Satellite news 30.03.05

Satdude

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Satellite news 04.09.04

News

UK

NEW MOTHER AND BABY SERVICE ON S*y DIGITAL
BS*yB has launched what it describes as the UK's first
mother and baby information service on digital TV. New
and expectant parents will be able to access a range
of information about pregnancy and maternal care
through their TV via the Family Active service. The
service includes an instant messaging feature that
allows parents to contact each other and share
experiences by sending and receiving messages
on-screen, and allows users to search through an
information service. It also allows viewers to contact
a midwife direct with questions. Other features
include a searchable baby names directory and an
astrology guide.

TWI TO DISTRIBUTE PREMIER LEAGUE MATCHES GLOBALLY
TWI has been re-appointed by England's Football
Association Premier League to be its production
partner, producing and distributing all its matches of
the season for the overseas TV market. The
three-year-deal sees the creation of new venture FA
Premier League Productions, based in IMG division
TWI's UK production base in Chiswick, London. The new
venture will offer international licensees of the
Premier League all 380 matches of the season live via
satellite. It also covers annual production of 41
weekly preview shows and 33 highlight shows.

WILLIAM HILL TO LAUNCH DIGITAL TV CHANNEL
William Hill has appointed marketing communications
agency the Poulter Group to launch its digital betting
TV channel. The business is worth £250,000 for the
first year and is ongoing. The William Hill television
channel is scheduled to go live on S*y in October. It
will cover a range of sporting events and feature
betting opportunities, random numbers games and
virtual racing.

ITV GAMES SERVICE TO LAUNCH IN SEPTEMBER
GTV, the upcoming pay-per-play interactive games
service that the ITV network is launching on the UK's
S*y Digital, will go live next month, run by iTV
pioneer, PlayJam. OpenTV-owned PlayJam will manage the
service for ITV, has developed all games and is
managing all aspects of the service's broadcast.
Claiming to be the first UK terrestrial broadcaster to
offer its audience a tailor-made games service, ITV's
service will comprise of games based on various
programme brands, as well as non-ITV branded games.
GTV will offer S*y users quizzes, puzzles, pub- and
arcade-style games and payment goes through the user's
phone bill.

Europe

FRANCE

AL-MANAR TO APPLY FOR BROADCASTING RIGHTS
France's highest administrative body on August 20
ordered a Lebanese TV network linked to the
anti-Israel group Hezbollah to adhere to broadcast
regulations by October 1 or face being banned from
French airwaves. The Council of State said a decision
rests with France's media watchdog, the CSA, about
whether to give Al-Manar network a license it needs to
beam programs through a Paris-based satellite
broadcaster. The CSA had taken legal action to try to
force Al-Manar to halt broadcasts through the
satellite operator Eutelsat after Jewish groups
complained the network had aired an anti-Semitic
series. The Lebanese television station said it would
apply for broadcasting rights in France to avoid a
threatened ban.

E! TO LAUNCH ON CANAL SATELLITE
Entertainment news and lifestyle channel E! Networks
has signed a long-term distribution deal for the E!
International Network with Canalsatellite France,
which means the 24-hour entertainment network will now
be available in Europe's three largest television
markets, including Germany and Italy. "We look forward
to rolling out the next phase of the channel's
evolution in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe beginning
2005," said Kevin MacLellan, senior vp international
at E! Networks. Scheduled to launch in September, the
French language version of the E! International
Network will be carried on Channel 23 in the
Thematique DTH package, reaching France, Monaco and
Andorra. In addition E! will be available via Canal
Satelllite's new DSL service currently available in
Paris and Marseille.

BBC PRIME JOINS CANAL SATELLITE
BBC Prime, carrying drama, film and documentaries from
the UK public broadcaster, will launch on the French
pay-TV platform CanalSatellite from September 1.
CanalSatellite's 2.8 million subscribers will add to
the 19 million subscribers across Europe, the Middle
East and Africa. Programming includes Top of the Pops,
EastEnders and Weakest Link.

NEW PROGRAMS FOR CANAL PLUS
Pay-TV group Canal Plus on August 26 unveiled a slate
of ambitious new programming for its premium channel,
with the spotlight on premium movies, sports and news
programming. New programs include "La Semaine Du
Cinema" (The Week in Cinema), a half-hour
Sunday-afternoon slot devoted to French, American and
international cinema, with celebrity guests, trends,
events and the news of the week. Another film-related
slot that will air in December is "L'Evenementielle
Cinema" (Factual Cinema), during which a film
personality will discuss a film-related subject in
depth. "Avant Premiere" will feature films not yet
released in France, kicking off with Vadim Perelman's
"House of Sand and Fog" in October, while a "Making
of" slot starts September 12, with a behind-the-scenes
look at Steven Spielberg's latest work, "The
Terminal." The channel announced 14 new shows as well
as the return of U.S. programs "24" and "The Shield"
and two new offerings, "The L Word" and "Angels in
America." By the end of July, the channel's
subscribers stood at 4.88 million.

FRENCH GLOBAL ALL-NEWS CHANNEL BACK ON TRACK
France's plans for a global news channel, nicknamed
"CNN a la francaise," are back on track. Foreign
Minister Michel Barnier said on August 26 that plans
were on course for the TV network, personally backed
by President Jacques Chirac. International pubcasters
are concerned that their budgets will be slashed in
favour of the TF1-France Televisions joint project.

GERMANY

TV CHANNELS SHARE OLYMPIC COSTS
To help cut the cost of broadcasting rights for future
Olympic games, German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF
offered to share future coverage with commercial
broadcasting rivals. ZDF director Markus Schaechter
said he will begin negotiations in the coming weeks
with broadcasters interested in coverage of the 2006
winter games in Turin, Italy. Leading commercial
broadcaster RTL is the most likely candidate,
according to observers. ARD and ZDF already have
signed a similar cooperation agreement with RTL for
joint coverage of the 2006 soccer World Cup finals.

KDG GETS SUPPORT FOR CABLE DEAL
German cable giant Kabel Deutschland (KDG) won much-
needed industry support on August 26 as executives
from Universal Studios Networks Deutschland, MTV and
the state regulator from North Rhine-Westphalia backed
the group's expansion plans. Antitrust watchdogs are
concerned that KDG's $3.3 billion bid for three
regional cablers gives the group a cable monopoly.
Germany's main commercial broadcasters have lobbied
hard against the takeover, which would spur broadband
development nationwide and provide a platform for new
digital channels. Publicly, they have criticised KDG's
plans to encrypt transmission of terrestrial TV
channels, forcing households to get special access
cards for decoders to receive the outlets. For smaller
channels, such as USN's Sci Fi and 13th Street as well
as MTV, the cable expansion would provide greater
reach and more subscribers. KDG stands to grow from 10
million to more than 17 million homes if the deal is
approved.

BBC WORLD INCREASES GERMAN PRESENCE
The BBC's international news and current affairs
channel, BBC World is to double its penetration in
Germany, as Kabel Deutschland (KDG) goes nationwide.
BBC World will be included in KDG's main 24-channel
package, to be available from September, lifting the
platform's reach from 11 million cable homes to some
23 million. KDG's free digital cable offering, which
also includes public broadcasters ZDF and ARD, is
intended to drive Germany's digital uptake, in
anticipation of analogue switch-off in 2010. BBC World
also has a digital terrestrial frequency in the
Berlin/Brandenburg area, as well as in Italy, Sweden
and The Netherlands.

GREEN LIGHT FOR VIACOM-VIVA DEAL
Viacom said August 26 that it has finalized its
takeover of German music television group Viva Media,
taking a 75.8% stake in the Cologne, Germany-based TV
company for ?234 million. The deal, which has been
approved by German antitrust authorities, transfers
Time Warner's 30.6% Viva stake, Universal Music's
15.3% share and various smaller minority stakes to the
MTV parent. In a separate deal, Viacom acquired Time
Warner's 49% stake in Viva-TW joint venture Viva Plus,
an alternative-music cable channel.

IRELAND

COMMERCIAL BROADCASTERS COULD GET SLICE OF LICENSE FEE
Commercial broadcasters will be able to bid for an
?12.9 million slice of the licence fee from August 23
to produce culture and adult literacy programmes. The
Broadcasting Funding Scheme was launched to encourage
more commercial and state broadcasters to record
aspects of the state's heritage which are
disappearing. The three-year scheme will be financed
through the allocation of 5% of the annual television
licence fee, which amounted to ?8.3 million in 2003.
The commission will be hearing submissions from
interested parties, including independent broadcasters
and the public, over the next five-weeks on how the
annual scheme should be run. The initial consultation
document contains a draft outline of the structures,
programme themes and the eligibility for the scheme.

AT THE RACES SIGNS RIGHTS DEAL
Horse Racing Ireland and the Association of Irish
Racecourses have concluded a media rights contract
with At The Races. The agreement, which started on
June 11, is a four-and-a-half-year deal and gives At
The Races exclusive non-terrestrial picture and
interactive betting rights in the United Kingdom and
Ireland. The arrangements will also allow ATR to
include Irish racing content, on an exclusive basis,
in any product delivered into international pool
betting outlets as well as in channel form to
international pay television platforms.

RUSSIA

NTV SEEKS TO BOOST RATINGS
NTV television is to become federal not only in status
but in broadcasting area, accessible to viewers in any
part of the country. To achieve this goal, the
channel's signal needs to cover approximately 15 per
cent of the territory of Russia or approximately 30
million people. According to Izvestiya, NTV programmes
may be seen today by the inhabitants of 85 per cent of
the country's territory (117 million people), whereas
the area of coverage of other federal broadcasters
Channel One and Rossiya amounts to 98 per cent.

SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO

NATIONAL FREQUENCIES FOR 6 TV NETWORKS
Six TV broadcasters in Serbia are to be licensed as
national networks. Serbia's minister for culture and
the media, Dragan Kojadinovic, said that there had
also been a proposal that another two Serbian and two
federal frequencies be reserved for coverage of the
entire territory of Serbia and Montenegro. The six
companies to be licensed for national networks are the
three channels of state media company Radio Television
Serbia, BK TV, TV Pink and B92. The decision is based
on the economic power and program quality of the six
stations, said the minister. Another two national
Serbian frequencies would be available for television
stations in the regions to buy time and thus present
programs to a national audience. Kojadinovic quoted
research claiming that the total annual expenditure on
advertising in Serbia is about ?65 million, most of it
divided among that strongest and most popular
television networks.

Spain

SOGECABLE IN MIDST OF MOVIE RIGHTS ROW
The Ministry of Economy has accused pay-TV company
Sogecable of hindering competition as a result of its
exclusive agreements with six US majors, Twentieth
Century Fox, Buena Vista, Universal Studios, Paramount
Pictures, Columbia Tristar and Warner Bros. According
to the Ministry, each of these contracts, because of
their duration and reach, represent "a restriction of
competition" and "hinder the access from other pay-TV
operators to the same contents which are regarded as
being essential for the service." The report is the
result of a claim filed on December 2002 by cable
operator ONO that accused Sogecable and US Majors of
breaking competition law as a result of their
exclusive agreements. Sogecable has already appealed
and now the case will be studied by the Court of
Competition Defence.

