Satellite news 02.06.05

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Satellite news 6.04.05

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BBC and Sky in 'row' over FA Cup coverage

The BBC and Sky are reported to be involved in a row over who will broadcast which of this season's FA Cup semi-finals. Arsenal take on Blackburn on Saturday week with Manchester United and Newcastle clashing the following day, both at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. And the Sunday game is the one both the BBC and Sky Sports want - with neither broadcaster willing to back down, according to Sunday newspapers.

Analogue TV switch-off begins in Wales

Two Welsh villages have become the first parts of the UK to lose their analogue TV signals. Around 460 households in Ferryside and Llanstephan went digital-only on March 29 as part of a government pilot scheme. Feedback from the trial will help in the national switchover process, which is due to begin nationwide in three years' time. The Welsh householders have been provided with set-top boxes, a support helpline and one-to-one support for the elderly.

ITV to relaunch Men and Motors in May

ITV has confirmed it will "relaunch" Men and Motors next month, a month later than originally expected. The news comes as ITV was named as the winner of the first vacant channel space on Freeview. "Men and Motors is changing and will be relaunched as a shinier, naughtier, funkier channel in May," said a message posted on the channel's official Web site. ITV is expected to overhaul the channel into ITV4 later in 2005.

Major rethink on Sky's EPG line-up unveiled

Sky intends to completely overhaul the line-up of channels on its servivce later this year, according to press reports. The number of channel genres (ie news, sports) is tipped to grow from seven to 15 to account for the huge growth in the number of channels on the service in recent years. At launch it offered 140 channels, but there are now more 500. The main menu page will be split into two, with Entertainment, Lifestyle & Culture, Movies, Sports, News, Documentaries, Kids and Music channels on one page and Radio, Shopping, Religion, International, Gaming & Dating, Specialist and Adult stations on the second. The changes will be rolled out in the autumn.

Digital penetration reaches 60% across UK

Just-released figures from media regulator Ofcom show digital TV penetration in the UK is close to breaching the 60% barrier, with 59.4% of UK households having made the switch by the end of 2004. Freeview's digital terrestrial service accounted for the lion’s share of this 6.6% growth on the previous quarter. The total number of digital households stood at nearly 14.8m as of December 31. Sky Digital's satellite service accounted for 7.3m of these, and Freeview 4.6m. While this represented only 2.5% quarterly growth for Sky, Freeview rocketed by 17.3%.

New mature content channel for Sky Digital in September

A new TV channel aimed at mature content men will launch in the UK this September. Called Faze TV, it will have a £5 million programming budget and its schedule will include fashion, news, music, sport, drama serials and films. "mature content channels have launched successfully in the US and France in the past 12 months," said boss David Bouchiertold. "The proposition is perfect for extending the appeal of multichannel television to an important niche audience."

Your Destiny TV starts interactive palm readings

Viewers of psychic-themed TV channel Your Destiny TV can now receive palm readings via their mobiles, after the company behind the UK station, TV Commerce Holdings, launched a new interactive service. Viewers can take pictures of their own palms with their phones and send them in to the studio in order to receive a reading. The service is available via 02, Vodafone, Orange, 3 and T-Mobile. It costs £4.50 a go with £1.70 of this being clear profit for TV Commerce, according to the company.

Fashion TV ready to return to Sky Digital

Fashion TV has begun test transmissions ahead of its official return to Sky Digital. It ceased transmissions last November after an alleged dispute with Sky. However, the tests can be found at '4164' on 11.508GHz/H (SR 27500, FEC 2/3) and a full launch is expected over the next few weeks.

Former Sky chief quits as Foxtel chairman

Sam Chisholm has quit as chairman of Australian pay platform Foxtel, following his resignation from the company's 50% owner, Telstra, back in October 2004. Chisholm, the former chief exec of Sky, has been Foxtel's chairman and Telstra's representative on the board since August 2001. However, he said he will stay on the Foxtel board, this time as a representative of 25% owner, Publishing & Broadcasting Limited, replacing PBL exec chairman James Packer, son of mogul Kerry. The other 25% of Foxtel is held by Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd.

Red Hot channels changed on Sky Digital

Several adult channels have switched positions in the line-up on Sky Digital. Red Hot Only 18 has moved from channel number 976 to 982 while Red Hot Rears is now available on 976. Red Hot UK Talent on 981 is now called Red Hot Climax while Red Hot Films on 983 has been revamped as Red Hot Movies.

Life TV to launch new time-shifted channel

Life TV is preparing to launch a second service on Sky Digital to accommodate its main channel on channel 160. Test transmissions of the new channel, which will be timeshifted by two hours, are going ahead and the channel will be on air by the end of May. Life TV+2's tests are available at 11.266GHz/H under the label '52107'.

Digital TV news

Pakistan news and entertainment channel Geo UK has started on Sky channel 838... New Asian channel Zee Gujarati has launched on Sky Digital channel 839... Shopping channel QVC UK has reported a 17% rise in sales and a leap in customer numbers... Telewest is reportedly exploring the possibility of an £800m sale of Flextech, which owns channels such as Bravo and Challenge and a 50% stake in the UKTV family of digital channels with the BBC... The Hallmark Channel has been pulled off air in Spain and Portugal, just weeks before the David Elstein-led $242m buy-out of the international business is completed.

France launches digital terrestrial TV service

France has finally launched a digital terrestrial television service. Called TV numerique terrestre it is branded as Television Numerique pour Tous, or 'Digital Television For All' and offers 14 free-to-air channels initially available for 35 per cent of the population.

