Satellite news 25.10.04

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    Satellite news 25.10.04

    Satellite news 25.10.04



    Channel 4 is favourite to retain the broadcast rights
    to England's home international cricket Test matches
    following the personal intervention of new chief
    executive Andy Duncan and the effective withdrawal of
    the BBC from the race. The broadcaster has bid an
    estimated 45 million for the three-year contract,
    although that figure is poised to rise with the
    England Cricket Board hoping to drive up the price
    following a successful summer for the Test side.
    Initial bids for the contract were due in last week
    and sources close to the talks believe Channel 4 and
    BS*yB are favourites to renew their shared deal, which
    ends next year. Under the present contract Channel 4
    shows the majority of Test matches, while the pay-TV
    service shows home one-day internationals, with
    highlights on the terrestrial channel. Channel 4
    currently pays the ECB 19 million a year, with S*y
    contributing about 21 million. In all, the ECB makes
    about 50 million a year from TV rights and hopes to
    raise that to 60 million for the next contract, which
    runs from 2006 to 2008.

    Northern & Shell owner Richard Desmond is calling his
    new TV venture the Express Shopping Channel, hoping
    readers of the newspaper will be tempted to buy
    clothes, home ware and DIY goods. The Express
    proprietor launches his first foray into the
    competitive world of home shopping on October 20 as a
    joint venture between Northern & Shell and mail order
    shopping business the N Brown Group. Desmond's empire
    also includes OK!, New and Star magazines as well as
    adult channels including the Fantasy Channel. The
    explosion in multichannel television has led to a rash
    of shopping channels, but QVC remains the most
    profitable by far. Desmond said he had invested "a
    couple of million" in the joint venture, which is
    expected to break even within two years. Northern &
    Shell will provide all the studio space and
    transmission for the channel, which will include six
    hours of live broadcasting a day, producing it from
    newly refurbished studios at the company's
    headquarters in London's Docklands.

    ITV News Channel has been pulled off Freeview outside
    London for essential engineering work, loosing an
    estimated 4 million TV homes. Viewers with Freeview
    will get the ITV News Channel back in some regions
    next month, but the network will not be available
    nationally via digital terrestrial TV again until the
    beginning of next year, when the engineering work is
    completed. ITV News Channel is still available to
    around 10 million digital satellite and cable
    subscribers, but Freeview box owners outside London
    switching to channel 41, where the ITV news service is
    normally located, will find only an onscreen message
    saying that the network is temporarily unavailable.
    The engineering work that has taken ITV News Channel
    off air is linked to a reorganisation of the
    broadcaster's capacity on Freeview to make room for
    the launch of ITV3. ITV3 is due to launch on Freeview
    channel 34 on November 1 and promos for the digital
    channel are due to begin running October 25.

    According to the Guardian, Rupert Gavin, the former
    chief executive of BBC Worldwide, has set up a company
    to bid for any of the BBC's commercial assets that may
    be put up for sale. The venture, Kingdom Media, will
    reportedly look towards a wholesale acquisition of any
    of the BBC's commercial assets, or a joint venture
    with the organization. There has been much speculation
    about the future of BBC Worldwide since
    director-general Mark Thompson announced a wide-scale
    review earlier this year.

    Racing UK has announced it has reached halfway in its
    attempts to attract a target of 20,000 subscribers to
    the new channel. The dedicated racing channel, owned
    by 30 of Britain's courses, launched its subscription
    service on October 1. It now reports the number of
    subscribers to the channel has exceeded the 10,000
    mark. Executive chairman Simon Bazalgette said: "This
    is a remarkable figure to have attained within a week
    of the launch and exceeds our expectations."We have
    set ourselves a target of 20,000 subscribers within
    the next 12 to 18 months, and to have reached the
    halfway stage in week one is very encouraging.

    ITV is set to roll out its interactive brand, ITVi, as
    a 24/7 service this week. ITVi originally launched
    interactive TV services on =ITV1 and ITV2 in May 2003.
    This week will see the introduction of a range of 24/7
    interactive initiatives. The content includes
    co-branded Littlewoods Game On, ITVi's which has been
    re-branded and re-launched to coincide with the launch
    of ITVi 24/7and the Bringin' Home The Bacon campaign.
    GTV, ITVi's games service developed in conjunction
    with Playjam, will also gain more exposure.

