- Arianespace has delayed the launch of Flight 140, Eutelsat’s ‘Eurobird’ craft destined for 28.5 degrees East. Eurobird is delayed until the evening of March 8 “in order to conduct some verification tests on the launch vehicle”. Eurobird will be co-located at Astra’s second major orbital slot at 28.2 degrees East. Astra and Eutelsat reached an agreement to share the position in June 1999, but on another front it seems another similar dispute has still to be completely resolved. Eutelsat and Europe*Star have reached a partial non-interference agreement over the 48/47.5 degrees East slots. “We continue to maintain that Europe*Star has lost the majority of its rights at 47.5 degrees East. A final agreement on co-ordination remains to be concluded,” said Eutelsat in a statement. Europe*Star’s CEO Alain Roger, told Interspace that the two parties had three years to resolve issues that remain between them. “In 2004 it is clear that we want to use as much of our slot as possible, and the same with Eutelsat. The pragmatic way is for both of us to find the best partnership from this slot.”
- German music broadcaster Viva aims to continue with its ambitious expansion into other European markets. According to chairman Dieter Gorny, after its recent acquisistion in Eastern Europe it was now time to think about other countries, in particular France and the UK. However, he outlined that the move probably won’t be done in the shape of acquiring channels, but by forming partnerships. Gorny said that, in the long-term, Viva also aims for an expansion into the United States of America and other continents. “In five years I want to be present in the USA or Asia,” he stated. In its most recent move, Viva has taken over Hungarian music channel Z+. The service, which is the domestic audience market leader among music channels, was formerly owned 40 per cent by Turner Broadcasting System International and 60 per cent by HBO. Z+ is available within the PowerVU- encrypted HBO multiplex on Amos (4 degrees West).
- PanAmSat announced it has formed a new joint venture company specifically to tap into the Mexican video, data and Internet market. PanAmSat de Mexico has linked with an affiliate company of Grupo Pegaso, owned by telecoms and media entrepreneur Alejandro Burillo Azcarraga. PanAmSat holds 49 per cent and CorporativoW.com SA de CA owns 51 per cent of the new enterprise.
- The BBC and Flextech/Telewest are widely reported to be preparing to seek a stock market float of their joint venture UKTV bouquet of DTH and cable channels. Reportedly the BBC is seeking to see around GBP200 million (E317m) from its share of a planned 40 per cent IPO. UKTV runs the ‘UK’ range of channels (including UK Gold and UK Play) and the BBC stake is held through BBC Worldwide.
- In an aim to meet the demand of home cinema enthusiasts and movie lovers, German pay-TV broadcaster Premiere World will launch on April 1 a new pay-per-view movie service: CineDom Deluxe will screen blockbusters in 16:9 widescreen format both in the original, mostly English, and the dubbed German version. The audio will be available in the enhanced surround system Dolby Digital 5.1.
- Online Classics, which currently operates a web-based music service, is seeking to add its channel to the Sky Digital bouquet. The new channel, which according to CEO Chris Hunt “will have a new name” will be on air June 1. Hunt says it is “placing itself on both sides of [these] converging technologies.” The channel raised GBP10 million (E15.86m) on London’s Alternative Investment Market in December 1999, and has more than GBP6m financing still in place. Originally, the concept was to tap into the expected online demand for broadband content, which Hunt described as “a standing up disaster”, and has not materialised. The TV channel will be a premium subscription service at about GBP4.99 a month. The current Online Classics web-based service will also be shortly going to a pay model.