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Satellite news 11.04.05

News

MTV launches new broadband music Web site

MTV has announced it is launching a free Internet-based service that will show some of the TV station's programmes. The MTV Overdrive Web site will give users with broadband connections the ability to watch music videos and extended programmes on demand. The site is in testing and is scheduled to officially launch on 25 April. MTV president Van Toffler rejected suggestions that the new site would attract viewers away from MTV's existing TV channels. He said: "The TV experience is still great. Our ratings are moving higher and we don't fear that."

Fox launches new reality TV channel in US

US network Fox is to launch a TV channel devoted entirely to reality entertainment programmes. Called 'Fox Reality', it will air a continuous stream of popular shows such as Joe Millionaire and Temptation Island. Much of the schedule will initially be re-runs and one-off original shows with behind-the-scenes footage, updates on reality personalities and commentary. The channel is tipped to launch in May and, if successful, could cross the Atlantic to launch in the UK next year.

ZEE announces plans for global TV news channel

Zee Networks, India's leading broadcaster, said it plans to launch a global news channel along the lines of CNN International and BBC World. Zee Networks chairman, Subhash Chandra, said that Zee would "soon launch" an English-language global news station offering an Indian perspective on the world. He added that the channel's aim would be to balance CNN's American viewpoint and the BBC's British viewpoint on world events.

Humax unveils new LCD with built-in PVR

Set top box maker Humax has launched a digital LCD TV (iDTV) with built-in personal video recorder (PVR). The 32in LGB32-TPVR combines twin Freeview receivers with a PVR, which can record up to 30 hours of TV programmes to a 40Gb internal hard disk drive.

Napster to launch its own digital TV channel

Online music service Napster is considering the launch of its own UK digital TV channel, it has emerged. Leanne Sharman, Napster's Vice President, told a gathering of TV bosses: "To extend the Napster experience to TV is the logical next step in the UK roll-out of the brand." The company's move follows a prediction earlier in the year by Chris Gorog, chairman and chief executive, that Napster would move into video and even movie subscription services.

Plans for new Astra 1M satellite brought forward

SES Astra has announced plans to launch its latest satellite, Astra 1M. The craft will replace Astra 1H and provide in-orbit backup capacity for the Astra fleet at 19.2° East. It will have 32 active Ku-band transponders, thereby providing more security to support Astra’s growth at 28.2° East, from where Sky Digital broadcasts. It comes as Astra 2C, currently at 19.2° East, is expected to be relocated to 28.2° East after the successful launches of Astra 1KR and Astra 1L, to provide additional capacity for the UK. A statement from SES Astra explained that it had brought forward the purchase of the replacement spacecraft, Astra 1M, "in order to protect the timing of the relocation of Astra 2C, in the unlikely event of an unsuccessful launch of Astra 1KR or Astra 1L."

Sky issues over-the-air Digibox upgrade

Sky has begun sending out automatic over-the-air software updates to all Sky digiboxes in order to launch several new features. They include the ability to block specific channels at certain times, and an option to set the interactive red dot icon to automatically disappear after 30 seconds. Viewers can tell whether their box has been upgraded by checking the colour of the audio icon on any one of the radio stations - the icon in the 'Now and Next' banner will be white instead of blue if the update has taken place.

More4 unveils launch date and schedule

Channel 4 has confirmed the launch date of More4, its upcoming free-to-air digital TV channel. Starting in October, the channel will be available on Freeview, Sky Digital and cable and will premiere new episodes of popular US drama The West Wing and will have a strong emphasis on factual programmes plus original and acquired dramas and films. More4 will also have a daily news programme to extend the Channel 4 News brand, and there is likely to be a nightly talkshow covering topical issues. The new channel is part of C4's long-term plan to launch various digital channels and keep its voice in the multi-channel world.

UKTV Drama to extend its hours from May

Factual entertainment channel UKTV Drama is to extend its transmission hours next month, it has been confirmed. The channel is currently on air from 9pm until 5am each day but will start showing a non-stop, 24-hour schedule from May 30.

Large TV audience watched Pope's funeral

BBC News 24's live coverage of the funeral of Pope John Paul II proved to be the most popular of the satellite news channels, with an audience of 168,000 tuning in between 10-11am, and 190,000 watching between 11am and noon. Sky News came a close second with an average of 154,000 viewers between 10am and 1pm.

Survey: 2012 digital switch-over is 'unreleastic'

A survey of UK advertising executives has found that they believe plans to complete analogue to digital switchover by 2012 are "unrealistic". The survey from MediaTel Insight also found they are concerned that householders wouldn’t upgrade their second and third TV sets and the ensuing consumer backlash will be too bitter a political pill to swallow. The intended date of 2012 for the switch-off may be pushed back to as late as 2016, believe the executives.

New religious channel starts on Sky Digital

A new 24-hour Christian channel called INI has made its debut on Sky Digital channel 678. Inspiration Network International is based in North Carolina and provides a mixture of ministry programming from America and Europe.

More digital TV:

JML Direct on Sky channel 659 is now called eeZee TV... The Game-In TV channel is to be renamed Pokerzone TV shortly... Faze TV, the soon-to-launch mature content TV channel, will be a subscription service, it has been confirmed. Faze will offer lifestyle content, dramas and movies... ITV and Sky looked set to retain their shared UK rights of the UEFA Champions League as bids for the 2006-2009 coverage closed last week... ITV has signed up Star Trek: The Next Generation star Patrick Stewart for a new science thriller to start filming next month called Eleventh Hour.