    BS*yB's low-key launch of digital satellite platform
    Freesat took place on October 21, offering viewers 150
    free-to-air digital television and radio channels for
    a one-off cost of 150. Concerned that the free
    service might cannibalize its pay TV offering, BS*yB
    executives have kept relatively silent about the
    Freesat launch. BS*yB has not announced what channels
    will be offered on Freesat, but it will not feature
    S*y's most popular brands, such as S*y One, Paramount
    Comedy, E4, Gold or Living because the channels
    operate on a subscription only basis. According to
    trade sources, the new system will be launched using
    refurbished S*y Digital boxes and modified smart cards
    that will give viewers access to encrypted channels
    for up to two years. BS*yB is hoping to subsequently
    convert as many viewers as possible to pay-TV. The
    move comes after the apparent breakdown of talks
    between BS*yB and the BBC about collaborating on a
    Freesat service.

    The BBC has responded to criticism that it spends 85
    million a year on acquired Hollywood movies at the
    expense of domestic production, by considering the
    launch of a new channel dedicated to UK films.
    Director general Mark Thompson told an all-party media
    select committee that the BBC could explore the option
    with another broadcaster to determine whether there is
    enough room for such a channel in the UK. At present,
    the BBC spends 10 million on British film product.
    Thompson said that he would review the 85 million
    American budget but added that TV audiences may want
    the same quality of films as those who went to the

    The BBC said on October 20 that it has snatched
    exclusive U.K. TV rights to U.S. comedies "Arrested
    Development" and "Family Guy" from Twentieth Century
    Fox Television Distribution. Seasons 1 and 2 of
    "Family Guy" previously aired on Channel 4. The BBC
    also has bought the exclusive rights to the upcoming
    Fox comedy "American Dad."



    RTL Televizija, RTL Group's TV channel in Croatia,
    achieved the best audience results since it started
    broadcasting at the end of April 2004 with a prime
    time (19:00 - 23:00 hrs) market share of 49.2 per cent
    and a total daytime market share of 39.5 per cent on
    15 October 2004. Big Brother which is currently
    broadcast on RTL Televizija was the most watched
    programme on 15 October with an audience share of 56.4
    per cent*. RTL Televizija, RTL Group's Croatian TV
    channel based in Zagreb, started broadcasting on 30
    April. It achieved the leading market position in its
    first full month of operations. In June 2004, RTL
    Group increased its shareholding in RTL Televizija to
    58 %.


    France's highest administrative appeal court ordered
    on October 20 the cancellation of six digital
    terrestrial television broadcasting licenses
    controlled by French television group Canal Plus and
    media group Lagardere. Analysts said the Conseil
    d'Etat decision could further delay France's
    long-awaited entry into the digital terrestrial TV
    era, scheduled to begin in March with 15 free-access
    channels and in September with pay-TV digital
    broadcasting. The ruling follows a complaint by rival
    commercial broadcaster TF1 that Canal Plus violated a
    legal limit of five digital broadcasting licenses and
    effectively held seven licenses because it jointly
    owned the i-MCM and Canal J channels with the
    Lagardere group. France's audiovisual watchdog, the
    Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel, said on October 21
    that it will try to ensure the country launches its
    digital terrestrial television broadcasting program in
    March as scheduled. "We will do our best to maintain
    the schedule we have announced, in the general
    interest, and keeping in mind that France is two or
    three years behind some of its European neighbors in
    entering the digital terrestrial television era," CSA
    head Dominique Baudis said at a news conference.

    Satellite services company GlobeCast is set to
    broadcast Pink TV in France via its satellite
    television distribution platform on Hot Bird, in
    partnership with leading French television bouquet
    TPS. Pink TV, a gay-themed television channel, will
    gain access to a potential audience of 1.3 million TPS
    subscribers. GlobeCast - a subsidiary of France
    Telecom - manages proprietary Direct-to-Home satellite
    television platforms in Europe, America, Australia,
    Africa and Asia. In addition to distributing numerous
    channels for TPS in France, GlobeCast's DTH capacity
    on Hot Bird brings over 100 channels to a potential 98
    million cable and DTH satellite television homes in
    Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. GlobeCast is
    providing Pink TV with an end-to-end satellite
    delivery solution, including fibre connectivity from
    the channel's headquarters in Lorient, France, to the
    GlobeCast/TPS platform multiplex south of Paris.
    GlobeCast manages encryption, uplink and space
    capacity for the platform on the Hot Bird satellite at
    13E. Pink TV is included in the TPS (Electronic
    Program Guide) EPG and is available through
    subscription. Pink TV is a general programming channel
    mainly targeted to the gay and lesbian community, as
    well as to a wider audience. Pink TV's program grid
    includes series, films, investigative reports, music
    and personal ads.


