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By | December 13, 2000

      • A group of local investors is leading a consortium putting $30 million (E34.23 m) into a new 10,000sq metre studio facility at Dubai’s newly-established Media City. Certain key contracts have already been signed ahead of a formal announcement that will be made on January 20.
      • After Canal+ shareholders gave the go-ahead to the planned merger with Seagram and Vivendi last Friday, shares in the resulting company, Vivendi Universal, were issued on the Paris stock exchange on Monday (December 11). Simultaneously, Canal+ and Seagram shares were suspended from trading on London’s FTSE indices, whilst Vivendi shares now come under the new Vivendi Universal name, and remain as the French constituent on FTSE world indices.
      • Local press reports suggest the BBC is considering launching a pay-TV sports channel, possibly in partnership with UK cable operator NTL. This rumour has reared its head many times before and each time cynics have asked what sport would the ‘beeb’ show, now it has lost rights to many mainstream sports such as football.
      • Middle East platform Showtime will switch off its PAS-4 transmissions on December 15. Viewers are being reminded to realign dishes to NileSat.
      • Several German shareholders have filed a suit against the German media company EM.TV & Merchandising AG before the federal court in Munich, alleging it repeatedly concealed the true state of the company, the German Association for the Protection of Shareholders said on December 8.
      • Australia’s Telstra Corporation and Hong Kong-based AsiaSat have agreed a four transponder lease on AsiaSat 3S’s steerable beam. The high power steerable beam will be fixed over Australia to support new higher power broadband satellite services.
      • BSkyB CEO Tony Ball sold some GBP6 million (E9.97m) worth of share options on December 6 (and finance director Martin Stewart about GBP2.6m) creating some concern amongst investors. Ball, who receives a GBP700,000 salary and another GBP500,000 or so bonus from BSkyB, still holds some 2.1 million options, most of which cannot be exercised for another year. Ball is some 18 months into a 3-year contract with Sky.
      • Extreme Sports Channel has gained carriage on Russia’s Kosmos-TV MMDS system, from December 15. The channel is part of a new digital platform for the greater Moscow area. Kosmos-TV offers its MMDS system throughout the greater Moscow area.
      • LEO constellation Iridium has agreed a $72m (E82.15m) contract with the US Department of Defence that will keep the 66 satellite system alive for at least another two years – but other would-be buyers are none to happy with the deal. Along with the deal the US military confirmed the contract would mean a minimum of 20,000 handsets and unlimited use of the system.
      • TV1000 Baltic, the only premium movie channel in the Baltic states operated by Viacom, launched digital transmission for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The channel can be ordered for a monthly fee in households that have cable TV or by viewers to the Viasat satellite TV package.
      • Travel Channel, which recently cut its transmissions (see Interspace 707) on Sky’s digital platform to just two hours a day, has written to viewers apologising for its actions. CEO Richard Wolfe added, “Sky has declined to make any payment to us in respect of Travel Channel. That means that while Travel Channel has to incur costs such as satellite charges in order to make the channel available, it gets no subscription income passed through to defray these costs.”
      • December 1 saw the debut of Japan’s digital-HDTV by satellite system. High-definition satellite digital broadcasting is beamed from 10 channels – three from public broadcaster Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), five free commercial channels and two pay channels. There is some local scepticism that sufficient affordable hardware is in the shops to receive the new signals. Industry forecasts expect 10m households to buy the necessary hardware – digital tuners or TV sets with built-in tuners – within the first three years.
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