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Satellite news 18.04.05

News

Playboy TV launches new SMS payments

Playboy TV has launched a new payment service for its viewers to buy access to its channel via their mobile phone. The UK arm of Playboy TV International, which incudes the Playboy TV channel, Spice Extreme and the Adult Channel, claims to be the first broadcaster to let customers pay via premium rate text messages. By texting the word 'go' to a short code, Sky viewers can access six channels, paid for by receiving the equivalent of 20 premium rate text messages at £1.50 each per month.

BBC News 24 staff join strike action this week

Staff working for BBC News 24 are expected to take industrial action this week in response to the Corporation's impending job cuts. Members of the National Union of Journalists will comply with a strict "work-to-rule" policy from Monday as part of a protest against the 4,000 job losses, which were announced by Director-General Mark Thompson in March. The policy will essentially see the staff "withdrawing goodwill" by refusing to work beyond contracted hours and taking full breaks, even if a major news event occurs. The BBC said that it remained "confident" that the channel's output would not be affected by the action.

MTV signs promotion deal with Channel Five

MTV has agreed a two-year deal Channel Five for terrestrial TV rights to the MTV Europe Music Awards and additional rights to the MTV Video Music Awards and the MTV Movie Awards. Five will produce UK-targeted on-air promotions, pre-show programmes and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage for their MTV Europe Music Awards broadcast which is set to take place on November 3 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Sky One buys rights to big budget war drama

Sky One has bought the rghts to a hard-hitting Steven Bochco drama called Over There from Twentieth Century Fox. The drama series looks at army life in war-torn Iraq and will debut on Sky One this autumn. It will start in July on the FX Network in the US. The series was sold on the basis of a pilot script written by series co-creator Chris Gerolmo. "I'm grateful to Sky One for their faith in Over There and grateful as well for the support I've received in the UK for my earlier shows," Bochco said in a statement. "I'm hopeful Over There won't fall short of expectations." Bochco's other well known shows include Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue and Murder One.

New kids channel for 12-17 year-olds to start

Jetix, previously called Fox Kids, is planning to launch a new childrens channel in the UK. Named GXT, it will be aimed at 12 to 17-year-old boys and will go live in Italy on May 1, with a UK launch expected later in the year. GXT's schedule includes extreme sports, wrestling, music, reality shows and Japanese cartoons. "Once we've seen how successful it is in Italy then we will make a decision as to whether or not to bring it to the UK. We would also have to look at the economics over here," said Paul Taylor, Jetix Europe CEO.

Teletext launches new car dealership service

Teletext is launching a free service for car dealers to advertise their wares across its four digital media platforms, via TV remote control and the Web. Through telco company THUS, it will provide more than 1,000 car dealers with separate 0845 numbers to correspond with each Teletext platform, allowing Teletext to monitor call volumes and advise dealers on the most successful sales channels.

Two more slots on Freeview to become free

Freeview co-owner Crown Castle is this week reported to be preparing another two TV channel slots on the digital terrestrial platform for auction. It comes after the award of one slot to ITV and a widely expected deal with Channel 4 for a second slot. A Crown Castle spokesman told The Guardian: "While the effect of the new ITV and Channel 4 services on the existing Freeview channels remains to be seen, Crown Castle has indicated it can squeeze additional capacity on." Competition was fierce for the recent channel contests with Five, Turner and Disney reportedly bidding for the slot that went to ITV for an annual fee said to be over £5m.

New names for Discovery's digital channels

Discovery Home & Leisure and Discovery Health are to be revamped next month with a new name and look. On May 7, the lifestyle channel Discovery Health will be named Discovery Home & Health, while Discovery Real Time will be the new name for Discovery Home & Leisure.

MGM's film channels 'set for rapid expansion'

MGM's international movie channels business will retain independence under the MGM brand and is set for rapid expansion, according to MGM Networks executive vp Bruce Tuchman. Giving the first details of the division's future after the Sony-led acquisition of MGM was finalised, he dismissed media press reports that the division would be linked with channel businesses operated by Sony companies. "We will operate independently under the MGM banner and continue to build the business," he said. "The difference (since the closure of the deal) for us is that now we have some very strong financing partners standing behind us." Some UK media watchers believe the deal means MGM may even now be planning to launch its own film channel on Sky Digital.

RTE channels launch on Sky in Northern Ireland

Sky Digital viewers in Northern Ireland will be able to receive RTÉ One, RTÉ Two and TG4 in their channel line-up for the first time from Monday April 18th. RTÉ One will be on channel 267, RTÉ Two will be on 268, and TG4 will be on 269. Noel Curran, Managing Director of RTÉ Television, said: "We have always believed that RTÉ services should be available to as wide an audience as possible on all platforms and today is another step towards achieving that goal. We are now, along with TG4, the first broadcasters to be available on Sky digital on an all-island basis."

FX 289 gets new name and new logo

Fox's UK entertainment TV channel FX289 is to be renamed this week when it becomes simply 'FX' - due to a switch of channel positions within the Sky electronic programme guide. The channel will move to Sky Digital channel 270 on Thursday April 21 when it will also be given a new onscreen logo.

Sky One snaps up rights to golf celeb show

Sky One has bought the rights to a new celebrity golf show, which will reportedly be broadcast over three days and include top Hollywood names such as Sylvester Stallone, Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas. Sky One enjoyed success with its celebrity football show The Match earlier this year and has jumped in to snap up the rights ahead of ITV, which was also considering a bid. The show will follow a Ryder Cup-style contest between two celebrity teams; one representing Europe, and the other the USA. The US team could comprise of Sylvester Stallone, Samuel L Jackson, Kyle MacLachlan, Kenny G and Haley Joel Osment, while Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas, Donald Trump and Andy Garcia may also join them. The European team will include Hugh Grant, Boris Becker, Sir Steve Redgrave, Ronan Keating, Chris Evans and, possibly, James Nesbitt, Ian Wright and Jodie Kidd.