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Satellite news 16.09.04

News

UNITED KINGDOM

HOMECHOICE IN TALKS WITH GOVERNMENT OVER DIGITAL TV
Video Networks, which relaunched its video-on-demand
television service HomeChoice in May, is in talks with
the Government about offering subsidised digital
television services to help the planned analogue
switch-off. The Government wants to turn off analogue
signals by 2012, when it hopes the nation's households
will have converted to digital TV, via cable,
satellite or ordinary aerials. But with existing
technology, this may not be possible. Over the summer,
Video Networks chief executive, Roger Lynch, has had
several meetings with Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of
State for Media, and BBC officials about how to reach
those households which may be unable - or unwilling -
to go digital. HomeChoice allows viewers to watch
television via broadband. As well as providing
internet access, it offers digital channels and
archived content - or "video on demand" - which is
"called down" the broadband network by the viewer.
With government help, Video Networks could launch a
slimmed-down, cheaper package of around 20 digital
channels which could be broadcast via telephone wires
as opposed to broadband, Lynch said. HomeChoice could
be useful in blocks of flats where ordinary
terrestrial aerials cannot be converted to Freeview
and satellite dishes cannot be fitted, he said.

BBC WORLDWIDE NOT FOR SALE
The BBC on September 8 dismissed reports that it is in
talks with big media groups including Time Warner,
Bertelsmann and the Walt Disney Co. to sell off its
commercial sales division BBC Worldwide.
Representatives for the public broadcaster poured cold
water on the suggestion that the $3 billion division
-- which includes three joint venture channels, a
program sales arm, a consumer magazine publishing
business and the international channels BBC America
and BBC World -- was being touted for sale. "BBC
Worldwide is categorically not for sale. There is no
question that we are asking anybody to table bids," a
spokeswoman said. UK press reports had mentioned that
the BBC had written to more than 25 potential bidders
and organisations interested in its commercial assets,
soliciting their views on the future of the business.

ITV3 TO LAUNCH ON NOVEMBER
ITV's over-35s station, ITV3, will launch on November
1 - but only Freeview customers, less than a third of
the total digital audience, will be able to tune in.
ITV has yet to sort out a slot for the channel with
cable giants NTL and Telewest and has been told by
BSkyB there is no space for it on the Sky Digital
satellite platform. The ITV chief executive, Charles
Allen, said today he was still in negotiations with
cable bosses but has yet to start talking to Sky about
a satellite slot. The limited distribution threatens
to get the new channel, which is costing £12 million a
year, off to a slow start. ITV is targeting the
over-35s with a mix of drama, films and repeated
entertainment shows. Allen said there would be three
"premium movies" a week on ITV3, as well as
behind-the-scenes programmes related to ITV1 shows.
Other programming will include repeats of Parkinson
and Today with Des and Mel, and omnibus editions of
The Bill. ITV is launching the channel to run
alongside its more youth-oriented ITV2 channel, where
the budget is being increased from £24 million to £48
million.

WILLIAM HILL TV TO LAUNCH INTERACTIVE TV
William Hill has announced that its new digital
interactive television service, Channel 425, will be
available, free to view, on the Sky platform from
October 6. The initial focus of the channel is to
capitalise on the strong fan base for UK greyhound
racing that has developed through Sky's coverage of
the sport in recent years with other betting
opportunities being provided by live US horseracing
and a number of simple random number generated
products. Initially set to show live greyhound racing
from Tuesday through to Saturday nights inclusive,
Channel 425 will launch with a series of minor
competitions from its two tracks at Brough Park and
Sunderland. The honour of screening the first race of
the new channel, the Welcome to Greyhound Racing On
Channel 425 Stakes (coincidentally worth £425 to the
winner), will fall to Sunderland. It is expected that
the channel will move to providing live greyhound
racing seven days a week within a matter of months and
talks are already underway to bring other live
sporting content to the channel as well.

ITV PROFITS UP
The broadcasting group ITV posted a 42-per cent
increase in half-year profits, with first-half
advertising revenues from all ITV channels improving
by 4.9% on 2003 and estimated to be up 5.5% in the
current quarter. Chief executive Charles Allen pledged
to raise the target from £100 million a year to £120
million but did not provide details of how the extra
savings would be achieved. ITV said operating profits
for the first half of 2004 rose 32% on a year earlier
to £123 million while bottom-line pre-tax profits came
in at £132 million. Meanwhile, ITV said on September 9
it did not intend to sell its stakes in SMG, the
Scottish broadcaster, GMTV, ITN and Ireland's TV3 as
part of an asset disposal likely to raise more than
£500 million.

NINE MILLION VIEWERS FOR BBC OLYMPIC COVERAGE
The BBC's interactive Olympics coverage reached 8.96
million users in satellite homes. The number
represents viewers that used the BBC interactive
Olympics service for more than a minute at some time
during the two week event. Senior BBC executives were
reportedly amazed by the figure, which compares very
favourably to the 4.1 million that accessed the
Wimbledon interactive service and 3.4 million that
sampled the interactive coverage of the Commonwealth
Games. The number is a significant gain on the 6.13
million users reported for the first week of the
Olympics. These numbers exclude digital terrestrial
and cable television for which interactive usage data
is currently unavailable. Some 7 million UK homes have
digital satellite television, while around 3.5 million
have digital terrestrial television, and about 2.5
million have digital cable.

E U R O P E

ZONE VISION SIGNS CARRIAGE DEALS
Zone Vision's has secured distribution on UPC in
Slovakia and MTIS in Belarus for both its Reality TV
and Romantica channels. In Hungary, European movie
channel Europa Europa has been added to the EMKTV and
UPC cable systems. In Russia, Reality TV will be
broadcast on UCN and Romanian cable operator Astral
has renewed its contract to carry both Reality TV and
Romantica. As a result of these agreements, the
channels will reach an additional 1.1 million
subscribers throughout the region. Zone Vision has
also signed a channel representation deal with BBC
Prime for Eastern Europe and recently secured a
distribution deal for the new channel in Romania.

BELGIUM

BELGACOM SEEKS FOOTBALL RIGHTS
Telecommunications operator Belgacom is considering
bidding for next season's Belgian domestic club
football rights, the country's professional football
league said on September 9. Belgacom plans to roll out
interactive digital television in 2005, broadcast
through fixed telephone lines. Most Belgians already
subscribe to a cable service. Belgacom spokesman Jan
Margot did not want to comment on a possible bid,
saying consumer trials of the new television service
were not due to start until November. "We are
targeting all possible partners. We will look at how
people will use (digital television) and what they are
willing to pay," he said. Belgian cable company
Telenet also plans to offer digital television.
Belgian soccer clubs raised ?15 million in 2002 from
the sale of three years of television rights but
Sterckx hopes to get significantly more this time. If
Belgacom submits a formal bid, it will face
established broadcasters including publicly owned RTBF
and VRT, Vivendi Universal's Canal Plus and Flemish
commercial channel VTM.

FRANCE

CANALSATELLITE EXPANDS DSL SERVICE
Harmonic Inc. on September 9 announced that
CanalSatellite, part of CANAL+ Group which is a
VivendiUniversal company, has deployed Harmonic's
high-performance digital video headend systems to
efficiently deliver premium programming for the
CANALSATDSL TV- over-ADSL service. The ultra-low
bit-rate capabilities of Harmonic's DiviCom MV 100
encoder make it possible for CanalSatellite, France's
leading satellite distribution and direct-to-home
broadcaster, to transport broadcast-quality video over
a variety of telecom transport networks. The recently
introduced CANALSATDSL service offers 80 channels of
broadcast-quality television to ADSL subscribers via
the IP and ATM backbone networks of their telecom
partners. CanalSatellite, a 66% Canal+ Group
subsidiary, is the leader in digital pay-TV in France
with 2.83 million subscriptions at the end of June
2004. CanalSatellite offers over 260 channels and
services across all genres -- cinema, sport and
information as well as channels for young adults and
children.

TPS SIGNS UP 1.5 MILLION SUBSCRIBERS
Satellite pay-TV platform TPS had 1.56 million
subscribers as of 30 June this year, with sales up 8%
to ?282 million and a reduction of the debt of ?42
million during the 12 months to June 2004. The number
of subscribers to TPS-L, the ADSL delivered version of
the TPS bouquet which opened earlier this year, is
about 10,000 with an aim of reaching 50,000 by year
end. If achieved, this should bring the total number
of new clients to TPS to 100,000 in the year. The
entry level pay-TV package will remain at ?11 a month,
but a new movie package TPS Star Premium will cost
?19.50 a month.

FOX PURCHASES VOYAGE CHANNEL
Fox International Channels (FIC) has concluded the
acquisition of French travel channel Voyage from
Pathé. "We are delighted and proud that our business
in France has expanded with the acquisition of Voyage,
a very strong TV brand well capitalized upon by Pathé
and a fine example of high quality French-produced
television," noted David Haslingden, the CEO of FIC.

GERMANY

SES ASTRA AND PREMIERE TO LAUNCH HDTV CHANNELS
Premiere is to start broadcasting its first programmes
in high-definition TV format (HDTV) from 1 November
2005 onwards. The Munich-based pay-TV operator will
transmit HDTV content on three dedicated channels for
sport, film and documentaries. The programmes will be
broadcast in digital format via the ASTRA satellite
system at 19.2 degrees East. This has been agreed in
principle between Premiere and SES ASTRA. Premiere
also later intends to introduce its HDTV package on
cable networks. At present, the technical
specifications for HDTV receivers suitable for
Premiere are being set up. The marketing of HDTV
receivers suitable for Premiere is scheduled to begin
during the run-up to the Christmas season 2005.

HARMONIC ADOPTS HARMONIC DVB
Harmonic Inc. announced that Digital Playout Center
(DPC), a subsidiary of Premiere Fernsehen, has
deployed an integrated, standards-based content
protection and service management solution from
Harmonic. DPC, Germany's largest satellite
broadcaster, is using Harmonic's award-winning
Broadcast Network Gateway (BNG) and NMX Digital
Service Manager to increase the security and
availability of its digital TV service. This
DVB-compliant solution is compatible with DPC's
existing headend and customer premises equipment,
bringing greater operational control and flexibility
while ensuring a seamless customer experience. The
DPC, a subsidiary of Premiere Fernsehen, operates one
of the most modern transmission centers in Europe.
Today, the broadcast center transmits by satellite
more than 100 digital TV and radio channels as well as
data services for Premiere. In addition to
transporting content for Premiere, DPC also transmits
programming for ProSiebenSat.1 Media, Home Shopping
Europe HSE 24, German sport television DSF, use Tele
5, 9Live and many others.

HUNGARY

SBS TO LAUNCH SECOND TV CHANNEL
SBS Broadcasting will launch Irisz, its second
television channel in the Hungarian market, on
September 13, and will be broadcast from 18:00 to
23:00 on the Hungarian feed of Club, a television
channel dedicated to women's entertainment. Irisz will
initially reach approximately 680,000 homes through
cable carriage on UPC Hungary, Hungary's largest cable
operator, and other local networks. Irisz will be a
female entertainment channel broadcast in the
Hungarian language and focused on the key 18-49 female
audience. Its programming schedule will complement
Club's female focus and leverage SBS's Hungarian
library. Irisz will consist of a mixture of popular
local productions and international programming. The
channel will be programmed and broadcast under a Dutch
broadcasting license. Launched in 1999, Club is a
television channel dedicated to women's entertainment
and is available in 20 countries across Europe and in
nine languages.

