on Sky Digital.

Carol Vorderman to host Sudoko TV show

Carol Vorderman is to host a new interactive Sky One primetime show based around the sudoko phenomenon. Two teams will compete to fill in a sudoko board by solving a series of mind-bending games. Each of the team captains will be a celebrity, with Jo Brand reportedly being lined up to take part as a captain. Recording of the series is believed to be starting in November and transmission will go ahead during the winter.

Regards Satdude.