Sky launches first interactive TV credit card

The UK's first interactive TV credit and loyalty card has been launched by Sky. The SkyCard works like any other credit card in shops and cash machines worldwide, but can also be inserted in the interactive slot on the Sky Digibox, letting customers manage their credit card via their TV, view the latest rewards available and redeem Sky Points.

Digital TV news in brief...

The TV Travelshop channels on Sky Digital channels 631-2 have been renamed iBuy TV 1 & 2... Sky Vegas Live is moving to Sky channel 272 this Thursday, April 21... SABTV on Sky Digital channel 829 is now called MATV National... Simply Home is now called Superstore TV on Sky Digital channel 640... The Labour Party's General Election manifesto has pledged that UK digital switchover will be achieved between 2008 and 2012... BBC News has won a Peabody Award for its recent television coverage of the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Nostalgic 80s TV shows making a come-back

Many of the most-watched TV shows of the '70s and '80s are being revamped and brought back onscreen for a new generation of viewers across Europe. Slots are opening up for such gems as Dynasty, Magnum, P.I., The A-Team and Knight Rider. With so many digital channels launching, the shows of yesteryear are finding a place in TV schedules. "Gone are the days when any channel could bang out fillers; the market has gone through that stage, and now every part of the schedule is much more competitive," said David Clarke, channel controller of Bravo, which shows Knight Rider, Airwolf and The Fall Guy. "We did some focus groups with young male viewers and found that people have a real affinity with these shows because they already have a relationship with them. Viewers get more excited about nostalgic shows."

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Satellite news 24.04.05

News

Sci Fi UK commissions new Star Trek show

Sci Fi UK has commissioned its first original series in two years, celebrating the unsung heroes behind Star Wars movies. The series, called Star Wars: Unsung Heroes Edition, will tell the personal tales of 10 people involved in one of the most famous film franchises. The show has also been sold to the 13th Street TV channel in France and Spain, Studio Universal in Italy and Sci Fi in Germany. Patrick Vien, president of NBC Universal Global Networks, said: "The success of the Star Wars: Unsung Heroes Edition programming and its resulting European licensing deals reflects the uniqueness and quirkiness of the interviews, the universal appeal of the subject matter, and intelligent cross channel collaboration."

New Scandinavian sports channel to launch

Viasat is set to launch a new 24-hour sports channel in Scandinavia that will show live coverage plus daily acquired and self-produced programmes. Viasat Sport 24 will be available to subscribers of Viasat's satellite DTH Gold package in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Viasat said the channel will broadcast up to 3,000 hours of live sport a year. The new channel will also broadcast up to four events simultaneously, using several windows on one screen and will also carry on-screen tickers with the latest sports news, results, scores and betting odds. Viasat's sports rights include the Ice Hockey World Championship, the UEFA champions league, the European and US PGA golf tours and the FA Cup. Its other sports channels include premium channel Viasat Sport 1, soccer-targeted Viasat Sport 2 and Viasat Sport 3, which focuses on boxing, martial arts and motor sports.

New film channels launch this week

Sit-up TV's two new film channel will launch on Sky Digital this week. Matinee Movies will be on channel 336 and Bad Movies will be on channel 339. Matinee movies will broadcast classic movies between 9am - 9pm each day, while Bad Movies will be on air from 9pm to 9am and will be the world’s first movie channel dedicated to the very worst in film entertainment.

BBC Three starts multi-screen TV schedule

From Sunday (May 1), Sky Digital viewers will have greater choice over the way they watch BBC Three programmes. From 9pm, viewers will be prompted to press the red button to be offered the choice of three additional streams of programming complementary to BBC Three and categorised under Dramatic, Funny and Real. On a sample Sunday evening content available could range from Nighty Night and Bodies to Little Angels. Stuart Murphy, Controller of BBC Three, said: "The 'Best of Three' multi-screen trial is a bold and ground-breaking new application which offers viewers more control and greater access to the wide range of programmes on BBC Three. In the future we believe viewers will want to watch their favourite show when they want it and not wait until a scheduler decides to transmit it." Viewers will be encouraged to try out the service and the trial will last six months.

Fashion TV returns to Sky Digital line-up

Fashion TV has rejoined Sky Digital's line-up. The 24-hour channel that features the latest fashions and models from around the world accompanied by music can be found on channel 220. The channel is now part of the Sky Family Package and is no longer broadcast on a free-to-air basis. Sky Media has been appointed to handle all UK and Ireland advertising sales.

Men & Motors teaser starts on Freeview

A temporary teaser channel advertising the upcoming launch of ITV's Men & Motors channel on Freeview has appeared on channel number 38. The relaunched channel will contain entertainment based programmes and feature lifestyle shows that will appeal to young male viewers. The channel fully launches next Monday, May 2.

Life TV launches new time-shifted channel

Life TV has launched a new time-shifted channel on Sky Digital. Called Life TV +2, it broadcasts the programmes on Life TV two hours later. It is available 24 hours a day and can be found on Sky Digital number 161.

Radio Times to launch new TV based service

Eighty years after its launch in print, the BBC's TV listings magazine is poised to offer an electronic programme guide (EPG) in the UK. The Radio Times will provide listings content, previews and reviews to the subscription-free, seven-day EPG. Under the agreement the BBC Worldwide-owned Radio Times will sell all advertising on GUIDE Plus+ and will promote the service through its magazine and other media platforms.