    Germany's new music TV monopoly, the twin Viacom
    subsidiaries MTV Networks and VIVA, announced on
    October 22 that the profiles of their channels will be
    altered in 2005 to appeal to different segments of the
    German audience. The new joint strategy aims to enable
    the companies to complement each other instead of
    competing for the same viewer. MTV will reduce the
    amount of music it plays and will concentrate on more
    show formats to appeal to a target audience of 16-25
    year-old males. Meanwhile, VIVA will develop its own
    productions and focus on both home-grown and
    international acts to cover the female 10-29 year-old
    audience. Meanwhile, MTV parent Viacom, which in
    summer initially acquired 76% in Viva from major
    stakeholders, has been reported to now hold 95% in the
    music web group. Viacom is now testing a squeeze-out
    for the remaining shares.

    The History Channel will launch a 24-hour
    German-language service on November 15 as part of a
    new digital cable package on Kabel Deutschland. A
    statement by A&E Television Networks added that the
    company would sign a licensing agreement with public
    broadcaster ZDF to acquire programming from ZDF's huge
    library to broadcast on the new channel. The two
    companies have worked together since 1995, producing
    "a number of acclaimed contemporary history
    documentaries and mini-series," said the AETN

    Leading free-to-air broadcaster ProSiebenSAT1 has
    scaled back its expectations for growth of the TV
    advertising market this year, its chairman Guillaume
    de Posch said in a newspaper interview on October 18.
    ProSiebenSAT1 was currently planning growth for the TV
    advertising market this year of zero to two per cent,
    de Posch told the Financial Times Deutschland.
    Previously, the broadcaster had been counting on
    growth of about two per cent in 2004.

    A storm was brewing on October 18 in Germany over the
    latest TV license-fee increase, which for the first
    time ever is likely to come out lower than recommended
    by an independent commission. In January, the
    commission recommended a raise of ?1.09 per month to
    ?17.24 per month per household for the next four
    years. But last week it was the politicians' turn, and
    the state premiers proposed only an ?0.88 raise. The
    fee, which makes up the lion's share of budgets for
    pubcasters ARD, ZDF and regional public channels, must
    now be ratified by the state parliaments, generally a
    formality. ARD and ZDF receive a combined $8 billion
    from license fees, with ARD and its 17 affiliates
    getting the lion's share. They also take in an
    additional $350 million a year in advertising.

    Eutelsat's German programming distribution arm
    visAvision has agreed a strategic co-operation for the
    distribution of German pay-per-view content for cable
    networks. Under the terms of the deal, visAvision will
    market the German Kabelvision services of cable
    operator PrimaCom's Decimus subsidiary. In return,
    PrimaCom will market visAvision's 22 foreign language
    channels to its customers. Decimus will also install
    and operate an uplink to Eutelsat's Telecom 2D
    satellite in Leipzig. The deal marks a significant
    advancement in visAvision's presence in German cable
    markets. It is now able to market 12 German programmes
    and pay-per-view services. As a result of the deal,
    Decimus, a 100% subsidiary of PrimaCom has terminated
    with immediate effect the Cooperation Agreement with
    Spacecom., Ramat Gan, Israel concerning the use of the
    Satellite Transmisison Capacities (Amos 1 and Amos 2)
    by mutual consent.


