Satellite news 12.10.04

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    Satellite news 12.10.04

    Satellite news 12.10.04



    The BBC is in discussions with Boeing to start
    providing airline passengers with live in-flight
    television. The US aircraft maker plans to start
    offering live TV next spring through its Connexion by
    Boeing system which entered service with the German
    flag carrier Lufthansa in May and has also been
    selected by seven other airlines. Passengers will be
    able to choose from four live channels supplied by
    different broadcasters, by connecting their laptops to
    an on-board internet service. As well as the BBC,
    Boeing is also thought to have approached the US cable
    television network CNN. One of the BBC programmes
    which could be screened is the News 24 channel. The
    Connexion service costs $29.95 for unlimited access on
    long-haul flights of more than six hours. There is
    also a pay-by-the-minute tariff.

    Flextech, the programming arm of cable group Telewest,
    is to launch a new channel specialising in reality and
    entertainment TV. The group, which runs the UKTV
    network in partnership with BBC Worldwide, is aiming
    to launch Living TV 2 by the end of the year in a bid
    to turn Living into the UK's "sixth" main TV channel.
    The channel, already home to controversial shows such
    as Extreme Makeover, said it intends to use the
    channel to broadcast the latest reality shows and to
    beef up coverage of its monthly TV events such as Most
    Haunted Live.

    BBC World has beat S*y News, EuroNews and Rai Med to
    win Europe's Best News Channel at the Hot Bird awards,
    which celebrate multichannel broadcasting in Europe.
    The BBC was described as "the most complete and
    exhaustive source of TV news in the year 2004" by an
    independent panel of media journalists. Several
    hundred television channels were eligible to enter the
    Hot Bird TV Awards, organised by the satellite
    operator Eutelsat, which took place at a ceremony in
    Venice, Italy. BBC World was also named Best News
    Channel at the Hot Bird TV awards in 1998 and in 2002,
    specifically in recognition of its coverage of the
    attacks on the US on September 11 2001. No other
    channel has received the award three times.

    Hopes of a merger between broadcasters Channel 4 and
    Five have been boosted after the owners of Channel
    Five said they were prepared to accept a minority
    share of a combined group, The Times newspaper has
    reported. "We are prepared to go to a minority
    position in a combined company. The idea of 4 and Five
    was not that we would take over Channel 4. Both
    channels need to be bigger," Gerhard Zeiler, CEO of
    European TV broadcaster RTL, which jointly owns Five
    with UK-based United Business Media, was quoted as
    saying in the October 5 edition of the newspaper. "I
    think we will know by the end of the year whether this
    deal can be done. It will only be done if both sides
    are willing to say yes," Zeiler was quoted as saying.
    The Times said Zeiler and the bosses of publicly owned
    Channel 4 met for the first time last month.

    BBC has agreed a new five-year deal with the Celtic
    Unions (Irish Rugby Football Union, Scottish Rugby
    Union and Welsh Rugby Union), giving BBC exclusive
    rights to show their Autumn Internationals on network
    television from 2005-2009 inclusive. The deal
    includes: all home rugby Internationals for Wales,
    Scotland and Ireland; all matches against Regional
    sides during the Autumn International period (or Six
    Nations 'A' team Internationals); live Celtic Cup
    rights for BBC Scotland and highlights rights for BBC
    Northern Ireland (BBC Wales already have a separate
    contract for the Celtic League games), with the Cup
    Final to be shown on network television in
    Grandstand*. Coupled with the Six Nations, BBC now has
    all international rugby hosted in the UK until the end
    of the decade, with the exception of the England
    Autumn tests to which BBC currently has highlights

    ITV is in talks about the sale of its digital
    channels, Plus and Men & Motors, as part of its
    strategy to sell off its non-core assets to create a
    more streamlined ITV. ITV holds a 50.5% stake in the
    channels, which it co-owns with BS*yB as part of
    Granada S*y Broadcasting. According to industry
    insiders, ITV is hoping to sell its stake to S*y,
    which will enable the satellite broadcaster to
    increase its dominance in the men's market against
    other digital channels including Flextech's Bravo.
    Another option being mooted is a management buyout, if
    staff could raise enough from a private investment
    company. Men & Motors launched in 1997 as part of a
    suite of joint ventures between Granada and BS*yB. It
    has now been disbanded with its responsibility
    absorbed into the main ITV Sales division.

