- BSkyB’s chief operating officer Richard Freudenstein, speaking at the Financial Times broadcasting conference, accused the UK government’s policymakers of “a deliberate unwillingness to understand what the digital satellite proposition is and what it offers viewers.” He said he had a “real concern” which Sky’s digital competitors should share “that until Westminster and Whitehall appreciate what the market as a whole can deliver we are likely to face regulation at every twist and turn that risks stifling innovation, distorting competition and slowing down the transition to digital.” Freudenstein also couldn’t resist a dig at the ITV network which currently refuses to place its broadcasts on satellite. “As I stand here today, more than 50 per cent of families with children have purchased some form of multichannel television and that number is growing every day. If I were working at ITV I’d find that statistic very worrying. That means there is a whole generation of children out there who are growing up watching digital satellite without ever seeing an ITV programme on the EPG.”
- The Ideal World Home Shopping Channel’s headquarters in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, were put out of action last week following a major fire, which all but gutted the television studio and the warehouse from which the channel despatches its goods. Presenter Dennice Robinson was forced to flee the studio in the middle of a live show as flames broke out just after 20:00 GMT. She told a local newspaper, “The monitor screens suddenly blacked out and the alarms started going off. We didn’t know what was happening. The next minute the controller was shouting at us to get out. There was so little time; we only managed to get out with the clothes on our backs; the building was like a towering inferno within minutes; it was very scary.” The channel is currently broadcasting a caption claiming that service has been interrupted due to “technical difficulties” and it is not yet known when the station will be back on air.
- Casablanca-based 2M television became an international service on March 4, 2001 by launching a new channel directed to countries in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. This new channel, which will be called 2M Maroc, will be broadcasting unencrypted 24-hours a day.
- Michael Bloomberg resigned May 5 from the financial company that bears his name, in order to concentrate on running for office as New York’s mayor.
- GE Americom reports the recently launched GE-8 satellite has started commercial operation and C-5 customers have been successfully transferred to GE-8, which is the fourth generation satellite to provide satellite-based communications service to the state of Alaska, through AT&T Alascom. GE-8, a C-band satellite, is located at 139 degrees West. The spacecraft has two dozen 36 MHz transponders.
- Digital Broadcasting Co (DBC) has taken an extra Astra transponder (Tsp 33, on Astra 2B, 12.3435 GHz) in order to boost the number of PPV services on offer. Currently DBC offers 17 digital channels.
- The Netherlands-based New Skies Satellite NV has signed a deal to supply Internet backbone connectivity to Indian Internet service provider Zee Interactive Multimedia Ltd (ZIML). Under the contract, New Skies will provide 30 megabits per second of capacity on the New Skies 703 satellite at 53 degrees East for one year starting this May. It will supply its IPsys high-speed connectivity to ZIML’s gateways in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. So far, the companies have not revealed the value of the contract. Bangalore-based ZIML is concentrating on extending its network to 26 of India’s largest metropolitan areas
- Moscow sources say the Spanish police took NTV/Media Most boss Vladimir Gusinsky into custody Tuesday, ahead of an extradition hearing scheduled for March 15. Gusinsky was originally arrested on December 12 on allegations of fraud and embezzlement charges made by Moscow authorities. He has subsequently been under house arrest in his villa near Cadiz.
- Karen Young, a non-executive director at The Money Channel, has left the company. She is replaced by Gareth Evans, Managing Director, Thomson Financial Services, who joins the board with immediate effect. Money Channel’s share price continues its steady fall, down another 7.4 per cent on March 13 to a mid-point price of 12.5p, down from 42p in the past six weeks.