TURKEY

DIGITURK OPTS FOR UNIVERSAL ELECTRONICS
Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI) on September 9
announced it has entered into an agreement through its
wholly owned subsidiary Universal Electronics to
exclusively provide the Omega and Zapper remote
controls for DIGITURK's new interactive set-top box.
DIGITURK, the largest subscription satellite
television operator in Turkey, plans to distribute
these set-top boxes to customers starting in August.
DIGITURK broadcasts over the Eutelsat WA satellite
since the beginning of April 2000 and has more than
122 channels today. Since operations began in March
2000, DIGITURK has grown to over 700,000 subscribers,
with the total number of homes serviced in two years
exceeding 3 million.

SWEDEN

MTG FILES SUIT CANAL DIGITAL
Modern Times Group has filed suit against Sweden's
Canal Digital, alleging that the platform has been
carrying Viasat Broadcasting's TV3, ZTV and TV8
without authorization. Viasat has applied to the
Swedish Market Court, seeking to block Canal Digital
from using reference to the three channels in its
marketing materials. Swedish viewers who want access
to the three channels can subscribe to Boxer's digital
terrestrial television pay-TV package. Albrecht added,
"We launched a new offer in Sweden last week enabling
viewers to subscribe to Viasat's pay-TV services in
the most simple and inexpensive way ever. New
subscribers signing up for Viasat's premium pay-TV
package in Sweden, Viasat Gold, now receive a free
dish, a free digital decoder and free installation."

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Satellite news 22.09.04

News

UK

OFCOM SETS ANALOGUE SWITCH-OFF DATE
The countdown to analogue switch-off could begin as
early as 2007 and terrestrial broadcasters must turn
off analogue signals by the end of 2012, media and
communications regulator Office of Communications
(Ofcom) said on September 14. About half the United
Kingdom's 22 million homes currently have some form of
digital television, but the announcement means that
second and third sets in many of these homes, as well
as the 11 million or so homes that have yet to adopt
any digital technology, will have to complete the
changeover process within seven years. "Progress has
been made in discussion between the government, Ofcom
and the public service broadcasters on the timing for
digital switch-over. ... 2012 may be the most
appropriate date for switch-over completion. This
could mean beginning the switching sequence as early
as 2007," Ofcom said in a statement.

BS*yB HANDS OVER MUSIC CHANNELS TO CHART SHOW
BS*yB said on September 14 that it had handed over the
running of its three branded-music channels to a rival
in a bid to reduce costs. Indie-themed Amp, rock
channel Scuzz and pop network Flaunt will now be
managed by music channel specialist Chart Show
Channels, following a review of the struggling brands
by S*y Networks program head Dawn Airey. CSC, which
operates pop channel Chart Show TV, retro channel the
Vault and Bollywood network B4, will manage editorial
content and the day-to-day running for the S*y
channels, but ownership will remain with the satellite
broadcaster.

BBC CRITICISED OVER TOO MUCH U.S. MOVIES
The BBC has come under attack for spending less than
£10 million on buying British films - out of a total
movie budget of more than £70 million. Film-makers on
September 14 accused the corporation of being biased
in favour of US movies over homegrown releases. In the
last financial year, out of 912 films shown on BBC1
and BBC2 only 180 of them were British, of which
two-thirds were more than 25 years old. Producers are
also calling on the BBC to increase its funding of
British feature films through its BBC Films arm, run
by Alan Yentob. The corporation spent around £10
million on UK film investment in the year to April
2004 - less than 0.4% of its licence fee income. The
BBC spent £9.9 million buying UK films in the 12
months to April 2004, down from £13.8 million in the
previous 12 months, according to research commissioned
from David Graham & Associates. Spending on American
films rose by more than 50% over the same period, from
£39.3 million to £61.5 million. Spending on films from
the rest of the world amounted to £1.8 million.

ITV SIGNS UP FOR ASTRA TRANSPONDERS
SES ASTRA has clinched an important two-transponder
deal with ITV, the UK's biggest commercial television
network. ITV, which already has three ASTRA
transponders, will use the additional capacity to
expand its digital offer including more regional and
interactive services. The agreement demonstrates the
strong UK demand for the 28.2 degrees orbital slot and
confirms SES ASTRA and Britain's position as the key
players in the European satellite market. ITV is the
biggest commercial television network in the UK and
ITV1 is Britain's most popular commercial TV channel
with an average weekly audience of 45 million. ITV1 is
also the UK's regional channel, broadcasting more than
6000 hours of original programming each year and
around half of this output is made outside the M25.
ITV2 is the company's younger entertainment channel
and in 2003 it was the UK's fastest growing digital
channel.

NTL BROADCAST TRANSMITS THE MOVE CHANNEL
NTL Broadcast has signed a five year deal with The
Move Channel to provide an end-to-end channel
management package that includes space segment on
Eurobird, providing access to S*y Digital. The Move
Channel therefore becomes NTL Broadcast's first
customer for it newly acquired Eurobird 1
direct-to-home capacity. The contract includes offices
and play out from NTL's Broadcast Media Centre, fibre
connectivity to the company's Winchester teleport,
uplinking and space segment. The new channel started
broadcasting on September 13. The Move Channel, a
venture of The Move Channel TV, will be a property
information channel on digital satellite, catering for
people needing information about properties and
related services. NTL Broadcast announced in June that
it had secured a transponder lease on the Eurobird 1
satellite located at the popular 28.5 degrees East
slot, enabling the company to offer competitive
end-to-end services to new channel entrants on the S*y
Digital platform. NTL Broadcast already operates
shared multiplexes on Transponders 13, 18, 22 and 37
on Astra 2A, and Transponder 17 on Astra 2B. In total,
the company provides full-time transmission for around
160 TV channels, increasingly adding play out and
other services from its Broadcast Media Centre at
Feltham in west London.

SCOTTISH BORDERS PREPARE FOR ANALOGUE SWITCH-OFF
Hundreds of thousands of residents of the Scottish
borders are to lose their normal TV service after
media watchdog Ofcom earmarked the region as the first
in Britain to have its analogue signal switched off
completely. It means that the regular over-the-air
analogue services will be phased out and only those
who are connected to digital services on satellite,
cable or the terrestrial digital service, Freeview
will be able to watch TV. The area - which covers the
western area of the British Isles from the north of
the Lake District in England to southern Scotland and
also includes the Isle of Man - has a population of
just 450,000 and includes just one major city,
Carlisle. Several areas had previously been mooted as
potential test beds for the switchover, including the
Channel Islands and south London. The border region
has almost certainly been chosen as the first to be
pencilled in for switchover because of its small
population and the fact that it is covered by distinct
transmitters that don't "bleed" into other regions. A
pilot project in Wales will see the residents of two
Carmarthenshire villages, Ferryside and Llansteffan,
become the first in Britain to have analogue
terrestrial transmissions switched off and replaced by
digital signals in Spring next year. The trial numbers
only several hundred houses and all those not
converted to digital sets will receive a Freeview
set-top box free of charge.

TALKSPORT TO LAUNCH TV CHANNEL
TalkSPORT is planning to launch a national TV service
on S*y Digital as radio stations continue their
migration onto the small screen. Kiss FM, Radio 1 and
other stations are fixtures on S*y and Freeview, but
only as audio services. TalkSPORT, the national AM
station owned by the Wireless Group, said it was in
talks with BS*yB to launch a TV channel by the end of
next month. Kelvin MacKenzie, chief executive of the
Wireless Group, said TalkSPORT TV will broadcast in a
daily six-hour slot initially, but hopes to launch a
24-hour service in the new year. The channel will cost
no more than £500,000 a year to run, reflecting a
stripped-down service that will broadcast live footage
of TalkSPORT presenters and pundits in the studio.
MacKenzie downplayed the company's TV ambitions,
describing the move as "a marketing tool".

CHANNEL 4 BUYS TWO TRANSPONDERS FROM ASTRA
SES ASTRA has further strengthened its position as the
UK's leading direct-to-home (DTH) satellite company
with a major two-transponder contract with Channel 4.
It is SES ASTRA's first direct deal with the British
terrestrial channel, and the transmission capacity
will be used across a variety of Channel 4's digital
channels as well as its extensive range of associated
interactive TV applications. Channel 4 was created by
Act of Parliament in 1982 and broadcasts across the
entire UK with the exception of some parts of Wales,
which are covered by the Welsh language S4C. It is
available on all digital platforms - terrestrial,
satellite and cable - and via conventional analogue
transmission. In addition to Channel 4, the Channel
Four Group runs a number of pay channels including the
E4 entertainment channel, E4+1 and three film
channels.

NTL GETS FIRST ASTRA TRANSPONDER
SES ASTRA has announced its first transponder contract
with the Broadcast division of communications giant
ntl. The agreement gives ntl additional capacity in
the rapidly expanding UK market for small channel
launches. The deal allows ntl to offer a seamless
one-stop-shop solution including studio facilities and
play out services from its Broadcast Media Centre at
Feltham, contribution links, and the ASTRA 28.2
degrees East satellite uplink and downlink. It will be
of particular interest to new broadcasters and
satellite channel start-ups. ntl's Broadcast division
uplinks around 150 services from three teleports in
London and Hampshire.

FREEVIEW VIEWERS UP 2%
Communications watchdog Ofcom has updated its digital
penetration figures for Q2 2004, with the overall
digital uptake rising 2% since the previous quarter to
55% of all UK homes. Digital TV is now in 13.7 million
homes, with 630,000 new households buying into the new
technology in the three months to June 30. Combined
with the 4% of homes still using analogue cable,
multichannel penetration stands at 59%. Platform-by
platform, uptake of free-to-air DTT service Freeview
increased by 12.1%, with the total number of
households receiving the BBC-backed service now
estimated to be around 3.89 million. Furthermore, the
number of free-to-air digital users rose to 4.2
million, an increase of 13.4% from the previous
quarter.

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Satellite news 27.09.04

News

United Kingdom

BORDER TV TO BECOME ALL DIGITAL
Sparsely populated Border TV region has emerged as
favourite to be the digital television guinea pig for
the UK, but large parts of the area, including much of
West Cumbria, still cannot receive the digital
terrestrial signal. Thousands of TV sets and videos
would be rendered useless without digital Freeview
boxes when the analogue signal is turned off. And
research shows only 43 per cent of Cumbrian households
have satellite TV, which will continue work after the
switchover. Freeview boxes currently retail at
Ł50 upwards and one digital box will be needed
for each TV set in the home. This week it emerged that
the regular over-the-air analogue services will be
phased out nationwide by 2012. The Government has
always vowed not to switch off the analogue network
until the majority of homes have upgraded to digital.
But some believe the Border region will be used to
find out what level of uptake is politically
acceptable.

ITV SELLS THOMSON STAKE
ITV has sold its stake in Thomson, the French media
and information group. According to the Financial
Times, ITV has agreed to sell 5.5 per cent of Thomson,
with a book value of £162 million, to the investment
banks Citigroup and UBS. ITV said it will use the
proceeds to pay down its debt. This is ITV's second
sale of non-core businesses. The first was Carlton
Books in August.

CEEFAX CELEBRATES 30TH BIRTHDAY
The BBC's teletext service - Ceefax - celebrated its
30th anniversary this week. Launched on September 23,
1974, Ceefax was developed by BBC broadcast engineers
who were working on ways of providing subtitles for
the deaf. They found that a normal television picture
of 625 lines has "spare" lines at the top of the
picture that could be used to transmit words or
numbers. The first time the public heard the name
Ceefax - which stands for See-Facts - was late in
1972, in advance of the first experimental
transmissions. It went live in 1974 but one of the
early problems was it cost more than £300 to buy a
decoder and £700 for a new set. But as prices dropped,
demand grew and by 1985, the number of TV sets with
access to Ceefax was more than two million. The
service now has more than 20 million viewers a week.