    As part of a strategy to create a homogenised network
    of international lifestyle channels, the Discovery
    Home & Leisure is set for a name change and a
    redefinition of its demographic focus towards the end
    of 2005. The channel will be rebranded Discovery Real
    Time to bring it in line with its sister networks,
    currently rolling out worldwide. Real Time will be
    aimed at men age 25-45, featuring practical
    programming for men, centring on men's channel
    regulars like motors, workshop activities, gadgets,
    fitness and grooming. The channel is one of three
    lifestyle channels currently being rolled out in
    markets from India to Europe, besides Discovery Travel
    & Living and Discovery Home & Health.

    The Irish language TV station TG4 is preparing to
    broadcast officially from Northern Ireland, industry
    sources have told The Belfast Telegraph. The channel,
    known as Teilifis na Gaeilige, is thought to be
    involved in preparatory work on the transmitter on
    Divis Mountain. The plan to broadcast TG4 north of the
    border has its roots in the Good Friday Agreement,
    which called on the British Government to work with
    the broadcasting authorities to explore "the scope for
    achieving more widespread availability of Teilifis na
    Gaeilige in Northern Ireland". Much of the land area
    of the province already receives the channel as a
    result of so-called overspill from southern
    transmitters, but the most populous areas around
    Belfast do not. The final go-ahead for the plans is
    subject to approval from the EU and the holders to the
    rights to some of the programmes broadcast on TG4.

    E U R O P E

    SBS president and CEO Markus Tellenbach on October 4
    outlined major new channel expansion plans and said
    the terrestrial broadcast group is on the lookout for
    acquisition and consolidation opportunities. SBS,
    which operates 10 analogue terrestrial channels in
    Central and Eastern Europe across a footprint of 140
    million homes, said it plans to launch themed digital
    channels in its key markets. Tellenbach said the
    group, which spans 14 countries, also is exploring
    opportunities to grow horizontally through possible
    partnerships with free television partners.

    GlobeCast has announced a long-term agreement with
    Prime TV to deliver 24-hour Pakistani family channel
    PTV Prime to subscribers in the UK, Ireland and
    Europe. The deal sees GlobeCast providing an
    end-to-end distribution service for the subscription
    channel which will be available on GlobeCast's
    direct-to-home platforms via Eurobird and Hot Bird. In
    the UK and Ireland, PTV Prime will reach 7.5 million
    people on S*y Digital. PTV Prime was the first 24-hour
    Pakistani channel to launch in Europe and has
    exclusive rights to broadcast state-owned Pakistan
    Television (PTV) content outside Asia. Offering a mix
    of family programming in English and Urdu, it features
    programmes created specifically for European-based
    Pakistanis, Urdu and Punjabi families as well as PTV
    content. PTV Prime also airs live news bulletins nine
    times daily from the PTV News Network in Asia. To
    provide the feeds for the European news and
    programming content, GlobeCast downlinks PTV News and
    Pakistan TV from AsiaSat 3S in Singapore and backhauls
    it over its global fibre network to London via
    America. GlobeCast also provides an end-to-end managed
    satellite distribution service which includes an
    uplink from Brookmans Park to Eurobird and Hot Bird,
    enabling the channel to reach a potential 100 million
    viewers across the UK and Europe.