Sky One goes wild with new animal docs

Sky One is to show a range of leading wildlife documentaries for the first time. It has bought a series from a New Zealand natural history production house about sharks, titled When the Shark Bites. Mixing shark footage with stories from survivors, it looks at the 'big three' in the shark world: the Bull, the Tiger and the Great White. The documentary will be aired on May 23 on Sky One. The station is also showing Last Chance to Save later this year, a 10-part series where celebrities will present the case for conserving various endangered species.

Challenge to start new late night casino slot

Flextech's games channel Challenge is launching a new late night casino entertainment programme slot called The Player, which includes a raft of new commissions and gambling movies. It comes amid an explosion in the number of interactive games services available to Sky Digital viewers. A dedicated poker channel launched earlier this year and several interactive gambling channels now exist.

BBC launches viewers' short films channel

The BBC is giving viewers an opportunity to broadcast their own short films via interactive TV. It is launching a new 24-hour red button service on Sky Digital called Your Stories which draws on content produced out of two other BBC projects, Video Nation and Digital Stories, designed to arm people with the necessary skills to make their own films. Rahul Chakkara, controller of BBCi, said: "The BBCi audience is maturing. They are looking for content that is social and highly involving, and available to them whenever they want. Your Stories is the beginning of our efforts to meet this need. We go beyond involvement through interaction and we involve our audiences by encouraging them to produce their own content."

Reports suggest ex-BBC boss could bid for ITV

ITV's shares on the London exchange have climbed in recent days as rumours in the press continued to ciculate that former BBC Director General Greg Dyke is planning to team up with private equity firm Apax to launch a takeover. City analysts suggested that a bid would have to come in at about £7 billion but would be difficult to justify, given concerns about advertising at the UK's biggest commercial broadcaster. Meanwhile, there is also speculation that former Five chief executive David Elstein's company Sparrowhawk could also be lining up a bid for the company.

Digital TV news in brief

Travel Channel 3 is expected to launch on Sky Digital this week... On Sky Digital, FX has moved from channel 289 to 270, while Sky Vegas Live has moved from 295 to 272... EuroNews has signed a carriage deal in Estonia, adding some 70,000 digital terrestrial homes to its list... Former BBC boss Greg Dyke has hit out at the corporation's plans to axe 3,780 jobs, claiming the move was unnecessary and has created a 'climate of fear'... Peter Salmon has resigned as the BBC's director of sport to become chief executive of independent production company the TV Corporation...

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Satellite news 03.05.05

News

Channel 5 planning women's TV channel?

Channel 5 is reportedly considering the launch of a new digital TV channel aimed at female viewers. The station would have similar output to that of Living TV, according to press reports. A spokesperson for Five said that "a range of options" were being considered as part of the channel's digital strategy.

Top Up TV trials new pay-per-day service

Digital terrestrial pay-TV servuce Top Up TV is testing a new 'pay-per-day' service called Xtra which operates without a smartcard. Instead, viewers call a premium rate line which authorises the £1-a-day payment for the service. Top Up co-founder David Chance, a former Sky executive, said the service is a "cheap and flexible service." A full launch for all viewers is expected to go ahead soon.

E4 goes free-to-air on Freeview in May

Channel 4 has announced it will make its entertainment channel E4 available on a free-to-air basis on Freeview at the end of May. The launch of E4 on Freeview - which will coincide with the sixth series of Big Brother - expands Channel 4's multi-channel offerings at a time when its chief executive, Andy Duncan, has warned of a potential £100 million funding shortfall as TV audiences make the switch to multi-channel TV. E4 will continue to be broadcast on cable TV and on Sky Digital, but operators will no longer be required to pay Channel 4 a subscription fee. The channel will also be removed from the Top Up TV package on Freeview, and Channel 4 will also launch a time-shifted version, called E4 +1, on Freeview, at the same time.

True Movies channel launches on Sky Digital

Movies 333, the free-to-air films channel which shows titles with a true story theme, has been given a new name and extra broadcast time. Now called True Movies, the channel is on air 24 hours a day and is found on Sky Digital channel 333.

Sky News winning the election ratings war

Sky News has maintained a strong lead over rival BBC News 24 during the run-up to the General Election. Since the campaign was launched on April 5, Sky News has averaged a 0.62 share of viewing in multi-channel homes compared with 0.53 for News 24 and 0.13 for the ITV News Channel.

Sky's election night coverage to air on C5

Sky News' general election night coverage will be simulcast live on Channel Five. From midnight to 6am on May 6, Five will show a live simulcast of Sky's election coverage. Nick Pollard, the head of Sky News, said: "Viewers will be offered a fresh alternative to the usual suspects with Sky's fast-paced, live coverage anchored by Five News presenter Julie Etchingham and our highly regarded political editor Adam Boulton."

New Pakistan channel starts on Sky

Pakistan's infotainment channel Geo TV has officially launched on Sky Digital channel 838. It is currently broadcasting on a free-to-air basis but is expected to became a pay service later in May.

New on-air times for The Travel Channel

The Travel Channel on Sky Digital channel 148 has changed its transmission times. It has changed back to the broadcast hours of 7am-1am that it originally used. Meanwhile, its sister service Travel Channel 2 on Sky channel 149 has become a timeshifted service. Travel Channel +1 broadcasts from 8am-2am each day, providing the Travel Channel's schedule on a one hour delay.

Virgin Radio Classic Rock launches on Sky

Virgin Radio Classic Rock has launched on Sky Digital. The station airs a mix of guitar driven rock including Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Van Halen, Aerosmith and The Who. It will initially be available on WRN's 'Radio' service on channel 934 but will move to a dedicated channel later in the year.