FOOTBALL LEAGUE TO SUE OVER ITV DIGITAL DEAL
The Football League is launching legal action against
the solicitors who advised them on the ITV Digital
deal that fell apart in 2002. Many clubs outside the
top flight were left in financial limbo after ITV
Digital went into administration in March of that year
owing £178.5 million for the remaining two seasons of
its contract with the League. Some clubs ended up in
administration as a result and the League are now
suing law firm Hammonds Solicitors for alleged
negligence or breach of contract. Sir Brian Mawhinney,
the Football League chairman, has confirmed that High
Court proceedings have been issued against Hammonds,
previously known as Edge Ellison, the legal advisors
to the League during contract negotiations with ITV
Digital in 2000. The last legal action by the League
over the ITV Digital contract ended in defeat two
years ago when they failed in their efforts to make
ITV parent companies Carlton and Granada pay up
instead. The deal struck in June 2000 gave ONDigital
the right to broadcast Football League matches for
three seasons from 2001/2 but in the already-inflated
TV market it proved prohibitively costly. Television
audiences for matches were often outnumbered by crowds
at the games and the TV channel collapsed after less
than a season.

BT TAKES ON BS*yB
BT is to go head-to-head with BS*yB in the pay-TV
markets by launching its own digital set-top box in
conjunction with Freeview. The telecoms giant will
this week begin trials of the box, initally dubbed "BT
Freeview Plus", which will provide customers with
digital TV through a conventional TV aerial and
video-on-demand through a broadband internet
connection. It will become the central element in BT's
"new wave" strategy, which seeks to replace declining
revenues from traditional services, such as fixed-line
phonecalls, with new services such as broadband
Internet. The hybrid TV/internet device will cost
marginally more than existing Freeview boxes, which
retail at around £50. But customers will be able to
pay to download films and thousands of programmes
using their BT broadband internet connection. BT has
already secured the support of the BBC and a number of
other broadcasters for the service. TV stations that
already broadcast on Freeview include Channel 4, Five,
Ideal World, FTN, QVC, and the Community Channel.
Unlike the S*y Plus box, BT Freeview Plus will not
have a hard disk, so it will be able to record and
store downloaded programmes. Trials of BT Freeview
Plus will begin this week with just a few hundred
pre-selected customers. Subcribers will be slowly
built up over the next few months with a full
commercial launch planned for next summer.

INMEDIA LAUNCHES ADVERT CHANNEL
The Advert Channel has signed a three-year contract
with independent global communications company,
Inmedia, that will see Britain get its first 24 hour
TV station dedicated solely to airing adverts.
Broadcasting on the S*y digital satellite channel 694,
the Advert Channel is dedicated to bringing viewers
the best (and worst) TV adverts from around the world,
with a focus on adverts as a form of entertainment,
culture and from an artistic and creative aspect.
Programmes on the station will include Ad Chat, where
presenters will chat live about the top TV adverts;
Advert Focus, looking at ads making the news; Adverts
for You, featuring the adverts that make you laugh,
cry and those that are controversial; and Adverts
Today, a behind-the-scenes look at how top adverts are
made. Themed shows will focus on commercials of a
certain era and segments, such as ads from the 60's,
70's, 80's and 90's, late night adverts, sports and
celebrity adverts. The deal will ensure the smooth
delivery of the new channel's 24 hour programming to
S*y's 7.3 million subscribers using Inmedia's
fully-managed playout and satellite uplinking via its
Eurobird transponder.

E U R O P E


FRANCE

FOOTBALL TV RIGHTS PROCESS INITIATES
France's football league, the Ligue de Football
Professionnel, said potential bidders for rights to
broadcast top-flight French football matches over the
next three years have until the end of this month to
declare their interest in taking part in an upcoming
auction of the rights. In a legal notice posted on the
league's web site, the LFP said it will launch the
auction "in the next few weeks". The main contenders
for the rights are expected to be Canal Plus, Vivendi
Universal's pay-TV unit, and TPS, a digital TV
platform jointly-owned by TF1 and M6. Analysts say
fierce competition between the two main bidders could
push the price of the rights to over ?500 million.
Under the current deal, Canal Plus holds most of the
rights in a package worth around ?365 million.

FRENCH INTERESTED IN BRITISH DTT MODEL
A French government delegation met on September 22
British ministerial counterparts and broadcasters to
discuss applying UK's model for digital TV services in
France. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, the French culture
minister, is also due for talks at Ofcom, the media
regulator, over the timetable for switching off
analogue signals in favour of multi-channel digital TV
transmissions. The French government has set a target
to achieve 35 per cent digital TV penetration by March
2005, rising to 85 per cent by 2007.

GERMANY

KABEL DEUTSCHLAND DROPS TAKEOVER ATTEMPT
German cable giant Kabel Deutschland (KDG) said on
September 22 that it has dropped its $3.3 billion
takeover attempt of three regional cable companies
after failing to receive regulatory approval for the
deal. KDG had planned to buy out regional operators
Ish Iesy and Kabel Baden-Wuerttemberg in a deal that
would have given the company a virtual monopoly on the
German market and up KDG's subscriber base from 7
million to 17 million customers. The deal appeared to
be dead after Germany's antitrust watchdog expressed
reservations in August. The authorities said they were
worried that KDG was not willing to invest enough to
develop high-speed Internet and cable telephony
services -- one of the main reasons the federal
watchdog rejected John Malone's bid for six German
cable networks two years ago. KDG had offered to
invest more than $2 billion over the next 10 years in
Internet and telephone services.

SABAN TO TAKE MAJORITY STAKE IN PROSIEBENSAT.1
Haim Saban will gain a majority stake in broadcaster
ProSiebenSat.1 following an agreement with media
company KirchMedia. The group of Saban and five
private equity firms will raise its stake to 50.5 per
cent from 37.6 per cent, as KirchMedia's unit Taurus
TV sells a 12.9 per cent stake to finance payments to
creditors Axel Springer and Universal Studios. Saban,
took control of ProSiebenSat.1 in August 2003 by
buying a 36 per cent stake, with 72 per cent of the
voting rights, from bankrupt KirchMedia. Meanwhile,
the administrator of KirchMedia announced that the
company's unit Taurus TV has ended insolvency
proceedings after reaching an agreement with
creditors. Universal Studios, owned by General
Electric, will receive a 'confidential payment,'
KirchMedia said. Europe's largest newspaper publisher
Axel Springer, will get 1.8 per cent of ProSiebenSat.1
shares from Kirch, increasing its stake in TV
broadcaster from 10.2 per cent to 12 per cent, as part
of a settlement and will also get ?60.3 million from
Kirch.

HISTORY AND NEW DISNEY CHANNELS PLANNED
After a general meeting of regional media regulators,
the AETN German subsidiary The History Channel has
obtained a licence to broadcast in the country. The
channel, which will be part of cable operator KDG's
digital bouquet, is launching September 27. KDG
reaches over 10 million homes of which currently
100,000 have subscribed to digital offers. In
addition, Disney's German unit has been licensed to
provide new thematic channels. Buena Vista Germany
intends to launch its classic animation channel 'Toon
Disney' and its pre-school offer 'Playhouse Disney',
after securing long term agreements with pay-TV
platforms.

ITALY

NEWS CORP TO BECOME SOLE OWNER OF S*y ITALIA
News Corp. Ltd should reach a deal on September 28 to
buy the remaining 20% of pay-TV broadcaster S*y Italia
it doesn't already own from Telecom Italia, a person
familiar with the situation told Dow Jones Newswires.
"The two companies are working to close the deal on
September 28 for the agreed price of ?88 million," the
person said.

RUSSIA

CTC PREPARES SECOND NETWORK
The country's leading private commercial television
network, CTC, is set to spend $100 million on building
a new second-tier entertainment network. The
as-yet-unnamed network will target women viewers and a
broader age range than its current core youth
audience, CTC president and CEO Alexander RodnyanS*y
said on September 22. The new network -- which will
launch in the spring -- will be based around a core of
four stations recently purchased in Moscow, St.
Petersburg, Perm and Kazan, and comes as part of a
strategic market restructuring that includes a change
of name for the network's parent company from
StoryFirst Communications to CTC Media.

DIGITAL TV IN MOSCOW IN TWO YEARS
Digital television will come to Moscow in two years,
Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network
Director Gennady Sklyar said. He pointed out that
there was just one digital transmitter for channel 32
on the Ostankino television tower. However, Pavel
Komarov, the Deputy General Director of the Ostankino
television tower, noted that some 4 to 5 new digital
channels would be launched by the end of 2004. A $1
million transmitter for Channel One, which is capable
of broadcasting programs in digital format, was
launched on November 1, 2003. However, this
transmitter is not used in a digital mode since there
are no legal procedures on transferring from analogue
to digital television broadcast.

SPAIN

SOGECABLE TO INVEST IN SPANISH MOVIES
Pay-TV operator Sogecable said on September 21 that it
has reached landmark deals with some of the country's
independent distributors for specific titles to
complete its programming lineup. The deals end a
drought for acquisitions by the Spanish giant for
content from Spanish distributors brought on by the
backlog of titles after the merger of Sogecable and
rival platform Via Digital last year. The deals --
signed with Golem, Vertigo, Wanda, Musidora and Alta
Films -- are for as many as a dozen specific, already
released titles with distributors that Sogecable felt
are key to completing its quality programming slate.

PRISA TO INCREASE SOGECABLE STAKE
Media group Prisa confirmed it is going to raise its
shares in pay-TV group Sogecable up to 24 per cent
over the next months. Announcing the news, CEO Juan
Luis Cebrian, said that the move is aimed at "making
our presence in Sogecable the same as Telefonica", so
keeping the balance of power within the company.
Currently, Prisa holds 22 per cent in the pay-TV
group. Since the merger between the two digital DTH
platforms, Canal Satelite and Via Digital to create
Digital Plus, in June 2003, Prisa has increased its
shares several times, from the initial 16 per cent up
to the present 22 per cent.

SWEDEN

VIASAT SUCCESSFUL IN COURT AGAINST CANAL DIGITAL
Modern Times Group on September 23 announced that its
application to the Swedish Market Court for a court
injunction to prohibit Canal Digital from mentioning
Viasat's TV3, ZTV and TV8 entertainment channels in
its marketing material has had the desired result.
Canal Digital has notified the Market Court that it
has changed its marketing accordingly and has assured
the Court that the Viasat Channels will not be used in
future marketing campaigns or materials. No injunction
is therefore required at this time. The Viasat
channels therefore continue to be available only to
subscribers on the Viasat DTH satellite platform, the
Boxer digital terrestrial network in Sweden and cable
networks with which Viasat has agreements.