    Bulgarians who connect to cable television networks
    without a subscription could face imprisonment of up
    to five years, according to local press reports.
    Pirating the networks was penalized by fresh
    amendments to the Penal Code, according to Magdalena
    Georgieva, consultant at the national cable television
    association "TV Club 2000". At the beginning of
    October, operators in most of Bulgaria introduced
    higher prices for their services. Capital Sofia saw an
    increase of about 28% in monthly subscription prices,
    which jumped from ?7 to ?9. Sofia's leading cable TV
    providers have said the move was prompted partly by
    boosted fees to the Bulgarian Telecommunications
    Company (BTC). The telecom, on the contrary, said that
    it hasn't charged the operators any different since


    BBC Worldwide has signed a carriage deal with Danish
    cable network TDC Kabel TV for its BBC Food network,
    expanding the channel's reach by 650,000 subscriber
    households. Miriam Igelsų Hvidt, the program director
    at TDC, noted, "We have added BBC Food following its
    huge popularity when it was trialled on our Wish
    Channel. BBC Food is the only channel in Denmark fully
    devoted to food and cooking, which is a very popular
    nowadays. With many programs on BBC Food now subtitled
    in Danish, the channel is even more attractive to our
    customers." BBC Food will broadcast on TDC daily,
    sharing with the newly launched TV2 Charlie channel on
    TDC's Middle Package.


    Canal Plus Group posted half-year revenues on October
    1 of $906 million, slightly down from $919 million in
    2003, while profits increased to $23.5 million from
    $19.8 million the year before. For the first time
    since 2000, Canal Plus saw a rise in subscriptions, to
    4.88 million compared with 4.86 million in the first
    half of 2003. Canal's exceptional income came in at
    $3.7 million, a $32 million hike from the first half
    of 2003 when the group posted an exceptional expense
    of $28.5 million. The pay-TV group also said that
    operating expenses had fallen in the first half of
    2004 vs. the first half of last year, dropping from
    $720.5 million to $709 million. On the downside, the
    Vivendi Universal subsidiary said distribution fees
    had risen from $139 million to $195 million.

    Canal Plus is ready to pull out all the stops to
    obtain the maximum amount of football TV rights. Canal
    Plus group chairman Bertrand Meheut told reporters on
    October 7 that it had a lot of financial room to
    manoeuvre in next month's auctions for the broadcast
    rights to matches in France. The board of France's
    Professional Football League will soon set the terms
    for its call for bids for three seasons starting with
    2005-06. The auction is expected to take place in
    November, with the results made public by
    mid-December. The most hotly-contested rights will be
    live transmission of the top Ligue 1 matches and
    pay-per-view broadcasting, which will be battled over
    by Canal Plus and the TPS satellite network - owned 66
    per cent by TF1 and 34 per cent by M6. Canal Plus
    currently pays ?310 million per season for rights to
    the first and third choice matches, pay-per-view and
    the 'Jour de ****' programme, while TPS pays ?70
    million for the second match and pay-per-view.

    Leading commercial TV network TF1 has cited a
    technicality to contest a decision by French broadcast
    regulator the Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel to
    issue digital terrestrial television broadcast
    licenses to six channels owned by rival commercial
    broadcasters Canal Plus and Lagardere. Acting on a
    complaint filed by TF1, a French public prosecutor has
    appealed to the Conseil d'Etat, the country's highest
    administrative authority, to challenge the CSA's
    decision, taken in June 2003, according to French
    business dailies La Tribune and Les Echos. The
    prosecutor has upheld TF1's claim that the channels --
    Sport Plus, iTelevision, MCM, Canal J, Cine Cinemas
    and Planete -- are jointly owned by Canal Plus' parent
    company Vivendi Universal and the Lagardere Group.


    Аs of 1 November, National Geographic Channel
    will broadcast in German 24 hours a day, an
    informative and entertaining program mix featuring
    science and technology, investigation, wildlife,
    history and adventure travel. Renowned researchers,
    explorers, scientists, conservationists, photographers
    and filmmakers will provide unique access to,
    expeditions, cultures, wildlife, science, natural
    phenomena and much more. National Geographic Channel
    will initially be received in Germany via Kabel
    Deutschland's "Kabel Digital Home" service. National
    Geographic Channels International (NGCI) will also
    offer the program to other cable network providers in
    Germany, Austria and Switzerland, in order to ensure
    the widest possible coverage. Worldwide, NGCI
    programmes have so far been received by 170 million
    households in 148 countries and in 27 languages.

