NEWS BYTES…

By | August 1, 2001 | Feature

  • The Lagardere group is to launch a TV channel branded around its magazine Paris Match before the end of the year. Called Match Télé the station will launch on the Canal Satellite platform (in which Lagardere owns 34 per cent). It will carry 19 hours of programmes a day, including three and a half hours of new programmes. It hopes to show a profit by 2005. Although the channel is based on the concept of the Paris Match magazine, it has been stressed that it will be editorially independent. The regulator, CSA, has forbidden the use of Paris Match logo as this would be a form of advertising. The Lagardere group is also working on channels based on some of its other magazines, including Elle TV.

  • Network Teleport Italia is a new company specialising in satellite and broadband telecommunications. The company is already operational through the Genoa Teleport, and says it offers satellite connectivity services to companies, ISPs and Content providers, as well as TV and radio stations. The next location to join the organisation is expected to be Milan followed by Veneto (Venice).

  • The Walt Disney Company has signed a deal with Fox Family Worldwide owners News Corp and Haim Saban to acquire Fox Family Worldwide for $5.3 billion (E6.1 billion), assuming around $2.3 billion in debt subject to the usual regulatory scrutiny. Under the agreement, Disney will become a 76 per cent shareholder in Fox Kids Europe, the production, distribution and merchandising business Saban, Fox Kids Latin America and the rights to Saban children’s library. The US children’s TV channel Fox Kids Network has been excluded from the negotiating table and retained by News Corp and Saban.

  • CNBC has appointed Pamela Thomas-Graham as its new chief executive, her predecessor Bill Bolster moving over to become chairman and chief executive of CNBC International. CNBC Worldwide, the renamed CNBC2, has meanwhile commenced test transmissions in the United States ahead of its August 1 launch.

  • International Launch Services (ILS) and Inmarsat signed a contract last week for the launch of at least one of Inmarsat’s next-generation satellites, the Inmarsat I-4, during 2003/2004 using an Atlas V rocket. Financial terms were not disclosed. This makes Inmarsat the sixth commercial customer to sign up for the Atlas V, which is scheduled to make its debut launch next year. The contract includes options for additional launches. Inmarsat has ordered three Astrium Eurostar 3000 model satellites for its Inmarsat I-4 series.

  • SES director general Romain Bausch has, as was widely assumed, been formally confirmed as president and CEO of SES Global by the company’s board. He will take office upon completion of SES’s $5 billion (E5.7 billion) acquisition of GE Americom, expected during Q4, 2001. Bausch has previously served as general administrator at the Luxembourg Ministry of Finance, and Luxembourg Government Commissioner to CLT-Ufa, now RTL Group, before being appointed to the SES board.

  • Spanish public broadcaster RTVE has ceased analogue transmissions of its 24 hour news operation Canal 24 Horas on Eutelsat’s Hot Bird 2. The channel has instead opted for digital only transmissions on a pan-European transponder. The decision was taken unexpectedly and affected three million people in Europe that had been receiving its analogue transmissions. RTVE justified the move on the fact that Hot Bird 2 will be able to distribute more RTVE’s signals (up to nine channels), though the digital signal has been on-air for some time. Canal 24 Horas will now be distributed along with TVE Internacional, Radio RNE and RTVE’s teletext service. RTVE will continue to offer its international television channels and domestic radio services free-of-charge to interested parties. In addition, TVE Internacional and RNE will continue its analogue transmissions through Eutelsat’s Hot Bird 1.

  • French channel supplier Multithematiques is expected to close two channels. One, already reported by Interspace, is Wishline, a home-shopping service devoted to luxury goods, upmarket properties and boats. The other is Planete Forum, a discussion channel that focuses on Earth and Natural History topics.

  • NTL Broadcast has confirmed that is providing multiplexing and uplinking service for the interactive facilities for Teletext Holidays, which commenced operations as long ago as June. Teletext provides regularly updated flight information and last-minute holiday deals from tour operators on the Sky Digital platform. NTL Broadcast, under the 10-year contract, has been hosting the interactive server at its central London ‘node’, and the data has been fed to its Crawley Court teleport facility since the service went live on June 11.

  • In its half-year 2001 financial results statement, Sagem has revealed that it had sold 600,000 digital set-top boxes in the first two quarters of the year. The company reported reduced overall sales of E1,617 million, down 21 per cent on the same period last year, leading to EBITDA losses of E137 million for the six months to June 30. The company, which posted positive EBITDA to E137 million in the first half of last year, says it expects that profits will return with the expected recovery of the telecommunications and mobile phone sectors.

  • The European Commission has given the go-ahead to an interactive television services joint venture dubbed StudioCo between Accenture, formerly Anderson Consulting, and Lagardere. The company is being set up to provide interactive TV consultative and development services, initially in France. The Commission found that concerns that Lagardere’s joint-controlling interest in Canal Satellite raised anti-competitive issues were unfounded as currently both Lagadere and Accenture had only limited activities in the interactive TV sector.

  • Subscriber management firm ConNova is to shed 20 jobs after a business review following the formation of sales and distribution partnerships with Sema Group, Cap Gemini and Soluziona. The Swedish company, which had suffered ‘very negative cash flow’ during the development of the latest incarnation of its BizManager software, identified that significant cost savings could be made by outsourcing its sales and distribution operations to its partner companies.
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