TURKEY

TRT MOST POPULAR TV CHANNEL
According to a public poll conducted by the
state-owned Turkish Radio and Television Corporation
(TRT), they are the most watched television channel in
the country. The results of the face to face survey
conducted on 2,140 people in 15 cities in May and June
show that 97.3 per cent of people watch TV, and TRT
was the most watched channel with 17 per cent. Show TV
followed with 14.1 per cent, ATV with 13.9 per cent,
Kanal D with 13.1 and Star TV with 8.4 per cent. TRT
shows between 6 and 9 p.m. were the ones most watched,
with culture and magazine programs being the most
popular, noted the poll. Of those polled, 72.87 per
cent listed the travel documentary "Gezelim Gorelim"
as their favorite program on the channel, while the
local music show "Yorelerimiz Turkulerimiz" came
second with 64.49 per cent. The dramas on TRT were
also very popular among those polled. When asked what
type of programs they wanted to watch on TV, 18.6 per
cent said foreign movies and documentaries. More local
dramas came second with 18.1 per cent. When asked
about which news programs they watched, TRT was also
the most popular. TRT news programs were watched by 33
per cent, while ATV received 15, Kanal D 13.4 and Show
TV 11.6 per cent. Among channels that exclusively
broadcast news, NTV was the most popular with 48.3 per
cent, followed by CNN-Turk with 28.9 and TRT-2 with
15.8 per cent. When asked how trustworthy they found
the TV channels, participants' answer showed that the
TRT-1 was the most trusted, with 32.8 per cent,
followed by NTV (14 per cent), CNN-Turk (8.8 per
cent), ATV (7.7 per cent), Kanal 7 (7.1 per cent) and
TRT-2 (5.9 per cent).

Regards Satdude. :D
 

Satdude

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Satellite news 04.10.04

News

UK

OFCOM PROPOSES NEW PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTER
Media regulator Ofcom is proposing the introduction of
a new TV channel to broadcast public service
programmes in the UK. The new network could cost
around £300 million a year to run, the watchdog said.
Ofcom's ideas are set out in its second interim report
on public service broadcasting (PS:cool:, with a final
review to be published at the end of the year. Channel
4 will be a "critical second provider" of public
service broadcasting alongside the BBC, Ofcom says.
Meanwhile ITV1 will be allowed to phase out its
regional non-news programmes, with some of those
responsibilities passing to the BBC. The BBC should
continue to be paid for through the licence fee "as
long as it retains broad public support" and
contributes to society. Ofcom says advertising and
direct government funding should be ruled out for the
BBC but says the nature of the TV licence fee could
change in the future. It suggests three "realistic"
ways to fund the new public service channel, as public
service broadcasting in general. Licence fee payers
could be charged an "enhanced" fee, taxpayers could
pay through a government grant or UK broadcasters
could be taxed on their turnover.

EEEZEE TV PLANS HOME SHOPPING VENTURE
Kleeneze, the home shopping specialist, has announced
an investment of some £4 million over two years in a
joint venture TV shopping channel carried on S*y
Digital channel 664. The channel, which the group has
branded eezee TV, will broadcast as a pre-recorded
channel until March 2005. In March 2005 eezee TV will
be re-launched as a live channel with 16 hours live
programming and 8 hours pre-recorded programming
daily, giving a 24-hour a day service. Kleeneze said
that the expansion into television shopping presents
significant cross-promotional and cross-selling
opportunities for the group. The joint venture
partner, JML, is a well-established retail distributor
and producer of promotional videos and has broadcast
the pre-recorded shopping channel under the name JML
Direct since 2002.

ITV SIGNS WARNER BROS OUTPUT DEAL
ITV has inked a volume deal with Warner Bros
International Television Distribution. ITV has
acquired feature films from Warner Bros' 2003, 2004
and 2005 theatrical slates including titles like Harry
Potter sequels The Chamber of Secrets & The Prisoner
of Azkaban, plus Matrix spin-offs Reloaded and
Revolutions. Also in the mixed bag are Scooby Doo and
Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, The Last Samurai,
Troy, Ocean's 11 and the upcoming Ocean's 12, The
Polar Express and Alexander. The deal includes library
titles like Unforgiven, The Fugitive, The Matrix,
Maverick, Lethal Weapon and Wild, Wild West. ITV3,
aimed at the over-35s, is due to start transmission on
November 1, airing UK reruns like Prime Suspect and
Cold Feet and US crime drama and feature films. US
drama imports already acquired for the network include
Crossing Jordan, LA Dragnet, Quincy and Karen Sisco.

BS*yB SEES DVR FUTURE
BS*yB is hoping digital video recorder technology
might help resolve the problem of the subscriber
growth stall. Figures out on September 28 suggest that
1 million U.K. households will be plugged into DVR
technology within the next year. Some 400,000 of
BS*yB's 7.4 million subscribers have S*y Plus boxes,
and S*y hopes to increase this number to 2.5 million
by 2010. Despite S*y's marketing push, however,
consumers are confused about the benefits of DVRs,
which allow viewers to record programs onto a hard
disc. According to Continental Research, less than
four in 10 people understand what DVRs are, with
awareness highest among young men in S*y Digital
homes. Meanwhile, S*y launched a new service enabling
S*y Plus boxes to record interactive programs.

BS*yB LAUNCHES BIGGEST ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN IN YEARS
BS*yB unveiled its biggest advertising campaign in six
years on September 30 as it seeks to reverse slowing
subscriber growth and wrest back the initiative from
Freeview. John Florsheim, managing director of sales
and marketing at BS*yB, admitted previous advertising
campaigns had not won over the 11 million terrestrial
viewers in Britain. Freeview watchers and families
with nursery-age children - a prime BS*yB customer -
will be among the groups targeted by a three-month
push. The advertising blitz follows a strategic shift
ordered by James Murdoch, the chief executive, which
included raising the annual marketing budget by 50% to
£75 million. BS*yB is chasing subscriber targets of 8
million by next year and 10 million by 2010 amid a
marked slowdown in the growth of customer numbers.
BS*yB dominates the pay-TV market with 7.4 million
subscribers, with 90% of new customers buying top-tier
deals costing £39 to £41 per month. The group is now
targeting potential customers with cheaper packages,
previously a low priority. BS*yB added 66,000
customers in the first three months of 2004, but
disappointed the market when it gained 81,000
subscribers in the second quarter against expectations
of 100,000 to 130,000.

BBC COMPLETES SALE OF TECHNOLOGY UNIT TO SIEMENS
The BBC has completed the procurement for a 10-year
Technology Framework Contract (TFC) with Siemens
Business Services worth almost £2 billion. As part of
the landmark deal, Siemens Business Services has
acquired BBC Technology, a commercial subsidiary of
the BBC. BBC Technology will be renamed Siemens
Business Services Media Holdings. The BBC has received
approval for the sale from the Secretary of State for
Culture, Media and Sport and approval from the BBC
Governors for both the procurement and the sale. The
two-part deal covering both contract and acquisition -
the first of its kind in the media industry - means
Siemens Business Services will work closely with BBC
Technology Direction, the department responsible for
the BBC's technology strategy and development, to
deliver the BBC's technology services across the whole
corporation for the next 10 years. The BBC expects to
save around £30 million per annum over the life of the
contract.

BDA LAUNCHES PROPERTY CHANNEL
Production company BDA (Bruce Dunlop & Associates)
announced the launch of an entertainment-led property
channel on the S*y Platform. Real Estate TV will be
launched in October 2004 in the UK. Former Flextech
management board member Mark Dodd will be heading up
Real Estate TV in partnership with BDA. "In addition
to providing developers and agents with a new way to
market property not only in the UK, but across the
world, Real Estate TV differs from other dedicated
teleshopping channels by offering viewers a wide
selection of the latest editorial content, including
the channel's very own commissioned programmes, " the
company commented. Real Estate TV has also acquired
the programming rights for Property Rescue and the
exclusive rights to Location Location. Complementary
to the editorial content, Real Estate TV will also be
presenting a blend of teleshopping windows and spot
advertising. The interactive aspect of the channel
will be supported by Broadband and mobile telephone
services. The channel will air on S*y 18 hours a day,
from 6am to midnight, and negotiations to transmit the
channel over cable are underway with both NTL and
Telewest.

E U R O P E

ESPN SEEKS TO EXPAND IN EUROPE
The Walt Disney Company's ESPN sports television
network is in discussions with European broadcasters
to launch its first live channel in the region after
securing a beachhead with the introduction of its
Classic Sports platform Russell Wolff, managing
director of ESPN International, told The Times that
"we have had discussions, and are in discussions, with
a variety of people" to launch a live 24-hour ESPN
channel in Europe. The talks come as ESPN launches
ESPN Classic Sports on Germany's Kabel Deutschland,
taking its total audience across the region to more
than 14 million households in 37 countries. ESPN is
also in talks with BS*yB to broadcast the channel,
which replays footage from past sporting events. The
global expansion of ESPN is part of a broader strategy
at Disney to leverage the strength of its television
assets outside the US. Since 1995 Disney has launched
25 TV channels in 68 countries. Wolff said that Europe
was the last major market around the world where ESPN
did not have a live channel.

DENMARK

TV2 CHARLIE ON AIR
Commercial broadcaster TV2's new channel Charlie
launched on October 1 with a slew of drama titles
acquired from BBC Worldwide. Aimed at the 40+ crowd,
the channel will be carrying a mix of recent and
classic BBC series, from Pride & Prejudice and
Ballykissangel to Cambridge Spies and all seasons of
Monarch of the Glen and Judge John Deed. Other titles
included in the deal are: The Cazelets, Daniel
Deronda, The Way We Live Now, When the Boat Comes,
Take a Girl Like You, Wives and Daughters and Madame
Bovary. The volume deal with BBCWW follows TV2
Charlie's earlier deal with Granada International for
titles including Hornblower, Kavanagh QC, The Vice,
Jeeves & Wooster, The Brief, Moll Flanders, Catherine
Cookson titles, Peak Practice, The Hunt and Brideshead
Revisited. The new channel sits alongside the recently
launched TV2 Zulu, which is targeted towards the youth
market.

FRANCE

FIRST mature content TV STATION PREPARES FOR LAUNCH
Calling it "a giant leap for television, a small step
in high heels," organisers on September 27 launched
France's first TV channel aimed at mature content, mature content and
transgender audiences. PinkTV was unveiled in Paris,
where organisers believe most of the channel's
audience will be located. France estimates its mature content
population to be about 3.5 million people. Accessible
by subscription and available in France via cable and
satellite starting October 25, PinkTV follows in the
footsteps of Canada's PrideVision, and mature content channels in
the U.K. and Italy. Offering a mix of currant affairs
shows, films, documentaries, music programming and TV
series like the Canadian-produced Queer as Folk, the
channel has no plans to be militant, organisers said.
Pink TV will offer a slew of shows imported from
Britain and the United States, where mature content programming
has become firmly established in the past few years.
Programmes will include "Metrosexuality", "Queer as
Folk" and "French and Saunders" -- all in English with
French subtitles. mature content opera and ballet and
documentaries will also be screened, as will interview
shows, notably one hosted by one of France's leading
news presenters, Claire Chazal.

GERMANY

DISNEY TO LAUNCH TWO CHANNELS ON CABLE PLATFORM
Playhouse Disney Channel and Toon Disney Channel are
set to launch in Germany on Kabel Deutschland's new
digital program platform Kabel Digital Home on
November 10. Playhouse Disney will be the first
dedicated preschool channel for Germany, featuring
shows like New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Stanley
and Bear in the Big Blue House. It will broadcast
daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Toon Disney will operate
for 24 hours a day with a slate of animated titles
such Disney's Recess and Disney's Kim Possible. The
German launches follow the two channels' previous
debuts in the UK, France and Spain. Alongside the
Disney offerings, KDG's new rival to Premiere will
also carry E! Entertainment, BBC Prime, Fashion TV,
13th Street, AXN, Sci-Fi, Kinowelt, History Channel,
Nat Geo, Planet, Extreme Sports, ESPN Classic Sports,
Sailing Channel, NASN, Motors TV, MTV Hits, MTV Dance,
VH1 Classic, Trace TV and Playboy TV.