    ProSiebenSat1 Produktion and SES ASTRA on October 14
    will, for the very first time, simultaneously
    broadcast a high-resolution HDTV (High Definition
    Television) signal in parallel with the traditional
    digital standard-resolution via Astra 19.2 degrees
    East. The ProSieben/BBC co-production "Pride - The Law
    of the Savannah" (a wildlife program about the
    adventures of a young lion) will be available to
    viewers equipped with appropriate receivers both via
    conventional standard-definition (SD) reception and,
    exclusively via ASTRA, in the new, crystal-clear HDTV
    standard. With the significantly enhanced picture
    quality provided by HDTV, "Pride" can be viewed with
    much greater, true-to-life detail. The visual
    experience will be completed by Dolby Digital 5.1
    sound, providing viewers for the first time ever with
    true cinema quality in the living room. Technically
    speaking, the broadcast will be simulcast in parallel
    to the regular SD signal, the film being played out in
    HDCAM SR (1080i/50 Hz) and delivered to an MPEG-2 HD
    encoder with a data rate of some 1.4 gigabits/s. The
    HD broadcast of Pride will be available via ASTRA
    Transponder No. 103 (12460 Mhz, H-polarisation, SR
    27.500, FEC 3/4.). An HD promo trailor of Pride will
    be available as of October 12. The ASTRA HDTV
    promotion channel is receivable via ASTRA transponder
    Nbr. 102, vertical polarisation, 12,4441 MHz, 27.5
    Msymbols/s, FEC 3/4 using MPEG-2 [email protected], 1080i, bitrate
    19 Mb/s.

    On December 6, TV viewers in the Rhine-Main region
    around Frankfurt will receive only digital TV signals
    from the terrestrial transmitters. The area is
    becoming the fourth region in Germany to switch its
    regular analog television signals to a purely digital
    format. Testing of the system has already began and
    the federal government has made it a priority to
    upgrade all TV transmission to digital signals by
    2010. Viewers will need a digital decoder box, which
    retails for between ?60 and ?90. Meanwhile, in Berlin
    which switched over between 2002 and 2003, the
    Association for Entertainment and Communications
    Electronics says the DVB-T has caught on in the
    nation's capital with nearly 260,000 decoder boxes
    purchased since the transformation. The association
    estimates 1.1 million of the devices will be in homes
    by year's end.


    Hungarian commercial television network Viasat3 may
    have to restructure its ownership and programming if
    the National Television and Radio Board (ORTT) finds
    that it reaches more than 50% of Hungary's population,
    according to a report by Radio Netherlands. Viasat3
    currently operates as a regional channel, being
    available terrestrially in Budapest, and via cable
    networks in the rest of the country. However, the
    expansion of cable networks means that the station may
    now be reaching more than 50% of the population, which
    under Hungarian media law means it will be
    re-classified as a national broadcaster. At least 26%
    of a national broadcaster must be owned by Hungarian
    individuals or legal entities. Currently, 95% of
    Viasat3 is owned by Sweden's MTG Broadcasting, part of
    the Modern Times Group. The media law also states that
    no company can hold a controlling share, publisher's
    or founder's rights in a nationwide daily newspaper
    and a nationwide broadcaster at the same time. The
    Hungarian edition of the free daily Metro is published
    by MTG Metro Gratis, also owned by the Modern Times
    Group. If declared a national station, Viasat3 will
    also be required to air at least 20 minutes of news
    programming at peak time. The ORTT will announce its
    findings by December 1.


