- Ericsson is suing LEO platform GlobalStar for $31 million in damages for failing to buy enough handsets. According to a Globalstar SEC filing, Ericsson claims Globalstar failed to honour two contracts covering the supply of fixed (non-portable) phones and mobile handsets. A Globalstar statement says they paid for all phones that were ordered and received from Ericsson. Separately, Globalstar said CEO Bernard Schwartz has resigned in favour of former ICO boss Olof Lundberg.
- PAS-10 was successfully launched from a Proton rocket on May 15. Designed and built by Hughes/Boeing, it will orbit above the Indian Ocean carrying 48 transponders. The EBU has meanwhile taken a long-term half-transponder lease with PanAmSat covering 18 MHz of transponder 19 on PAS-9 at 58 degrees West. It has also taken an additional 72MHz of capacity over Europe and the Middle East from Eutelsat on W1 at 10 degrees East.
- RTL Shop, the German teleshopping channel operated by RTL Group, and the Hamburg-based travel channel Via1 – Schoner Reisen have formed a partnership. Described by RTL Shop’s managing director Heinz Scheve as one in which the channel has “found an ideal partner whose competence in the areas of tourism and television perfectly complements with our experiences in teleshopping”, it will see Via1 gain a daily two-hour window on RTL Shop. Via1, which launched one year ago, is available in digital to German DTH and cable viewers. According to managing director Gunther Holzschuh, the agreement with RTL Shop, which commences at the beginning of June, grants the channel access to Germany’s large analogue DTH base. RTL Shop launched as a 24- hour service in analogue on Astra (19.2 degrees East) on 1 March and is also available through teleshopping windows on RTL, RTL ll, Vox, Super RTL and Onyx-TV. Interspace believes that with their partnership both channels mainly aim to counteract the threat from TV Travel Shop Germany, which launches in analogue on Astra on 1 June.
- A new report produced by Datamonitor says the market for online and interactive TV games in Europe and the US will grow “tremendously” over the next few years. The report (Online Games and Gambling, 4th edition), along with another report (iTV Games and Gambling, 1st edition), reveal that in 2001 the combined online and itv games industry in Europe and the US will be worth $174 million. By 2005, however, it will amount to $5.6 billion, representing a compound annual growth rate of 138 per cent. All told, some 111 million people will be gaming on line in 2005.
- German publicly-owned ARD and ZDF can launch a digital pay-TV channel for German-speaking viewers in North and South America with Deutsche Welle, the country’s state- funded international broadcaster. The entertainment-focused service, which was given the green light by the 16 German regional states last week, will compete head on with Channel D, a similar project set up by private investors. While the Deutsche Welle/ARD/ZDF service will be launched next year, Channel D aims to be on air by August 1 (see feature in Interspace 718).
- US-based DARS digital radio outfit XM Satellite has started transmissions on its “Rock” satellite, a Boeing HS702 craft launched on March 18 from the Sea Launch platform. “Roll”, the second XM craft, is operating normally after its launch on May 8. The rival DARS broadcaster Sirius meanwhile says it will raise its minimum subscription price from $9.95 to $12.95 a month. Its service is slated to start by the end of this year.
- The UK-based travel channel TV Travel Shop has commenced test transmissions for its planned German-language sister service on Astra (19.2 degrees East) using the analogue transponder 56 (10.818 GHz V) formerly occupied by the English-language version. The Hannover-based affiliate will launch its regular 24-hour service on June 1, showing travel and holiday arrangements that can be directly ordered through a dedicated call centre. At present viewers are shown what the service offers through a continuously screened programme trailer. Travel Shop Germany is a joint-venture between TV Travel Shop UK and TUI, Europe’s largest travel company. Its playout and uplink facilities will be based in Cologne at the Cologne Broadcast Center (CBC), while production will take place in Hannover. CBC also uplinks Super RTL, VIVA, VIVA ZWEI, VOX, RTL ll’s Austrian and Swiss advertising windows, Super RTL’s Austrian advertising window and VIVA Polska.