FIRST PERSIAN TV CHANNEL STARTS BROADCASTING
Germany's first Farsi-language television station
"Mohajer International TV" has begun broadcasting a
24-hour test programme of music, dance, movies and
news. A spokesman said the digital station is
currently free to air on the Hotbird 6 satellite
system in Germany and hopes to broadcast to other
countries in Europe and the Middle East and eventually
Iran itself. He added that the station, in which a 50
per cent stake is held by Iranian businessman Hassan
Arpanahi, would like initially to reach the estimated
6,000 people from the Islamic Republic living in
Europe. He said the goal is to ultimately finance the
channel through advertising. Mohajer was given the
green light by German authorities to begin
broadcasting in July mainly because of its cultural
content, including programmes about music, the media,
film, lifestyle and cooking. It also has a documentary
show and news bulletins.

ESPN CLASSIC SPORT SIGNS CABLE DEAL
ESPN Classic Sport's English-language channel is now
available on Kabel Deutschland (KDG) in Germany. ESPN
Classic Sport, which will be included in KDG's new
digital home package, will transmit 24-hours a day,
seven days a week, offering German viewers a sporting
mix from Europe and around the world. It will also
feature a nightly two-hour German-language programming
block from 10pm, featuring some of Germany's greatest
athletes and most famous sporting moments. ESPN
Classic Sport already has distribution among
multi-channel homes in France and Italy (88 per cent
and 100 per cent, respectively) via affiliates such as
CanalSatellite, TPS, NOOS, FTC, UPC and S*y Italia.
ESPN Classic Sport is also available as a three-hour
branded block to 5.9 million subscribers in an
additional 11 European countries. In total, ESPN
Classic Sport programming can be seen in more than 14
million households in 37 countries.

NO-GO FOR KIRCH SUIT AGAINST DEUTSCHE BANK AND LIBERTY
MEDIA
A US court has thrown out a suit by former German
media mogul Leo Kirch against US cable operator
Liberty Media and German bank Deutsche Bank for
allegedly conspiring to bring about the downfall of
Kirch's media empire in 2002, Deutsche Bank revealed.
Kirch had filed a 39-page complaint with a court in
New York in January, accusing Deutsche Bank and
Liberty Media and their chairmen of plotting the
destruction of the Kirch Group in a bid to rid Liberty
Media of an unwelcome rival in the German cable
television market and secure hefty commissions for
Deutsche Bank. The complaint alleged that Liberty
Media and its chairman John Malone and Deutsche Bank
and its former chairman Rolf Breuer "conspired to
undermine a deal Kirch was negotiating to bring his
privately-owned group public by 2004". But the court
found that Kirch had failed to prove his case and
"dismissed (the suit) for failure to state a claim,"
according to a copy of the ruling made available by
Deutsche Bank. The conflict dates back to comments
made by Deutsche Bank's then chairman Breuer made on
television in 2002, in which he publicly questioned
the creditworthiness of the Kirch group. Soon
afterwards, banks refused to lend Kirch any more money
and KirchMedia, the main pillar of the Kirch Group,
filed for insolvency in April 2002.

PLAYBOY SIGNS CARRIAGE DEAL
Playboy TV International has reached a deal to launch
on KDG's Kabel Digital Home platform. Playboy TV will
air nightly from 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Initially
available in English, the channel will add
German-dubbed programming over the course of its
rollout. The new platform launched on September 27.
Germany's Federal Cartel Office last week vetoed KDG's
plans to merge with three regional cable operators.
Operating cable services in 13 German states, with a
reach of more than 10m households, Munich-based KDG is
already Europe's biggest cable operator.

NEW HOME SHOPPING CHANNEL ON ASTRA
SES ASTRA and 1-2-3.TV have announced the launch of a
new concept in home shopping. On 1-2-3.TV, it is the
customers who decide the price of each product by
making an offer for each item by telephone. If that
offer is one of the highest received for the items
being presented, the purchase then takes place. The
new channel is available throughout Europe via ASTRA
19.2° East (transponder 47; downlink frequency
11170.75 MHz; horizontal polarisation) and in digital
(frequency 12.46050 GHz; horizontal polarisation,
symbol rate 27.5; FEC 3/4). In addition to managing
directors Dr. Andreas Büchelhofer and Henning
Schnepper, the company's shareholders include the
venture capital companies Wellington Partners, 3i,
Target Partners and Cuneo AG. 1-2-3.TV GmbH is hoping
to break even in its third financial year, by which
time it expects to have achieved approximately half a
million registered customers.

BBC PRIME ADDS GERMAN SUBSCRIBERS
BBC Prime expands in Germany with KDGBBC Worldwide,
the commercial consumer arm of the BBC, and Kabel
Deutschland (KDG), Germany's leading cable network,
have announced an agreement to provide carriage for
British entertainment channel, BBC Prime, across
Germany. BBC Prime has been selected by KDG for
inclusion in its new Kabel Digital HOME package,
launched this week in Munich, which heralds a major
push to drive digital uptake in Germany. BBC Prime is
broadcast to over 20 million subscribers across
Europe, the Middle East and Africa on cable and
satellite. This flagship British cable channel shows
the best of the BBC's award-winning programmes from
drama, comedy, children's, documentary, film, music,
lifestyle series and celebrity talkshows.

ITALY

NEWS CORP BECOMES SOLE OWNER OF S*y ITALIA
News Corp. on September 28 said that it agreed to buy
the 20 per cent of S*y Italia, the
satellite-television broadcaster that it does not
already own from Telecom Italia for ?88 million. The
deal comes as News Corp., the media conglomerate
controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family, seeks to
make S*y Italia break even next year. Telecom Italia
is selling non-core assets to meet its year-end target
of cutting its debt to below ?30 billion. News Corp.
formed S*y Italia, Italy's only satellite TV provider,
last year after buying rival Tele+ from Vivendi
Universal and merging it with Stream, as News Corp.'s
satellite channel was called. S*y Italia has 2.7
million subscribers. Telecom Italia, which runs two TV
stations in Italy, was prevented from exercising
management control over S*y Italia because of
antitrust rules approving News Corp.'s purchase of
Tele+.

THE NETHERLANDS

DE MOL BUYS DUTCH FOOTBALL TEAM TV RIGHTS
Dutch billionaire and media mogul John de Mol, through
his investment company Talpa Capital, has bought up
the rights to broadcast all six away games for the
Dutch team in the qualification rounds for the World
Cup in 2006. Talpa outbid Dutch broadcasters RTL
Netherlands, SBS Broadcasting and the Dutch public
broadcasters for the rights to the qualification
matches which all three other contenders said were too
expensive for them to take on. First broadcast of the
away games will be seen October 9, well before De
Mol's new venture is set to kick off. The six away
games for the Dutch team were said to have cost as
much as ?900,000 per game. .

CASEMA TO OFFER FREE DIGITAL TV CHANNELS
Cable operator Casema intends to add an additional 40
to 50 digital TV channels for free with the standard
analogue TV package as of January 1. With this offer,
Casema hopes to attract more customers to digital
television. At the moment, Casema has around 24,000
digital subscribers. In order to be able to watch the
free stations, customers will still need to buy a
digital receiver, which is available for between ?100
and ?200. Casema is aims for a penetration of digital
receivers of ten per cent by the end of 2005, and 80
per cent within five years. Casema is the third cable
operator in the Netherlands with 1.3 million
subscribers.

POLAND

TP PLANS DIGITAL PAY-TV SERVICE
In a few months TP will offer its customers digital TV
and thus will enter direct competition with cable
television operators. According to local press
reports, the company might offer its services 20-30%
cheaper than currently offered by the largest cable
operators. "We might pitch our offer in Q2 2005, with
a test phase probably beginning early next year," said
Mariusz Gaca, director of the multimedia division of
TP. A key advantage the phone company will have is its
range, as it will be able to enter the homes of
broadband Internet subscribers.

RUSSIA

MURDOCH SEEKS TO EXPAND INTO RUSSIA
Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corporation, wants to
expand his operations into Russian television, where
he plans to create a pay-for-view platform and produce
TV programs, Britain's Sunday Telegraph quoted Marty
Pompadur, one of Murdoch's aides, who is currently on
a fact-finding mission in Russia. "We are looking for
other investments," Pompadur told the newspaper. "We
are looking to add to our radio and our outdoor
[advertising] holdings, and we are interested in
pay-TV and content." The company is considering
satellite, cable and broadband Internet as ways of
creating a pay-TV platform in Russia. As Russian
Internet news resource Newsru.com reported, in
November 2003 Murdoch was considering the possibility
of buying part of the shares in the Russian satellite
television company NTV Plus but the negotiations
brought no positive results.

Regards Satdude. :D
 

Satdude

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Satellite news 12.10.04

News

UK

BBC PROGRAMMES IN THE S*Y
The BBC is in discussions with Boeing to start
providing airline passengers with live in-flight
television. The US aircraft maker plans to start
offering live TV next spring through its Connexion by
Boeing system which entered service with the German
flag carrier Lufthansa in May and has also been
selected by seven other airlines. Passengers will be
able to choose from four live channels supplied by
different broadcasters, by connecting their laptops to
an on-board internet service. As well as the BBC,
Boeing is also thought to have approached the US cable
television network CNN. One of the BBC programmes
which could be screened is the News 24 channel. The
Connexion service costs $29.95 for unlimited access on
long-haul flights of more than six hours. There is
also a pay-by-the-minute tariff.

FLEXTECH PLANS REALITY TV CHANNEL
Flextech, the programming arm of cable group Telewest,
is to launch a new channel specialising in reality and
entertainment TV. The group, which runs the UKTV
network in partnership with BBC Worldwide, is aiming
to launch Living TV 2 by the end of the year in a bid
to turn Living into the UK's "sixth" main TV channel.
The channel, already home to controversial shows such
as Extreme Makeover, said it intends to use the
channel to broadcast the latest reality shows and to
beef up coverage of its monthly TV events such as Most
Haunted Live.

BBC WORLD BEST EUROPEAN NEWS CHANNEL
BBC World has beat S*y News, EuroNews and Rai Med to
win Europe's Best News Channel at the Hot Bird awards,
which celebrate multichannel broadcasting in Europe.
The BBC was described as "the most complete and
exhaustive source of TV news in the year 2004" by an
independent panel of media journalists. Several
hundred television channels were eligible to enter the
Hot Bird TV Awards, organised by the satellite
operator Eutelsat, which took place at a ceremony in
Venice, Italy. BBC World was also named Best News
Channel at the Hot Bird TV awards in 1998 and in 2002,
specifically in recognition of its coverage of the
attacks on the US on September 11 2001. No other
channel has received the award three times.

BOOST FOR CHANNEL 4 - FIVE MERGER
Hopes of a merger between broadcasters Channel 4 and
Five have been boosted after the owners of Channel
Five said they were prepared to accept a minority
share of a combined group, The Times newspaper has
reported. "We are prepared to go to a minority
position in a combined company. The idea of 4 and Five
was not that we would take over Channel 4. Both
channels need to be bigger," Gerhard Zeiler, CEO of
European TV broadcaster RTL, which jointly owns Five
with UK-based United Business Media, was quoted as
saying in the October 5 edition of the newspaper. "I
think we will know by the end of the year whether this
deal can be done. It will only be done if both sides
are willing to say yes," Zeiler was quoted as saying.
The Times said Zeiler and the bosses of publicly owned
Channel 4 met for the first time last month.

