Satellite news 03.10.05


Premier League calls MPs to fight EU plans

The Premier League is calling on MPs to criticise the "unfair" investigation by Brussels into the way it sells TV rights. In the process it has admitted that the Commission wants one broadcaster to buy no more than 50 per cent of the football matches being auctioned. Sky has won exclusive live TV rights to the Premiership ever since the league's launch in 1992, but the Commission has ruled that the sale process is anti-competitive. Richard Scudamore, CEO of the Premier League, has warned MPs that a quota could create a duopoly and depress the value of top-flight TV rights. Scudamore says: "Our fear is that a rule that prevents any broadcaster from buying more than half of the available games would reduce competition - each company would know the biggest bidder was limited to half the market and could, therefore, avoid having to outbid them in an open market. The situation could be even worse if the market condensed into two main bidders: a duopoly that could harm the game and consumers alike."

Phone price hike at TV auction channels

The cost of making a telephone bid for items featured on several digital TV shopping channels has risen sharply this week. Broadcaster has confirmed that, and price-drop tv now charge shoppers Ł1.50 per call, up from Ł1 per call.

Launch date for Sky Three is announced

Sky's soon-to-launch entertainment channel, Sky Three, will debut on Monday October 31 at 5pm. The broadcaster also confirmed that the channel will offer a mixed schedule of programmes from Sky One as well as original lifestyle commissions and travel documentaries from Sky Travel.

Freeview planning to shuffle its channel line-up

A major reshuffle of Freeview's Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) is being planned for October 18 to accomodate new channel launches and re-organise the stations by genre. The radio stations look likely to move to positions 700+, pushing the interactive streams to 300+, while kids channels will move to 70-79 and news channels will be between 80 and 89. The adult channels are tipped to move to 97 and 98, while teletext and other interactive services will occupy 100+.

Sky Gnome price and details are announced

Sky has announced that Sky Gnome, its wireless digital receiver system, that will allow Sky subscribers to listen to radio or TV anywhere around the house, will cost Ł69.99. It will come in a choice of 'Cool Blue' or 'Funky Orange' colours and will be available from mid-October direct from Sky.

Car maker launches its own Sky Digital channel

Car manufacturer Audi has launched its own channel on Sky Digital channel 259 in the former slot of Unlimited TV, which has ceased broadcasting. The Audi Channel broadcasts free-to-air.

Sky One commissions new celebrity series

Sky One has commissioned a five-part series about celebrities who have died from excessive lifestyles. Oxford Scientific Films has been asked by Sky One commissioning editor Emma Read to produce Death By Excess, a five part series of 60 minute episodes. The series is billed as "a forensic journey into the physiological and biochemical changes that take place in human organs when people party to the extreme." The deaths of Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and River Phoenix will be among those featured.

30,000 applicants sign up for BBC's iMP trial

The BBC has received 30,000 applications following its call for volunteers to join the second phase of its iMP (integrated Media Player) trial, which has just started rolling out to volunteers. 5,000 have been chosen to participate in trailing the player, which offers catch up TV and radio through the Internet for seven days after the original broadcast. iMP volunteers have been chosen as a representative sample of the UK. The BBC will be monitoring the volunteers' viewing habits and recording their views on iMP until the end of the year. The purpose of the trial will be to gauge the public interest in iMP as well as to evaluate the public value of such a service, and any potential market impact.

More 4 starts promo trailers on Freeview channel

More 4, the soon-to-launch entertainment channel from Channel Four, has started showing a promotional trailer highlighting forthcoming shows on the station. It can be seen on Freeview channel 35 in Wales and 13 in the rest of the UK. Channel 4 is launching the station on October 10.

Downtown Superstore TV launches on Sky

A new shopping and entertainment channel has joined the Sky Digital line-up on channel 640. Called Downtown Superstore TV, it is a joint venture between Simply Media and Grantham-based superstore Downtown. It claims to be the first shopping channel to broadcast live from inside a store and will offer furniture, homeware, cosmetics, fashion, gardening tools, hardware and sportswear. A statement from the channel added that it would "offer a range of popular programming formats such as reality TV, gaming, chat shows and ‘shop opera’ to make it more than just a shopping medium, but an all-round entertainment channel."

Baby Channel starts Sky test transmissions

The Baby Channel has started test transmissions on Sky Digital ahead of the launch of its station. Tests can be viewed at 11.307GHz/V (SR 27500 and FEC 2/3) under the label of 53310. The channel is set to launch on Monday October 10 with shopping and information programmes.

New look for Sky's interactive support facility

Sky has revamped its interactive customer service area. The new-look section is called 'My Sky' and lets viewers access their Sky statement, read FAQs about common problems, subscribe to the Sky credit card and read about upgrades. "My Sky is a quick and convenient way for our customers to manage their Sky account," said Ian Shepherd, MD of Sky Interactive. "It's an alternative to picking up the telephone and another way for customers to communicate with us."

Digital TV news in brief...

Quiz Call has launched on Sky channel 284... The Audi Channel replaces Unlimited TV on Sky channel 259... Information TV has replaced Sound TV in the Sky Digital line-up on channel 277... The Gospel Channel has launched, as expected, on Sky channel 681... ITV chief executive Charles Allen could net over Ł1.5m after he was handed new share options last week... Jetix UK has launched a free-to-play games service on Telewest's digital TV service which allows kids to watch TV and play games at the same time... Despite some press reports that Telewest is ready to cancel the sale of Flextech, others claim the sale process is ready to move to stage two with shortlisted companies soon to meet with BBC Worldwide which, as joint owner with Flextech of UKTV, will have a say in any sale... Sky Sports has signed a deal to become the new sponsors of the Victory Shield schoolboy international tournament... Spain's Tele 5 is to launch two DTT channels before the end of November. One, Telecinco Sport, will be dedicated to sports and the other, Telecinco Estrellas, will be dedicated to fiction... Spain's government is to impose new limits on the ownership of private TV channels in that country aimed at guaranteeing free competition.

Regards Satdude.