Sky faces 'struggle to find new subscribers'

Sky is likely to report an 18 per cent increase in third quarter revenues this week, but the broadcaster could soon be running out of new subscribers in Ireland and in Britain, according to city analysts. In the previous quarter, Sky signed up 192,000 new subscribers, of which a disproportionately large 32,000 were from the Republic of Ireland. Analysts believe that competition from rivals, including Freeview, has reduced Sky's potential in its main British market. Indeed, some brokers forecast that Sky shares, which have barely risen since the start of the year will be little changed over the next year from current levels. James Enck, analyst at Daiwa Institute of Research in London, has a 12-month target for Sky of 549 pence - little changed from the 537p the shares traded at last week.

Racing UK to launch online race coverage

Racing UK, the digital TV horse racing channel, has linked up with the Racing Post newspaper to broadcast races on the Internet. Racing UK is inviting companies involved in online sports and gaming to bid for five licences to offer a combination of live horse racing and analysis supplied by the Racing Post. The service will also let customers bet online. Simon Bazalgette, executive chairman of Racing UK, said: "Our partnership with the Racing Post is a powerful combination of video and data, which will allow horseracing punters to study form and view live races via broadband."

ITV returns to digital terrestrial TV business

ITV is getting back into the digital terrestrial TV business three years after the collapse of ITV Digital. It has bought digital multiplex operator SDN Limited from United Business Media and S4C Digital Media Limited in a deal worth around £149 million. Charles Allen, CEO of ITV, said the acquisition was another step in ITV’s strategic development. "Initially, ITV will benefit from a new source of revenue but, critically, this ensures that ITV has the opportunity for future capacity on the digital platform where its highly-successful family of channels performs best," he said.

This week's digital TV news in brief...

New shopping channel Gems TV Silver will start on Sky channel 663 shortly... Irish sports broadcaster Setanta has signed a broadcasting deal with DirecTV to launch its channel in the US... An estimated 300,000 set-top boxes have been sold in France less than a month after the launch of free-to-air digital terrestrial TV in the country... ITV3 has been the most successfully launched digital channel on record, but has still failed to make much impact on the overall share for the ITV family of channels, according to new ratings figures... Asian TV channel Vectone Tamil on Sky Digital has gone off the air.

TV ad revenue rising at fastest rate for five years

TV advertising revenue grew at its fastest rate for five years in the first quarter of 2005. Ad revenue rose by 13 per cent in the first three months of the year, according to official figures.

Humax unveils its first Top-Up TV box

Humax has unveiled its first Top-Up TV ready set-top box. The Humax MG-TUI offers affordable access to over 50 free-to-air Freeview digital TV and radio channels with the option of adding a further eleven channels through the paid-for Top-Up TV service including UKTV Gold, UKTV Style and the Discovery Channel.

New free film channels launch on Sky Digital

As expected, two new free-to-air movie channels from Sit Up have launched on Sky Digital. Matinee Movies, on channel 336, offers a variety of classic and family films between 12 noon and 9pm, while Bad Movies shows 'cinematic turkeys' on channel 339 between midnight and 9am.

Regards Satdude.
 

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Satellite news 09.05.05

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Sky is 'on track for 8 million subs by year-end'

Sky says it is on track to reach its target of 8 million subscribers by the end of 2005, having reached 7,704,000 by the end of March. Its latest financial results show that net additions stood at 95,000 in the quarter ending March 31, while the number of Sky+ subscribers was up 128,000 to a total of 770,000, and multiroom subscribers grew by 90,000 to 563,000. Profits also continued to grow - rising £273 million from £243 million a year ago.

Sky signs up Channel 4's cricket sponsor

Sky Sports has signed former Channel 4 cricket sponsor Computeach to sponsor some of its key international and domestic cricket programming this summer, marking the first time that all cricket on Sky has a broadcast partner. Independent computer training company Computeach's sponsorship includes Sky Sports' coverage of the C&G Trophy, the West Indies clashes against South Africa and Pakistan, the Frizzell County Championship, under-19 England matches and Sky Sports' cricket magazine show 'Extra Cover'. Computeach originally signed up as the official broadcast sponsor of Channel 4 cricket matches in 2004, which were then lost to Sky Sports following an aggressive and lengthy pitch process, in which Sky reportedly paid £220m for the four-year rights.

New-look Discovery channels launched

Discovery Home & Leisure and Discovery Health have - as predicted by Wotsat.com several weeks ago - both re-launched with new names and looks on Sky Digital. Discovery Health on channel 154 is now called Discovery Home & Health, while Discovery Home & Leisure has become Discovery Real Time on channel 133. The time-shift service Discovery Home & Leisure +1 on channel 134 has also changed to Discovery Real Time +1.

New religious channel starts on Sky

New Christian channel Loveworld TV has made its debut on Sky Digital channel 679 as a free-to-air service. The 24-hour channel's schedule consists of "faith-building and revelation programmes, talk shows, inspiring miracles and healing programmes, featuring Gospel Crusades, motivational programmes, educational programmes, news and documentaries, magazines shows, music and entertainment, dramas, children’s programmes and movies."

Animal Planet gets its own reality TV series

Discovery Animal Planet is linking up with the WWF conservation group to produce a new eco-reality series that will be broadcast in the second quarter of 2006 on Discovery channels in more than 160 countries. The series will feature a diverse group of seven participants between the ages of 18 and 35 culled from the WWF's Panda Passport programme and Animal Planet's international websites, as well as educational institutions and other sources. The selected candidates will be work alongside local WWF experts who will mentor participants. Learning firsthand about the realities of conservation while at the same time coping with extreme conditions, unfamiliar cultures, tight deadlines and the pressures of protecting wildlife, the participants will have six weeks to accomplish their specific tasks.