BBC SECURES CELTIC RUGBY INTERNATIONALS
BBC has agreed a new five-year deal with the Celtic
Unions (Irish Rugby Football Union, Scottish Rugby
Union and Welsh Rugby Union), giving BBC exclusive
rights to show their Autumn Internationals on network
television from 2005-2009 inclusive. The deal
includes: all home rugby Internationals for Wales,
Scotland and Ireland; all matches against Regional
sides during the Autumn International period (or Six
Nations 'A' team Internationals); live Celtic Cup
rights for BBC Scotland and highlights rights for BBC
Northern Ireland (BBC Wales already have a separate
contract for the Celtic League games), with the Cup
Final to be shown on network television in
Grandstand*. Coupled with the Six Nations, BBC now has
all international rugby hosted in the UK until the end
of the decade, with the exception of the England
Autumn tests to which BBC currently has highlights
rights.

MEN & MOTORS UP FOR SALE?
ITV is in talks about the sale of its digital
channels, Plus and Men & Motors, as part of its
strategy to sell off its non-core assets to create a
more streamlined ITV. ITV holds a 50.5% stake in the
channels, which it co-owns with BS*yB as part of
Granada S*y Broadcasting. According to industry
insiders, ITV is hoping to sell its stake to S*y,
which will enable the satellite broadcaster to
increase its dominance in the men's market against
other digital channels including Flextech's Bravo.
Another option being mooted is a management buyout, if
staff could raise enough from a private investment
company. Men & Motors launched in 1997 as part of a
suite of joint ventures between Granada and BS*yB. It
has now been disbanded with its responsibility
absorbed into the main ITV Sales division.

DISCOVERY HOME & LEISURE SET FOR MAKEOVER
As part of a strategy to create a homogenised network
of international lifestyle channels, the Discovery
Home & Leisure is set for a name change and a
redefinition of its demographic focus towards the end
of 2005. The channel will be rebranded Discovery Real
Time to bring it in line with its sister networks,
currently rolling out worldwide. Real Time will be
aimed at men age 25-45, featuring practical
programming for men, centring on men's channel
regulars like motors, workshop activities, gadgets,
fitness and grooming. The channel is one of three
lifestyle channels currently being rolled out in
markets from India to Europe, besides Discovery Travel
& Living and Discovery Home & Health.

TG4 TARGETS ULSTER
The Irish language TV station TG4 is preparing to
broadcast officially from Northern Ireland, industry
sources have told The Belfast Telegraph. The channel,
known as Teilifis na Gaeilige, is thought to be
involved in preparatory work on the transmitter on
Divis Mountain. The plan to broadcast TG4 north of the
border has its roots in the Good Friday Agreement,
which called on the British Government to work with
the broadcasting authorities to explore "the scope for
achieving more widespread availability of Teilifis na
Gaeilige in Northern Ireland". Much of the land area
of the province already receives the channel as a
result of so-called overspill from southern
transmitters, but the most populous areas around
Belfast do not. The final go-ahead for the plans is
subject to approval from the EU and the holders to the
rights to some of the programmes broadcast on TG4.

E U R O P E

SBS PLANS TO EXPAND
SBS president and CEO Markus Tellenbach on October 4
outlined major new channel expansion plans and said
the terrestrial broadcast group is on the lookout for
acquisition and consolidation opportunities. SBS,
which operates 10 analogue terrestrial channels in
Central and Eastern Europe across a footprint of 140
million homes, said it plans to launch themed digital
channels in its key markets. Tellenbach said the
group, which spans 14 countries, also is exploring
opportunities to grow horizontally through possible
partnerships with free television partners.

GLOBECAST DELIVERS PAKISTAN TV TO EUROPEAN VIEWERS
GlobeCast has announced a long-term agreement with
Prime TV to deliver 24-hour Pakistani family channel
PTV Prime to subscribers in the UK, Ireland and
Europe. The deal sees GlobeCast providing an
end-to-end distribution service for the subscription
channel which will be available on GlobeCast's
direct-to-home platforms via Eurobird and Hot Bird. In
the UK and Ireland, PTV Prime will reach 7.5 million
people on S*y Digital. PTV Prime was the first 24-hour
Pakistani channel to launch in Europe and has
exclusive rights to broadcast state-owned Pakistan
Television (PTV) content outside Asia. Offering a mix
of family programming in English and Urdu, it features
programmes created specifically for European-based
Pakistanis, Urdu and Punjabi families as well as PTV
content. PTV Prime also airs live news bulletins nine
times daily from the PTV News Network in Asia. To
provide the feeds for the European news and
programming content, GlobeCast downlinks PTV News and
Pakistan TV from AsiaSat 3S in Singapore and backhauls
it over its global fibre network to London via
America. GlobeCast also provides an end-to-end managed
satellite distribution service which includes an
uplink from Brookmans Park to Eurobird and Hot Bird,
enabling the channel to reach a potential 100 million
viewers across the UK and Europe.

BULGARIA

CABLE PIRATES COULD GET FIVE YEAR JAIL SENTENCE
Bulgarians who connect to cable television networks
without a subscription could face imprisonment of up
to five years, according to local press reports.
Pirating the networks was penalized by fresh
amendments to the Penal Code, according to Magdalena
Georgieva, consultant at the national cable television
association "TV Club 2000". At the beginning of
October, operators in most of Bulgaria introduced
higher prices for their services. Capital Sofia saw an
increase of about 28% in monthly subscription prices,
which jumped from ?7 to ?9. Sofia's leading cable TV
providers have said the move was prompted partly by
boosted fees to the Bulgarian Telecommunications
Company (BTC). The telecom, on the contrary, said that
it hasn't charged the operators any different since
2002.

DENMARK

BBC FOOD SIGNS CABLE CARRIAGE DEAL
BBC Worldwide has signed a carriage deal with Danish
cable network TDC Kabel TV for its BBC Food network,
expanding the channel's reach by 650,000 subscriber
households. Miriam Igelsø Hvidt, the program director
at TDC, noted, "We have added BBC Food following its
huge popularity when it was trialled on our Wish
Channel. BBC Food is the only channel in Denmark fully
devoted to food and cooking, which is a very popular
nowadays. With many programs on BBC Food now subtitled
in Danish, the channel is even more attractive to our
customers." BBC Food will broadcast on TDC daily,
sharing with the newly launched TV2 Charlie channel on
TDC's Middle Package.

FRANCE

REVENUES DOWN AT CANAL PLUS
Canal Plus Group posted half-year revenues on October
1 of $906 million, slightly down from $919 million in
2003, while profits increased to $23.5 million from
$19.8 million the year before. For the first time
since 2000, Canal Plus saw a rise in subscriptions, to
4.88 million compared with 4.86 million in the first
half of 2003. Canal's exceptional income came in at
$3.7 million, a $32 million hike from the first half
of 2003 when the group posted an exceptional expense
of $28.5 million. The pay-TV group also said that
operating expenses had fallen in the first half of
2004 vs. the first half of last year, dropping from
$720.5 million to $709 million. On the downside, the
Vivendi Universal subsidiary said distribution fees
had risen from $139 million to $195 million.

CANAL+ BATTLES IT OUT FOR TV FOOTBALL RIGHTS
Canal Plus is ready to pull out all the stops to
obtain the maximum amount of football TV rights. Canal
Plus group chairman Bertrand Meheut told reporters on
October 7 that it had a lot of financial room to
manoeuvre in next month's auctions for the broadcast
rights to matches in France. The board of France's
Professional Football League will soon set the terms
for its call for bids for three seasons starting with
2005-06. The auction is expected to take place in
November, with the results made public by
mid-December. The most hotly-contested rights will be
live transmission of the top Ligue 1 matches and
pay-per-view broadcasting, which will be battled over
by Canal Plus and the TPS satellite network - owned 66
per cent by TF1 and 34 per cent by M6. Canal Plus
currently pays ?310 million per season for rights to
the first and third choice matches, pay-per-view and
the 'Jour de foot' programme, while TPS pays ?70
million for the second match and pay-per-view.

TF1 CONTESTS DTT BIDS
Leading commercial TV network TF1 has cited a
technicality to contest a decision by French broadcast
regulator the Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel to
issue digital terrestrial television broadcast
licenses to six channels owned by rival commercial
broadcasters Canal Plus and Lagardere. Acting on a
complaint filed by TF1, a French public prosecutor has
appealed to the Conseil d'Etat, the country's highest
administrative authority, to challenge the CSA's
decision, taken in June 2003, according to French
business dailies La Tribune and Les Echos. The
prosecutor has upheld TF1's claim that the channels --
Sport Plus, iTelevision, MCM, Canal J, Cine Cinemas
and Planete -- are jointly owned by Canal Plus' parent
company Vivendi Universal and the Lagardere Group.

GERMANY

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TO LAUNCH NOVEMBER 1
Аs of 1 November, National Geographic Channel
will broadcast in German 24 hours a day, an
informative and entertaining program mix featuring
science and technology, investigation, wildlife,
history and adventure travel. Renowned researchers,
explorers, scientists, conservationists, photographers
and filmmakers will provide unique access to,
expeditions, cultures, wildlife, science, natural
phenomena and much more. National Geographic Channel
will initially be received in Germany via Kabel
Deutschland's "Kabel Digital Home" service. National
Geographic Channels International (NGCI) will also
offer the program to other cable network providers in
Germany, Austria and Switzerland, in order to ensure
the widest possible coverage. Worldwide, NGCI
programmes have so far been received by 170 million
households in 148 countries and in 27 languages.

PROSIEBEN AND ASTRA TEST HDTV/SDTV SIMULCASTS
ProSiebenSat1 Produktion and SES ASTRA on October 14
will, for the very first time, simultaneously
broadcast a high-resolution HDTV (High Definition
Television) signal in parallel with the traditional
digital standard-resolution via Astra 19.2 degrees
East. The ProSieben/BBC co-production "Pride - The Law
of the Savannah" (a wildlife program about the
adventures of a young lion) will be available to
viewers equipped with appropriate receivers both via
conventional standard-definition (SD) reception and,
exclusively via ASTRA, in the new, crystal-clear HDTV
standard. With the significantly enhanced picture
quality provided by HDTV, "Pride" can be viewed with
much greater, true-to-life detail. The visual
experience will be completed by Dolby Digital 5.1
sound, providing viewers for the first time ever with
true cinema quality in the living room. Technically
speaking, the broadcast will be simulcast in parallel
to the regular SD signal, the film being played out in
HDCAM SR (1080i/50 Hz) and delivered to an MPEG-2 HD
encoder with a data rate of some 1.4 gigabits/s. The
HD broadcast of Pride will be available via ASTRA
Transponder No. 103 (12460 Mhz, H-polarisation, SR
27.500, FEC 3/4.). An HD promo trailor of Pride will
be available as of October 12. The ASTRA HDTV
promotion channel is receivable via ASTRA transponder
Nbr. 102, vertical polarisation, 12,4441 MHz, 27.5
Msymbols/s, FEC 3/4 using MPEG-2 MP@HL, 1080i, bitrate
19 Mb/s.

REGIONAL TV GOES DIGITAL
On December 6, TV viewers in the Rhine-Main region
around Frankfurt will receive only digital TV signals
from the terrestrial transmitters. The area is
becoming the fourth region in Germany to switch its
regular analog television signals to a purely digital
format. Testing of the system has already began and
the federal government has made it a priority to
upgrade all TV transmission to digital signals by
2010. Viewers will need a digital decoder box, which
retails for between ?60 and ?90. Meanwhile, in Berlin
which switched over between 2002 and 2003, the
Association for Entertainment and Communications
Electronics says the DVB-T has caught on in the
nation's capital with nearly 260,000 decoder boxes
purchased since the transformation. The association
estimates 1.1 million of the devices will be in homes
by year's end.

