NEWS BYTES

By | September 26, 2001 | Feature

  • The tragic attack on the World Trade Centre towers and the Pentagon became more personal for Boeing employees when it was confirmed that three of their colleagues, all with Boeing’s space and communications businesses, were among the victims travelling on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon. The employees were Boeing satellite operations propulsion engineers Ruben Ornedo and Chandler Keller and their colleague Dong Lee.

  • Parisian ‘Visual wallpaper’ channel Fashion TV has won a contract with the US Department of Defence to broadcast the channel to US Army personnel stationed at bases in South Korea. The signal will be uplinked from the channel’s Paris headquarters to the Asiasat 2 satellite at 100.5 degrees East for downlinking to local cable headends serving 13,000 households on US army bases across South Korea. The channel, which claims to broadcast to 300 million households worldwide, only has a small presence in the United States, with 1.5 million households, and the company is doubtless hoping that the Pentagon approval will provide a greater toehold in what can be a highly lucrative market.

  • TF1 chairman Patrick Le Lay has said that a merger of TPS, in which TF1 has a 25 per cent stake, and Vivendi Universal’s Canal Satellite will go only ahead if financial terms can be agreed. Le Lay told the French press that negotiations had to remain confidential despite the fact that “certain TPS shareholders and its managing director have already talked about the subject.”

  • The first satellite earth station constructed in Cambodia was inaugurated on September 19 in Phnom Penh to promote the development of news and television broadcasting in the country. The station, completed in May this year, will allow the Television Station of Kampuchea (TVK) to expand its transmission power and coverage to all parts of the country, as well as 126 countries in Asia, the Pacific, Europe and Africa. It will transmit for nine hours per day and 17 hours on Saturday and Sunday.

  • According to research firm Dun & Bradstreet Israel (D&B), whilst some 76 per cent of the Israeli population has cable television and 39 per cent have expressed interest in receiving satellite broadcast services from the country’s sole satellite broadcaster, Yes. 11 per cent of those interested in satellite TV said they would replace their cable with satellite services, six per cent said that their decision would be based on price and six per cent would base their decision on the packages offered. Three per cent said they would subscribe to both cable and satellite.

  • Taurus rocket, launched from Vandenberg Air Force base in California and carrying satellites owned by Orbital Imaging and Nasa and the cremated remains of 50 people has failed just 83 seconds into the flight causing its payload to plunge into the Indian Ocean. The rocket briefly veered off course shortly after the first stage separated, and although the rocket’s correction motors put it back on course, too much energy appeared to have been lost. “As a result, Orbital believes the rocket released the satellites at a lower altitude and velocity than intended, and that they did not achieve a stable orbit,” the company said in a statement.

  • Music Choice Europe has said it remains on course for profitability and is well-positioned for a market recovery, despite posting widening losses of GBP5.32 million in the first half of the year compared to losses of GBP2.73 million for the same period last year. Revenues climbed to GBP3.78 million from 2.24 million. Chairman Mike Thomas said Music Choice’s cash resources of GBP34 million strengthen the company’s position.

  • The construction of the Australia’s Woomera launch site should begin before Christmas according to South Australian opposition leader Mike Rann, who said US-based Kistler, which will operate the site, was nearing financial close on aspects of the project and construction work could begin in two months. He said the spaceport could be completed by April next year, with a test launch by the middle of the year, and up to three re-launchable rockets launched within a year. Rann said that the demand for the reusable launch system developed by Kistler to launch communications satellites for mobile phones and other telecommunications markets was ‘huge’.

  • Italian TV network La 7 (ex-TMC) will become an all-news channel modelled on CNN, rather than try to compete with RAI and Mediaset, which dominate the local TV market. The decision was taken at a September 11 board meeting of parent company Telecom Italia, when the new management which took control at the end of July decided to drastically change the network’s business plan. Pirelli and Benetton managers justified their decision by saying that the original project would have provoked losses of E568 million over the next two years, while an all-news channel could potentially prove a winning bet. However, rumours abound of the imminent sale of La 7 and potential buyers are certainly not lacking. The favourite is leading Italian cabler e.Biscom, while others include former La 7 CEO Lorenzo Pellicioli, the De Agostini publishing group, Spain’s Telefonica and the Class publishing group which also runs the financial news channel CFN-CNBC.

  • The first European test transmission of a movie via Internet was successfully concluded on June 6. The event, organised by Italian media company Nexta.com as part of the 58th Venice film festival brought to PC screens of Internet users “L’educazione di Giulio” (The education of Giulio), a 90 minute feature film directed by Claudio Bondi and produced by Veradia Film. The Web distribution of the movie in videostreaming was made possible thanks to the broadband satellite transmission provided by Eutelsat’s multimedia platform OpenSky. The Web distribution was conducted in real time using a compression compatible with the MPEG-4 standard of 352 x 288 pixels on a 1Mbit/s channel. Internet users equipped with a DVB/IP satellite modem board, a satellite dish pointed at 7 degrees East and the Windows Media Player software could watch the movie at a quality similar to VHS.
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