News Bytes. . .
- Media Most boss Vladimir Gusinski was granted bail by Madrid authorities ahead of Christmas, and on December 26 his Media Most company won a minor victory in Moscow when a court ruled that fraud charges brought against him earlier in the year were illegal. Gusinski had been arrested in Spain (he has a home in Cadiz) on an international extradition warrant. However, a planned agreement between Gazprom-Media, Media Most and Deutsche Bank to sell a stake in Russia’s NTV television company to a new, unnamed western investor failed to meet its December 18 deadline, evidently Deutsche Bank saying it was legally “impossible” to give Media Most power of attorney over voting shares in NTV. Consequently Media Most refused to transfer the shares to Deutsche Bank within two working days, as stipulated in the original agreement.
- According to a local report, the Gujarat (provincial Indian) government’s plan to equip the country’s fishing boats with WorldSpace receivers is proving unsuccessful. Some 100 sets were donated by the Gujarat Maritime Board to various fishing co-operatives to popularise the sets, but there have been few takers of the 1,500 sets purchased by the government and offered to fishermen at half price. One reported problem is that to get good reception the antennas need to be stable, a near impossibility without gyroscopic positioning. The supplied metal antennas also rust quickly.
- Japan’s Posts and Telecommunica-tions Ministry has awarded licenses to 18 firms for digital DBS transmissions, which are expected to start later this year. Some 41 companies applied for licences, and among the 18 companies were subsidiaries of major Japanese broadcasters such as Fuji Television Network and existing DTH broadcaster Sky Perfect. Other successful winners were Hollywood Movies Inc, which is 24 per cent owned by trading company Itochu Corp, and CS Now Corp, in which entertainment software and game machine maker Pacific Century Cyber Works Japan has an 80 per cent stake.
- Spain’s Hispasat says it expects to see operating revenues rise during 2001 by 29 per cent to Pts18.6 billion (E111m), a 60 per cent rise on its 2000 performance.
The year 2000’s net revenues for the company were E86.6m, which were up 9.1 per cent on 1999’s position. Hispasat has benefited from the February 2000 launch of Hispasat 1C. Hispasat 1D, a 28 transponder craft, has been ordered from Alcatel, with ILS responsible for the launch, and is slated to be in orbit during 2002 and is targeted for 30 degrees West. Alcatel and ILS were also responsible for 1C. Last week Hispasat announced the ground control segment contract, worth E3.5m, had been awarded to Indra Espacio.
The company, in an end-of-year statement, says its 2001 goals include a “clear focus” on the Latin American market, with what it described as “consolidation of the Brasilian market at 61 degrees West.”
- Star TV has confirmed its two new Asian channels, which launch in the Sky Digital package on January 14, will broadcast free-to-air for a short period. But after that period, subscriptions to Star Plus and Star News will cost a somewhat high GBP16 (E25.27) per month. Star News will broadcast live from India 24 hours a day in both English and Hindi, while Star Plus promises a mixture of comedy, drama, soaps, films and lifestyle shows.
- A Korean Digital Broadcasting (KDB) led consortium has been awarded a licence to begin commercial satellite broadcasting from October this year. The consortium is composed of Korea Telecom, the major broadcasting companies, news organisations, telecommunications firms and other major companies. KDB was said to have achieved the highest marks in terms of its business plan.
The KDB consortium has 300 billion won (E247.22m) in capital and consists of 160 firms including Korea Telecom (18 per cent share), KBS (10 per cent), MBC (6 per cent), SBS (3.2 per cent), Iljin (6 per cent) and Denver-based Echostar (2 per cent).