- Russia’s NTV is now wholly under new management, headed by Boris Jordan. He claims that some $750 million is unaccountably “missing” from the station’s total debt burden of $1.6 billion. Jordan says NTV could never have made a profit under its former management. He added that any discussions involving Ted Turner’s involvement were taking place with NTV’s major shareholders at Gazprom.
- Transmission and network operator Crown Castle International saw its first quarter 2001 revenues grow by nearly $90 million (E101.13m) to $213.0 million (E239.3m) from $124.2 million (E139.5m) for the first quarter of 2000. Tower cash flow for the first quarter increased to $67.4m, up from $48.5 million in Q1 2000 whilst first quarter EBITDA increased to $70.4m from $51.1m. Crown Castle said it added 1,881 new tenants in the first quarter of 2001 compared to 1,027 new tenants added for the same period last year. The company said it expects “second quarter 2001 site rental and broadcast transmission revenue to be between $136m and $140m.” It added that it expects second quarter network services revenue to be between $65m and $80m, while it sees second quarter EBITDA of between $72m and $80m.
- France Télécom will move its Télécom 2B satellite from its current position at 11 degrees West to 3 degrees East. The satellite, which is already on the move to its new home, will be used for occasional telecommunications traffic. Télécom 2B replaces Télécom 2C, which used to be located at the 3 degrees East slot but was moved to France Télécom’s 5 degrees West slot half a year ago.
- Spanish satellite operator Hispasat has reached an agreement with banks Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), BNP Paribas, Barclays Bank and La Caixa that will allow it to get a long-term loan of E210 million to finance its new expansion plans in Europe and America. The loan will be given in June and will be used to manufacture and launch its fourth unit Hispasat 1 D as well as its American satellite Amazonas in 2003.
- Game Show Network, billed as the UK’s first 24-hour videogaming network, and already available across Europe, went live May 8 (channel 223) on BSkyB’s digital service. The service, which already claims 300,000 “southern Europe viewers” on Eutelsat is being uplinked by Kingston Media Stream to Astra 2B.
- Widespread reports suggest the BBC will be cleared of anti-competitive claims made by some UK based channels, especially those operating in the kids genre. An enquiry was set up in February by the UK government, designed to look into complaints that the BBC was using licence fees to subsidise its commercial ventures.
- EuroNews, ITN’s pan-European news channel, says it extended its European distribution to more than five million digital satellite homes in the UK and Ireland, when it launched on the new Eurobird satellite on May 8. EuroNews will be broadcast free-to-air in the UK on digital satellite via the Eutelsat’s satellite Eurobird, which is now operating at 28.5 degrees East, alongside the three Astra satellites. This enables EuroNews to directly target more than fine million DTH satellite homes in the UK and Ireland. British and Irish homes with a digital receiver will be able to watch EuroNews in six languages (English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish). Already available in 200,000 cable homes, 4,669,000 digital satellite homes in the UK will know have access to EuroNews on channel 528 by way of the EPG.
- The multilingual travel channel WWW Travel will terminate its transmission on Hot Bird 5 (13 degrees East), transponder 91 (12.539GHz H, SR 27.500, FEC 3/4), on 10 May. A spokesman of the Malta-based broadcaster told Interspace that the channel will move to Telstar 12 (15 degrees West) on the same day. The exact frequency is not known yet, but will be in the 12GHz range with horizontal polarisation. Interspace believes that WWW Travel aims to focus more closely on the cable market in future and abandon DTH coverage for the time being. Almost no DTH viewers will be reached via the new satellite.
- Channel East, a UK-based service targeting middle class Asian viewers, recently laid off most of its staff.