    Conax, a leading supplier of conditional access
    technology for digital TV, signed up its first
    customer of the Conax CAS7 system, launched at IBC
    2004. Icelandic Broadcasting Corporation will use the
    Conax CAS7 system for its Digital Terrestrial
    operation (DTT), starting this November. Conax CAS7
    includes new exciting features such as use of mobile
    phone to order digital TV content and enhanced copy
    protection by extending the broadcast security level
    to the Personal Video Recorder (PVR). Icelandic
    Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) is the TV and Radio
    division of Northern Lights Communication, the largest
    privately operated media company and the most dynamic
    company in the field of entertainment in Iceland. IBC
    has ordered a complete Conax CAS7 system for
    conversion of their analogue subscribers to digital,
    enabling vast expansion of IBC's offering to their
    subscribers. Conax CAS7 also gives Icelandic
    Broadcasting Corporation the possibility to make
    ordering and payment of content very convenient.


    Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has announced
    that Italy will float at least 20 per cent of state
    broadcaster RAI by next March, The government paved
    the way for the RAI sell-off in a media law approved
    by parliament in April. Under the terms of the law,
    no-one will be able to take more than a one per cent
    stake in the company, which is Italy's largest media
    group. RAI said in a statement it closed the first six
    months of the year with a net profit of ?82 million,
    up 80 per cent compared with the first half of 2003.
    RAI runs three terrestrial TV channels which compete
    head-to-head with three channels owned by Mediaset,
    controlled by Berlusconi and his family. Analysts have
    said the partial privatization of RAI would ease
    concerns over a potential conflict between
    Berlusconi's political power and family business

    Three of RaiSat's channels are set to launch BBC
    branded blocks some time next year featuring drama,
    cooking and children's shows. RaiSat Premium will
    showcase popular recent drama productions from the BBC
    in a daily two-hour slot from Monday to Thursday.
    RaiSat Gambero Rosso will broadcast a selection of
    cookery programs and the children's channel RaiSat
    Ragazzi will air a BBC branded slot with children's
    output. BBC branded blocks currently air on networks
    throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, as BBC Food, BBC
    Life (lifestyle), BBC Wild (natural history), BBC
    Exclusive (documentary), BBC Select (drama), BBC
    Playtime (children) and BBC Science.

    Italian Communication Authority President Enzo Cheli
    said on October 4 that an antitrust investigation had
    been opened into the dominant positions held by state
    broadcaster RAI and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's
    Mediaset in the national advertising market. In July,
    Cheli's office said that in light of the apparent
    duopoly of the Italian television and radio
    marketplace and the allocation of advertising
    resources, they would be providing an advisory to the
    Italian parliament. If the investigation reveals that
    RAI and Mediaset have breached the antitrust limit of
    having a maximum 30% share of the advertising market,
    the Communication Authority could fine both companies
    2%-5% of their revenue. The investigation, which
    opened last month, is expected to last four months.


    Russia's leading commercial television network, NTV,
    announced 5 it will switch to round-the-clock
    broadcasting on October 12 as part of a fall makeover
    in the ratings hunt behind market leading pubcaster
    First Channel. The station plans to run a mixture of
    quality western dramas -- such as "Emergency Room" --
    Hollywood movies, sports and other entertainment shows
    aimed at an adult, night-time audience, said Maria
    Bezborodova, assistant to NTV head Vladimir

    Warner Bros. International Television Distribution
    (WBITD) has signed an exclusive multi-year free TV
    deal with TV Channel Russia, formerly RTR, that
    includes films, series, TV movies and animation,
    including the new hit sitcom Joey and the
    Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
    Also included in the deal are the new dramas Veronica
    Mars and Eyes, plus the feature films Troy, The Last
    Samurai and Ocean's 12, among others.


    The Modern Times Group's newest channel, Viasat
    History, will be available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark
    and Finland, beginning in November, to subscribers of
    Viasat DTH's Gold and Silver packages. The latest
    rollout follows the launch in May into eight Central
    and Eastern European markets via third party cable
    networks. The channel, which features factual fare as
    well as period dramas and mini-series based on
    historical events, currently has more than 800,000
    subscribers. Alongside a broad range of cultural,
    political, social, scientific, sporting and
    entertainment history programmes and documentaries,
    Viasat History programming includes period dramas and
    miniseries based on historical events.

    Regards Satdude.