    Nagravision on October 19 announced a strategic
    agreement with the Mediaset Group, Italy's most
    important privately-owned communications and
    broadcasting group. Under the terms of the agreement,
    Nagravision, which is part of the Kudelski Group, will
    secure pay-per-view (PPV) offerings over Mediaset's
    digital terrestrial platform, the first commercial
    digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) service in Italy
    scheduled to launch in 2005. Nagravision's innovative
    content security solution is based on smart cards
    which can be recharged during a limited time period.
    Italian customers will be able to buy them in stores
    to watch the live broadcasting of football matches of
    the Italian Premiere League. Mediaset has secured
    digital terrestrial premium football TV rights for the
    next three seasons from leading Serie A clubs Inter,
    Juventus, Milan, Roma, Sampdoria, Atalanta, Livorno
    and Messina. To offer Mediaset maximum commercial
    flexibility, the smart cards provided by Nagravision
    will be event-based and rechargeable. Nagravision will
    download its conditional access technology on to the
    DTT-enabled set-top boxes already deployed and work
    with all digital set-top box manufacturers in the
    Italian retail market to enable the timely launch of
    this service.

    At a press conference on October 20 to launch RAI's
    new digital channel RAI Utile, the Italian
    communications minister, Maurizio Gasparri, told
    reporters that the government will go ahead with plans
    to privatize the country's state broadcaster. The
    Italian Treasury Department is ready to launch a
    search for investment banks and advisors to oversee
    privatization, explained Gasparri. He expects the
    privatization process to start next March or April.


    Melita Cable will be launching Malta's first digital
    cable television early next year, according to
    Chairman Joe Gasan. Among other features, the new
    service will include more than 15 new channels and
    improved sound and picture quality. Football fans will
    have six live-feeds from the Italian Serie A and the
    British Premier league for which, Gasan explained,
    Melita Cable has contracted exclusive rights. Asked
    about the price and the exact date when digital TV
    will be launched, Gasan said that the company had
    still not fixed the prices as it was waiting for the
    results of a survey it was conducting among a sample
    of Maltese families. Those currently subscribing to
    the family pack will not see a drastic increase,
    despite being offered extra 15 channels. Regarding the
    official launch date, he said that given the
    complexity of the project, both from a technical and
    financial aspect, the company felt that it could not
    set a fixed date as yet. He added, however, that it
    will certainly be in the first quarter of 2005. Asked
    by The Malta Independent whether the system will be
    interactive - by which viewers can participate in
    polls or interactive marketing schemes - Gasan said
    that that this technology will not be introduced
    straightaway but will be included at later date.


    The Russian government is not planning to privatize
    mass media companies of strategic importance,
    including the All-Russian State Television and Radio
    Company (VGTRK), the state-owned Russian Television
    and Radio Broadcasting Network (RTRS) and the Mosfilm
    studios, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zhukov told a
    government meeting on October 21. "We propose that a
    number of mass media companies of strategic importance
    should not be privatized, including VGTRK and RTRS, as
    well as archives, libraries, museums, theatres and
    philharmonics that are of federal importance," Zhukov
    said. He also said that the government plans to keep
    18 per cent of state companies currently operating in
    the power, communications and industrial sectors as
    federal property.


    Proceeds from advertising at ?528 million in the first
    nine months of the current year for a 26% growth rate
    with respect to the same period last year. This is one
    of the results realized by Publiespana, a Telecinco
    concessionary, communicated by the Mediaset Group. The
    growth in advertising proceeds in the 2004 Q3 was
    equal to 30.5% with respect to the 2003 Q3. The
    television network also obtained an audience share of
    22.1% over the 24 hour period, more than its direct
    competitors Antena (20.5%) and Tve-1 (21.8%).

    The Government is considering opening up the
    commercial TV market to two new entrants. The new TV
    licences, with a nation wide coverage, are likely to
    be awarded over the coming months. Spanish media group
    Prisa, owner of pay-TV channel Canal Plus, is expected
    to be one of the licensees, with Canal Plus set to
    become a free-to-air channel. For the second licence,
    there are several candidates: Media group Recoletos,
    owner of financial newspaper Expansion; Unedisa, owner
    of El Mundo; Vocento, shareholder in Tele 5; Group
    Zeta or Godo. This licence might be awarded to one
    single company or more likely to a consortium. The
    Government is said to have plans to privatise the
    second TVE channel La 2 to make this second new
    station possible. The final decision is expected in
    February next year, when a group of TV experts,
    appointed by the Government, are due to release their
    report about a new public TV model.

    Regards Satdude.