NEWS BYTES

By | August 15, 2001 | Feature

  • CNBC Europe has begun transmissions within the ZDF digital multiplex on Astra 19 degrees East. The business news channel was previously available as part of the Premiere World package in a contract dating back to DF1. Like a number of channels CNBC was subsequently advised it was no longer required. The move will be to CNBC’s long term advantage as the ZDF multiplex holds must carry status on Germany’s cable networks. CNBC remains committed to its analogue feed at 19 degrees East.

  • Telenor Slovakia is to be responsible for the satellite uplink for news channel TA3. The station will be uplinked to Intelsat 707 and onwards to cable networks across Slovakia. TA3 goes live in mid-September.

  • Norwegian operator Telenor has pulled out of its 19 per cent stake in a Laotian satellite venture, L-Star satellite, due to unease over the sluggish far-eastern regional economies. The company’s partner in the 19 per cent shareholding, United Communication Industry (Ucom), which holds the stake through its Asia Broadcasting and Communications Network (ABCN) subsidiary, confirmed that Telenor wanted its focus in Asia to be predominantly wireless businesses, rather than on satellites. The other shareholders in the venture include International Engineering Group with 17 per cent, Telesat of Canada with 10 per cent, US-based Loral and Itochu of Japan with 6 per cent each.

  • Boeing Satellite Systems (BSS) has named Art Rosales as the new vice president of commercial programs and Dr John Konrad as vice president of commercial marketing and sales. Rosales, most recently vice president and general manager for the fixed satellite systems and the broadcast satellite systems (FSS/BSS), will be responsible for overseeing all BSS commercial programs. Formerly director of the Americas region for the fixed services and broadcast services, Dr Konrad will be responsible for leading the marketing and sales teams for commercial business development.

  • Modern Times Group (MTG) has announced that Viasat’s 486,000 digital television households can now access the entire content of Swedish daily morning newspaper, Metro, through their TV sets through a new ‘Metro Digital’ interactive TV service. Metro Digital allows Viasat Digital subscribers to view national and international news, which is combined with local content from the printed newspapers in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo. It includes sports, entertainment, radio and TV listings, editorial columns, special feature reports, employment and finance sections, as well as food, health and travel guide.

  • Erik Volden, MD of Canal Digital, some days ago announced his resignation, after only three months on duty. Volden, who replaced Swedish Per Tengblad in May, explains his decision by “getting an offer I simply could not refuse”: he will become MD of the commodity giant Hakon Group, one of Norway’s biggest businesses, with an annual turnover of over NKr20 billion ( GBP1.5 billion) and a staff of over 15,000. Volden will leave Canal Digital (where Telenor recently bought out its 50/50 partner Canal+) “some time during the autumn”, depending on when a successor is identified
  • Hughes Network Systems has awarded an initial $2 million (E2.24m) contract for Ka-band satellite earth stations program to the earth station communications specialist Andrew Corporation. The stations will be deployed as major communication hubs for its Spaceway programme. Initially, two types of earth stations will be developed and deployed at sites throughout North America in late 2002 to provide the next generation of high-bandwidth services.

  • BT’s Italian joint venture company Albacom has signed an agreement with Italian bank Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) for BT Broadcast Services to provide BT’s IP Satcast satellite services to the bank’s 600 branches across Italy for an undisclosed sum. Under the agreement BT Broadcast Services will offer satellite capacity on Eutelsat’s Hotbird constellation at 13 degrees East for the distribution of high-speed Internet, corporate intranet and video-based applications, including interactive distance learning and videoconferencing. BT will also provide a fully redundant uplink to ensure a ‘secure platform’ for BNL.

  • Israeli satellite network technology firm Gilat Satellite Networks has reported disappointing second quarter results to June 30, with net losses weighing in at $14.7 million, compared with profits of $9.1 million for the second quarter last year. The company blamed its poor performance on ‘impaired investments and losses in associated companies’. Revenues climbed slightly to $118.3 million for the second quarter compared to $108.6 million for the same period last year, but short of the company’s own guidance of $125 million.

  • Sky Digital is launching a new soccer club channel, Chelsea TV, which will broadcast on channel 427 for 4.5 hours per day from August 13, starting at 19:00 and will be available for free for one week, and GBP6 per month thereafter. Much like BSkyB’s other soccer channel joint ventures, such as its MUTV partnership with Manchester United Football Club, the channel will concentrate on behind-the-scenes action and interviews with Chelsea Football Club’s players, fans and management. The channel will also broadcast ‘as live’ coverage of the club’s games from the FA Barclaycard Premiership and Chelsea’s 2001-2002 Uefa Cup campaign.

  • In the second quarter of the year, Spanish digital satellite operator Via Digital, controlled by Telefonica, managed to capture more subscribers than its competitor, Sogecable-owned Canal Satelite Digital (CSD). According to the company, Via Digital gained 36,242 subscribers, while CSD gained only 28,467. As a percentage of all new digital DTH subscribers, Via Digital captured 56 per cent whereas CSD gained 44 per cent.

  • The latest five-year plan from China talks of television reaching 92.5 per cent of the population, up from the current 84.4 per cent. Xinhua news agency reports that there are approximately 80 million television users “which has quickly made us the world leader [in TV]. Research in digital high-definition televisions has achieved important progress, and certain key technologies for high-definition television have been developed.”
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