- VTV4, the channel for the Vietnamese community in Europe, has started to sell subscriptions for its satellite delivered service. The channel is part of the German FSP multiplex on Telecom 2D (8 degrees West). Currently, VTV4 is available on two channels: one is encrypted in Conax, the other is still free-to-air, however the unencrypted signal will be closed down in the next few days. A one-year-subscription costs E191 in the first year and E168 each year thereafter. Subscriptions as well as Conax CAM modules for Common Interface set-top-boxes can be ordered through the customer services hotline.
- BSkyB has commissioned Avaya to design and install an ‘advanced communications solution’ for its customer service operation in Livingston and Dunfermline. The deal is part of BSkyB’s GBP50 million upgrade program for the facilities. Avaya, whose European headquarters are in Waterloo, Belgium, is supplying its Elite call centre package enabling intelligent call routing and voice response and its CentreVu Explorer package that will enable staff to refer to customers’ previous call details and requests. BSkyB typically receives 135,000 calls per day covering installation, PPV bookings, billing and sales.
- In a second deal BSkyB has appointed Digital Island as a service provider for global content distribution. Digital Island’s streaming network will help handle high volumes of traffic to the Sky.Com website during periods of peak demand such as a breaking news story or the Saturday afternoon football results. BSkyB has plans to increase the use of the Internet through the offer of video-on-demand and live video streaming, which will be supported by Digital Island. Its footprint system optimises the routing and delivery of the content by finding the shortest possible distance to the user’s connection.
- Pace Micro Technology has made changes to its board and executive team, to support a reorganisation first announced at the company’s interim results on January 8, 2001. Among others, Tim Fern, currently director of engineering, is appointed as chief technology officer. Also, Andy Trott, currently director of technology and strategic development, will become the divisional CEO of a newly formed division for home networking and internet appliance technologies.
- XM-I satellite radio’s first craft, dubbed ‘Roll’, had its launch aborted on the night of January 8. Sea Launch was the carrier and the last-moment cancellation is likely to cost Boeing some considerable millions of dollars. Reportedly, the event was aborted some 25 seconds ahead of lift-off, but by then the first-stage engine had commenced its firing sequence. Consequently, the Zenit launch rocket has to undergo a complete inspection and refurbishment. This will delay the launch of XM 1 (and XM-2, ‘Rock’) by some seven weeks.
- Power company Energis will become the fourth t-commerce player on Sky Digital boxes this spring when it launches BrightBlue. Using Digital Broadcasting Company’s ‘u>direct’ spare capacity, Energis Interactive say they will offer interactive advertising a t-commerce alongside Sky’s Open service.
- Ted Turner is part of a $320m consortium seeking to invest in Vladimir Gusinsky’s Media Most/NTV empire. But a local Russian commentator has described the bid as farcical, stating NTV is a private company, which Turner said he plans to buy with his “pocket money”. The report asked where in the world would a businessman go to the head of state to sanction the acquisition of a private company, or more specifically, to obtain a guarantee that the authorities won’t meddle in that company’s editorial policy. The report appeared on the Russia Today website.
- Back in Atlanta the CNN fall-out continues. Another casualty is ‘Ted’, the acronym for Turner Environment Division which has funded programming like The Adventures of Captain Planet, an animated series featuring a tree-hugging superhero and environmental series People Count, which was frequently hosted by Jane Fonda.
- Box-makers Scientific Atlanta reported second-quarter (ending December 29) sales were up 69 per cent ($258.7m) to GBP631.4m during the quarter, against the same period a year ago. Net earnings for the quarter were $70.8m, or $0.42 a share.