- Dutch public broadcaster NOS and the local Amsterdam channel AT5 agreed with Chello broadband Internet for transmissions in broadband quality. Chello, owned by UPC, is the only one who offers the service, for the moment. Chello has 80,000 subscribers in the Netherlands alone and 90,000 abroad. Competitor Excite@Home, owned by Essent Kabelcom, is also talking with several broadcasters for broadband content.
- MTV Italia has reported a 61 per cent increase in advertising revenues during the first semester of this year, while the number of clients has increased from 210 to 260 in the same period. The music channel, which is a joint-venture between Viacom and local broadcaster Rete A, owned by Alberto Peruzzo, is now aiming to broaden its audience which has been mostly concentrated in Northern Italy. MTV Italia also plans to increase the amount of locally produced programming. According to Antonio Campo Dall’Orto, director general of MTV Italia, locally produced programmes will total 1,500 to 1,600 hours this year, with the goal of surpassing 2,000 hours in 2001.
- In just three weeks, the value of Italian broadband Internet via satellite provider Netsystem.com has increased by L650 billion (E335.70 million). On July 20, Luxembourg- based satellite operator SES announced a capital increase of L50 billion (E25.82m) and bought a 5 per cent stake in Netsystem.com, implicitly recognising that the company is worth in total L1,000 billion (E516.46m). On August 10, Italian software producer NCH (owned by Paolo Ottani) bought a 1 per cent stake in Netsystem.com through a further recapitalisation, paying L16.5 billion (E8.52m), valuing the company at L1,650 billion (E852.15m). From October, Netsystem.com will launch a new broadband service that will be delivered via SES’s AstraNet directly to residential customers in Italy.
- The staff at German news channel n-tv apparently expects the Berlin-based broadcaster to be integrated into the RTL channel family this year. According to n-tv’s programme director Helmut Brandstatter, it is conceivable that its main shareholder, US-based Time Warner/CNN, which owns 49.79 per cent sells some of its shares to RTL Group. However, he stressed that n-tv would preserve its status of a separately branded stand-alone broadcaster, declining speculation that n-tv could be turned into a news provider for other RTL channels, like its competitor N24 which will produce news for Kirch Group’s channel family. Brandstatter said that the growing interest of third-party groups in n-tv “confirms the success of our programmes”.
- Eurosport News, the sports news affiliate of the pan-European sports broadcaster Eurosport which launches on September 1, will not be made available to viewers in Germany. According to the channel, it aims to finance though advertising, sponsoring and the cable fees cable operators pay for the right to include the service on their networks to make it more attractive. However, in Germany the reverse is true due to historic media-political reasons: the channels that want to be distributed on the cable network of the former monopolist Deutsche Telekom have to pay the cable operator for each home they reach. A possible solution to gain access to the important German market would be the distribution on the digital pay-TV platform Premiere World as the Munich-based broadcaster pays a fee to third party channels like 13th Street and Studio Universal.
- The Community Channel, described as “the first-ever dedicated charity TV channel”, starts free-to-air afternoon transmissions on September 18 on Sky Digital (Channel 655, 13:00-16:00) as well as a 24-hour webcast. Each day the service will focus on the work of around nine different charities working in the UK and overseas. UK independent Mentorn Barraclough Carey is responsible for organising programming. Managing director Gerard Melling said in the past few weeks 50 charities had approached the channel to take part in future transmissions. The channel is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Media Trust, a charity that works in partnership with the media. Melling was most recently editor of breakfast station GMTV.