EU wants separate Premier League TV deals

It has already been widely reported that, following a European commission investigation, Sky will lose its exclusive grip on live Premier League football when the rights are auctioned next summer. But according to reports in The Guardian, Brussels is demanding something more radical and has told the Premier League that separate live packages should be reserved for cable, Freeview, DSL and digital satellite.


Poor turnout for election TV coverage

BBC One's election coverage was watched by two and a half times as many viewers as ITV's coverage, according to official viewing figures. However, fewer than 8.5 million viewers tuned into Thursday's television coverage of the U.K. general election results. BBC1's ratings Thursday peaked at 6 million at 10.45 pm, when the results of the first seat was called, averaging 4.7 million between 10pm-1am, according to overnight ratings from BARB.

More digital TV news in brief...

ITV's 50th anniversary programming set to hit UK screens in September includes What Did ITV Do for Me?, 49 Up and Best Ever Ads... BBC Worldwide has announced that Olga Edridge will step down from her post as director of joint ventures and new channels at the end of the month... Buena Vista International Television-Asia Pacific has announced a multi-year licensing deal with Zee Network, for its newly rebranded English movie channel, formerly known as Zee Movie Zone, which may launch in the UK later in 2005.

Regards Satdude.
 

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Satellite news 31.05.05

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Orange offers TV channels on mobile phones

Mobile phone operator Orange is launching nine TV channels, including news, sport and entertainment programmes, for viewing via mobile handsets. The service will be available to customers on Orange's 3G network using Nokia's 6680 handset. Customers can download the application for free and will then be charged £10 per month for about 20 hours of viewing time of ITN News, CNN, Comedy Time, Cartoon Network, Toon World, Fashion TV and Extreme Sports. Special channels have also been developed for reality shows Big Brother and Celebrity Love Island. Orange is already offering 23 TV channels over mobile phones in France.

Premier League targets online TV pirates

The Premier League is considering legal action against Internet providers who, it claims, are jeopardising its £1 billion TV rights deals by streaming live matches online from foreign countries broadcasting live football games. Under a UK ‘blackout’, designed to protect match attendances, Premier League football matches are not shown live in the UK on Saturday afternoons, however games are shown live in 195 foreign countries as part of a £320 million deal with foreign TV channels. The Premier League has called in technology company NetResult to hunt down and shut down the sites. It has already closed 50 sites so far and the League now intends to sue one of the sites for copyright breach as a test case.

FHM launches men's music TV channel on Sky

Men's magazine FHM has launched its own music TV channel, FHM Music TV and claimed that it offers the "sexiest singers, bikini-packed videos, urban and cult classics." The schedule includes programmes called Pump it Up, a daily workout session; Battle of the Butts, featuring the backsides of female celebs; and School of Rock, playing air-guitar anthems. Shirley Renwick, MD at Emap TV, said: "The decision to push FHM into a music channel just makes sense. The audience feedback on our FHM branded shows has been tremendous: they want more FHM, so that’s what we’re giving them." The channel is timesharing with existing music channel Q on Sky Digital channel 453, broadcasting between 4pm and 6am daily.

Sky One unveils new fashion reality TV series

Sky One intends to add reality programmes back into its schedule, having given the go-ahead for a version of the US programme Project Runway to be made for it. The UK show will be called Project Catwalk and will give viewers an insight into what it takes to get into the fashion industry. It will be broadcast early in 2006 and will include a panel of industry figures, including a top fashion designer, serving as judges and industry mentors to a group of 12 wannabe designers. Contestants will face elimination each week based on challenges set for them, with the three finalists showcasing full lines on the catwalk during London Fashion Week in February 2006.

GMTV's Eamonn Holmes joins Sky News

Former GMTV anchorman Eamonn Holmes is joining Sky News to host its breakfast show Sunrise in a deal reported to be worth £2million. A revamped Sunrise will broadcast 6am-9am on weekdays from Sky News' new studios in Osterley and presenting alongside Holmes will be Lorna Dunkley. "Moving to Sunrise gives me the opportunity to continue saying 'good morning' to the nation, whilst bringing them the events that set the news agenda," said Holmes. "I have always admired Sky News as an outstanding news organisation, and am very pleased to be joining it." Holmes quit his £450,000 a year job at GMTV in January blaming early morning starts and wanting to spend more time with his family as his main reason for leaving.

Pay-per-view sports channel on the move

Three pay-per-view sports channels have changed positions in the Sky Digital line-up. PremPlus is now on channel 437, Setanta PPV1 is on 438, and Setanta PPV2 is on 439. The moves free up some capacity for several new channels to launch soon.

High def version of UEFA final for first time

German satellite channel ProSiebenSat.1 will broadcast a live transmission of a major sports event in high definition format. The UEFA Champions League final between FC Liverpool and AC Milan on May 25, 2005 will be transmitted live from the Atatürk Olympia Stadium in Istanbul in high-resolution HDTV. It will be available at 19.2° East at 11.4355GHz vertical.

Channel Four profits rise 34 per cent

Record income from advertising helped Channel Four's profits rise last year to £46m, up 34 per cent from £34.3m, according to official figures out this week. It was helped by a four-fold rise in operating profits from commercial arm 4 Ventures to reach £12.1m. Chief executive Andy Duncan said the profits were being re-invested in the core C4 terrestrial channel, along with digital channels E4 and soon-to-be launched More4.

