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9D TV launches to German digital homes

By | November 7, 2001

      German digital TV homes will soon be able to take part in market research through their remote control thanks to a new company named 9D TV. Due to launch this week, it intends to offer interested parties the opportunity of having their products and services tested and judged by viewers prior to their appearance on the market.

      Speaking exclusively to Interspace, 9D TV’s managing director Kai Sterzenbach explained by way of example how the company might screen the first episode of a new television series for a TV broadcaster or production company in order to test its popularity among viewers. After the broadcast, an on-screen message would appear asking viewers to rate the series with answers ranging from “very good” to “very bad.”

      Another example of viewer interaction is an intended programme for watch and clock collectors, which will offer viewers the opportunity to obtain further information about the presented products and services via their remote control.

      The free-to-air channel – in whose name the “D” stands for “digital” and the “9” for “9th dimension” – will be carried on Deutsche Telekom’s digital cable platform MediaVision and is expected to be financed through the payments made by companies that make use of its market research platform. Satellite viewers can receive the service, which was previously known by its working title “Der Forschungskanal” (“the research channel”), on Astra 1D (24.2 degrees East) and DFS Kopernikus 1 FM3 (23.5 degrees East. Both satellites will be used to feed cable headends and the d-box’s in-built telephone modem employed to send the information from the viewer to 9D TV.

      Sterzenbach confirmed that the Cologne-based channel, which despite initially being on air between 20.00 CET and midnight will gradually become a 24-hour service, aims to eventually launch on Astra’s main position (19.2 degrees East) to reach DTH homes. The shareholders in the channel are venture capital subsidiaries of Cologne’s local savings bank Stadtparkasse Koln, Techno-Media Kapitalbeteiligungsgesellschaft and KSK Wagniskapital (which jointly hold around 50 percent), the managing director Sterzenbach (10 percent) and several private investors.

      Sitcom continues Global expansion

      Italian thematic satellite channel producer Sitcom has announced that as of next year it will introduce English language audio on its channels.

      Sitcom currently produces the thematic channels Marcopolo (travel), INN (news), Nuvolari (motor-sports), Alice (cooking and lifestyle) and Leonardo (Italian style). It is also currently undertaking a global expansion programme which initially envisages the distribution of its channels on satellite and cable platforms in Europe and subsequently the rest of the world.

      It has already signed an important agreement in the US with Dish Network, which claims more than 6 million subscribers. Under it, the Leonardo channel will be added to Dish Network’s offer from the middle of next year, much to the joy of the more than 22 million Americans of Italian origin.

      Sitcom also recently signed a strategic agreement with Eutelsat that will see it take part in the development and commercialisation of satellite transmissions of Internet videoportals, based on the Open Sky platform.

      In a separate development, Italy’s Tiscali is about to launch a new high-speed Internet via satellite service aimed at consumer and Soho (small office, home office) customers. The venture is the result of an agreement signed in June 2001 with Gilat Network System Ltd., which will see the latter supply Vsat satellite equipment. Prospective customers will be offered a series of value-added services including always-on Internet, a fixed IP address and 100 Mb of web space. Besides Italy, Tiscali also plans to make the service available in Germany by the end of the year.

      A new digital satellite TV channel named Afric Channel and dedicated to the African continent is meanwhile being prepared for launch with the help of the Italian consultancy firm Numidia. The project originates in Abidjan and will be realised with the contribution of Ivory Coast’s national broadcaster, local businessmen and music production companies.

      Afric Channel, which was officially presented at the Sat Expo in Vicenza, will be transmitted in French via Eutelsat’s Hot Bird and mainly aimed at a Francophone audience living in Europe. However, it is also likely to prove attractive to all those interested in the music and culture of the African continent. The schedule will include video clips, as well as programmes dedicated to cooking fashion, sports, tourism, politics and current affairs.

      UK digital awareness still low

      Continental Research (CR) has called for the UK government to do more to boost awareness of digital television amongst consumers.

      In a newly-published study, it states that 40 percent of UK consumers are not aware that the country’s analogue television broadcasts will cease sometime between 2006-2010. According to CR’s director David Chilvers, the example of the cellular phone industry should be taken as a guide. “The mobile market had reached saturation point then pay-as-you- go phones were introduced and the market virtually doubled in one year. The digital TV industry needs some such boost.”

      CR argues that the government – and ITV Digital – needs to place more emphasis on the reception of existing free-to-air digital channels.

      In a separate development, ITV Digital’s Sports Channel has, according to the company, signed up 138,000 subscribers.

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