This week's digital TV news in brief...

A new digital TV channel dedicated to football called Setanta Soccer has launched on Sky channel 434... Living TV has bought the rights to its latest US series, NBC's ratings winner Showbiz Moms & Dads, a seven-part series... Sky could be planning to axe up to 1,000 jobs, or 10 per cent of its workforce, as part of an efficiency drive, according to press reports... Inmarsat has played down reports it is preparing for an imminent flotation but left open the possibility of a stock market listing later this year after it launches a new satellite... National Geographic's Digital Media group has signed with an American-Croatian-owned company called Mobitel to deliver content to mobile phone users in eastern Europe.

Regards Satdude.
 

Satdude

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Satellite news 02.06.05

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Channel Five 'makes offer' for soccer TV rights

Channel Five is reported to have made a "substantial offer" for TV rights to Champions League football matches from next year. Its rival, ITV, has covered the tournament since its inception in 1992 and currently shares the rights with Sky, but Five is now targeting the terrestrial rights.

MTV to launch new Caribbean music channel

MTV is to launch a new digital TV channel called Tempo dedicated to Caribbean music and culture - however the station will only be available in the US and Caribbean initially. The channel, launching in October, will provide a mix of acquired and original programming relevant to the spirit of the Caribbean and its lifestyle. If successful, it could make its European debut in the UK next year.

Virgin TV to launch on mobile phones

Virgin Mobile is to launch a TV service that will allow customers to watch a range of digital channels and even record programmes on their mobile phones. Virgin Mobile said that the service will take the existing digital broadcast signal and adapt it so it can be viewed on a mobile phone. Virgin Mobile has reportedly abandoned its network partner T-Mobile for the service, but will use the company's 3G network to offer interactive elements.

British Eurosport joins Top Up TV's line-up

Freeview viewers who subscribe to the £7.99-a-month Top Up TV package can now watch British Eurosport after the sports service decided to join Top Up's 10-channel package on channel 49. It has replaced E4, which has become free-to-air. Eurosport is on air for nine hours a day between 2pm and 11pm. It is the second sports channel on digital terrestrial TV, joining Sky Sports News.

Premier League brings in government man

Sky's current £1bn deal for live Premiership football expires in 2007 and the FA has hired Bill Bush, a former special adviser to the culture secretary, to be closely involved in the negotiations leading up to the new TV rights contract. He has become the director of public policy at the Premier League.

ITV4 to target men when it launches this autumn

ITV has confirmed this week that it will launch ITV4, its latest digital channel, in the autumn. CEO Mick Desmond said it will be a male-biased channel but "it's absolutely not Men and Motors." He added that the channel will have a more populist feel and will be aimed at men of all ages. "In the same way ITV2 is young and more female and ITV3 is older and more upmarket, ITV4 will be more male-biased but with a generalist programme," he said. Its schedule will include sport, police dramas and US sitcoms.

New quiz channel starts on Sky Digital

A new quiz channel has launched on Sky Digital channel 276 called The Great Big British Quiz. Former kids TV presenter Timmy Mallett was the first face seen the station. Managing Director Mark Murphy said the British public has a huge appetite for quizzes and games, and claims the new channel is the only service to consistently give away high returns to its viewers. The free-to-air station is on air daily from 3pm until 2am.

New mature content TV channel unveils launch plans

A brand new mature content channel called Faze TV will make its debut on Sky Digital on September 1. The pay-TV station will launch after a big advertising push at this summer's mature content pride festivals. "The launch of a TV channel just for mature content men is long overdue in Britain," said Bouchier. "The channel’s schedule will appeal to every aspect of being a mature content man in Britain today and we will avoid the clichés which mainstream channels use to appeal to their ‘straight’ audience. There are many mature content men on television today – but no TV for mature content men."

New channel number for Sound TV

Sound TV and Information TV have moved to a new EPG channel number on Sky Digital. They have moved from the News & Documentaries section to channel 277 in the Entertainment section.

High definition TV coverage of French Open

The finals of the Roland Garros French Open will be shown live on the Hot Bird satellite in high definition format this week. The coverage at 13° East will be available at 11.242GHz/V (SR 27,500). HDTV signals offer an increased image resolution by incrementing the number of scan lines and the number of pixels per each line. HDTV signals offer up to 1080 active lines and 1920 pixels per line, instead of the 576 lines and 720 pixels per line provided by PAL TV.

Ofcom aiming for 98.5% DTT coverage

Ofcom says digital terrestrial television (DTT) coverage in the UK should reach at least the same proportion of households (98.5 per cent) after switchover as are reached by current analogue TV broadcasts. This is to ensure that after switchover UK households continue to receive the nationally available public service TV channels such as BBC1, BBC2, ITV1 and Channel 4.

Digital TV news in brief...

Performance Channel owner Eicom has bought the Job Channel from MultiMedia Television for £1m... Germany's Premiere is to launch an international TV channel in September with programming for Turkish, Italian and Russian inhabitants... Channel 4 has given the racing and betting industries until the end of the week to decide whether to keep coverage of the sport on TV following lengthy negotiations about the TV rights... CNN is celebrating its 25th anniversary... Crown Castle has confirmed that Channel 4 has secured the latest vacant channel space on Freeview... The opening show of the sixth series of Channel 4's Big Brother managed to dominate viewing last week with a peak of 7 million viewers (35.5% share) at 10pm... BBC unions have threatened to continue with strike action after failing to agree a compromise on some 4,000 job cuts at the corporation.

Regards Satdude.
 
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