HUNGARY

VIASAT 3 STATUS UNDER REVIEW
Hungarian commercial television network Viasat3 may
have to restructure its ownership and programming if
the National Television and Radio Board (ORTT) finds
that it reaches more than 50% of Hungary's population,
according to a report by Radio Netherlands. Viasat3
currently operates as a regional channel, being
available terrestrially in Budapest, and via cable
networks in the rest of the country. However, the
expansion of cable networks means that the station may
now be reaching more than 50% of the population, which
under Hungarian media law means it will be
re-classified as a national broadcaster. At least 26%
of a national broadcaster must be owned by Hungarian
individuals or legal entities. Currently, 95% of
Viasat3 is owned by Sweden's MTG Broadcasting, part of
the Modern Times Group. The media law also states that
no company can hold a controlling share, publisher's
or founder's rights in a nationwide daily newspaper
and a nationwide broadcaster at the same time. The
Hungarian edition of the free daily Metro is published
by MTG Metro Gratis, also owned by the Modern Times
Group. If declared a national station, Viasat3 will
also be required to air at least 20 minutes of news
programming at peak time. The ORTT will announce its
findings by December 1.

ICELAND

IBC OPTS FOR CONAX
Conax, a leading supplier of conditional access
technology for digital TV, signed up its first
customer of the Conax CAS7 system, launched at IBC
2004. Icelandic Broadcasting Corporation will use the
Conax CAS7 system for its Digital Terrestrial
operation (DTT), starting this November. Conax CAS7
includes new exciting features such as use of mobile
phone to order digital TV content and enhanced copy
protection by extending the broadcast security level
to the Personal Video Recorder (PVR). Icelandic
Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) is the TV and Radio
division of Northern Lights Communication, the largest
privately operated media company and the most dynamic
company in the field of entertainment in Iceland. IBC
has ordered a complete Conax CAS7 system for
conversion of their analogue subscribers to digital,
enabling vast expansion of IBC's offering to their
subscribers. Conax CAS7 also gives Icelandic
Broadcasting Corporation the possibility to make
ordering and payment of content very convenient.

ITALY

GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS FLOAT OF 20% OF RAI
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has announced
that Italy will float at least 20 per cent of state
broadcaster RAI by next March, The government paved
the way for the RAI sell-off in a media law approved
by parliament in April. Under the terms of the law,
no-one will be able to take more than a one per cent
stake in the company, which is Italy's largest media
group. RAI said in a statement it closed the first six
months of the year with a net profit of ?82 million,
up 80 per cent compared with the first half of 2003.
RAI runs three terrestrial TV channels which compete
head-to-head with three channels owned by Mediaset,
controlled by Berlusconi and his family. Analysts have
said the partial privatization of RAI would ease
concerns over a potential conflict between
Berlusconi's political power and family business
interests.

BBC PROGRAMS ON RAISAT CHANNELS
Three of RaiSat's channels are set to launch BBC
branded blocks some time next year featuring drama,
cooking and children's shows. RaiSat Premium will
showcase popular recent drama productions from the BBC
in a daily two-hour slot from Monday to Thursday.
RaiSat Gambero Rosso will broadcast a selection of
cookery programs and the children's channel RaiSat
Ragazzi will air a BBC branded slot with children's
output. BBC branded blocks currently air on networks
throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, as BBC Food, BBC
Life (lifestyle), BBC Wild (natural history), BBC
Exclusive (documentary), BBC Select (drama), BBC
Playtime (children) and BBC Science.

ANTITRUST INVESTIGATION INTO MEDIASET AND RAI
Italian Communication Authority President Enzo Cheli
said on October 4 that an antitrust investigation had
been opened into the dominant positions held by state
broadcaster RAI and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's
Mediaset in the national advertising market. In July,
Cheli's office said that in light of the apparent
duopoly of the Italian television and radio
marketplace and the allocation of advertising
resources, they would be providing an advisory to the
Italian parliament. If the investigation reveals that
RAI and Mediaset have breached the antitrust limit of
having a maximum 30% share of the advertising market,
the Communication Authority could fine both companies
2%-5% of their revenue. The investigation, which
opened last month, is expected to last four months.

RUSSIA

NTV GOES 24 HOURS
Russia's leading commercial television network, NTV,
announced 5 it will switch to round-the-clock
broadcasting on October 12 as part of a fall makeover
in the ratings hunt behind market leading pubcaster
First Channel. The station plans to run a mixture of
quality western dramas -- such as "Emergency Room" --
Hollywood movies, sports and other entertainment shows
aimed at an adult, night-time audience, said Maria
Bezborodova, assistant to NTV head Vladimir
Kulistikov.

CHANNEL RUSSIA SIGNS WARNER BROS OUTPUT DEAL
Warner Bros. International Television Distribution
(WBITD) has signed an exclusive multi-year free TV
deal with TV Channel Russia, formerly RTR, that
includes films, series, TV movies and animation,
including the new hit sitcom Joey and the
Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
Also included in the deal are the new dramas Veronica
Mars and Eyes, plus the feature films Troy, The Last
Samurai and Ocean's 12, among others.

SCANDINAVIA

MTG LAUNCHES VIASAT HISTORY
The Modern Times Group's newest channel, Viasat
History, will be available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark
and Finland, beginning in November, to subscribers of
Viasat DTH's Gold and Silver packages. The latest
rollout follows the launch in May into eight Central
and Eastern European markets via third party cable
networks. The channel, which features factual fare as
well as period dramas and mini-series based on
historical events, currently has more than 800,000
subscribers. Alongside a broad range of cultural,
political, social, scientific, sporting and
entertainment history programmes and documentaries,
Viasat History programming includes period dramas and
miniseries based on historical events.

Regards Satdude. :D
 

Satdude

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Satellite news 18.10.04

News

UK

BBC PRIME IN 20 MILLION HOMES
BBC Prime, BBC Worldwide's international entertainment
channel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is for
the first time reaching more than 20 million
subscriber households. BBC Prime achieved this
milestone following recent growth and launches into
new territories, making BBC Prime one of the most
popular platforms for British television across
Europe, the Middle East and Africa. BBC Prime has seen
strong growth recently with launches across Central
Europe and Italy, the development of subtitling to
cover ten languages and new distribution deals in
France and Germany. In South Africa, BBC Prime is now
established as the most watched international channel.
BBC Prime is broadcast to over 20 million subscribers
across Europe, the Middle East and Africa on cable and
satellite. Over 2500 hours of new programming are
transmitted each year, including Parkinson, Top of the
Pops, EastEnders, The Weakest Link and BBC Learning
(the BBC's unique overnight educational service). This
flagship British cable channel shows the best of the
award-winning programmes from BBC drama, comedy,
children's, documentary, film and lifestyle series.
Subtitles are available in English, Hungarian, Czech,
Polish, Hebrew, Romanian, Italian, Danish, Swedish and
Norwegian.

ITV COMPLETES GMTV ACQUISITION
ITV has completed the £31 million acquisition of SMG's
stake in GMTV, the latest step in taking full control
of the breakfast-time broadcaster. Following the
merger of Carlton and Granada to create ITV plc, chief
executive Charles Allen announced in May that the
company would buy SMG's 25% stake in GMTV, taking its
overall stake to 75%. Under the terms of the
shareholder agreement ITV is now obliged to offer Walt
Disney, the other joint venture partner in the
consortium that originally won the breakfast
broadcasting licence from TV-am, £31 million for its
25% stake in GMTV. However, the US giant has not yet
decided whether to sell.

NTL RECEIVES 15 BIDS
NTL has received at least 15 offers for its TV and
radio transmission business, the sale of which is
expected to generate up to £1.2 billion for the UK's
largest cable company. The first round of bidding for
the transmitter network that broadcasts the BBC, ITV,
Channel 4 and Five closed on October 11, with a number
of private equity firms and infrastructure companies
believed to have expressed an interest. Bidders that
have lodged an initial interest with Goldman Sachs,
which is handling the sale process, include Australian
bank Macquarie, Apax Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
and Terra Firma. Macquarie, which bought NTL's
Australian transmission business in 2002, is expected
to be among the favourites, having failed earlier this
year in its bid to buy Crown Castle's transmission
business. The number of bidders is expected to drop
sharply ahead of the second round of bids, which are
due in by November 22. The winner of the auction is
also likely to have to spend hundreds of millions of
pounds upgrading the nationwide transmission service
to cope with the switch from analogue to digital
broadcasting.

CONSUMER GROUP WORRIED OVER DIGITAL TV
Consumer groups lobbied the government on October 11
to ensure that people with low incomes or disabilities
will not be left out in the switch from analogue to
digital broadcasting, set for 2012. In a report
commissioned by broadcasting minister Andrew McIntosh,
the Consumer Experts Group, an alliance of
consumer-advocate bodies, warned that most people are
still against the idea of the switch-off and that the
government would miss its target date if financial
support is not available for the elderly and
low-income households. The pressure groups included
representatives from the Consumers' Association, the
Royal National Institute for the Blind, the National
Consumer Council and Age Concern.

BBC DIGITAL TV CHANNELS FAIL TO DELIVER
The BBC's digital portfolio of channels has had a
limited effect on commercial rivals because they have
failed to attract audiences, according to a U.K.
culture secretary-commissioned review of the services
published on October 13. In the review of the role of
youth entertainment channel BBC3, arts channel BBC4
and kids services CBBC and CBeebies that will feed
into the process of BBC charter review, Patrick
Barwise of the London Business School said that BBC3
and BBC4 had proven to be "poor value for money" in
terms of driving digital take-up, but he acknowledged
that program quality was high.

BBC, CHANNEL 4 AND ITV LAUNCH AUDIO DESCRIPTION
The BBC, Channel 4 and ITV have announced that Audio
Description is now available via digital satellite
television, as well as on Freeview. Audio Description,
or AD, allows viewers with compatible equipment to
hear a verbal description of the visual scenes on the
television. It broadcasts some programmes with
enhanced commentary transmitted in gaps between
dialogue. It has been developed as an aid to
understanding and enjoyment particularly, but not
exclusively, for viewers who have visual impairments.
The BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Five are committed to
audio describing at least six per cent of their output
in 2005. Programmes described include the most popular
soaps like Eastenders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale
and comedies like Friends and s_x and the City.
Children's programming like Blue Peter, The Hoobs and
Fimbles feature this service also. The BBC's Audio
Description service will be accessible via BBC One
London, BBC Two England, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBeebies
and CBBC.

SONY AND DISNEY TEAM UP FOR VOD SERVICE
Sony Pictures and the Walt Disney Co. are planning to
launch the United Kingdom's first studio-backed
video-on-demand service in a bid to erode BS*yB's
control over the UK pay-TV market. The two studios
said they plan to launch a cable-only VOD service in
partnership with management company On Demand
Management, which already operates pay-per-view
services for the U.K.'s biggest cable operators, NTL
and Telewest. Sony Pictures, Disney and the On Demand
group filed an application October 4 for permission to
launch the service with the European Commission's
competition division and expect a preliminary decision
as early as November 11.

UK POPULATION WANTS TV LICENSE FEE
According to the results of a new BBC survey, 81 per
cent of the U.K. population agree that the public
broadcaster is worth the £121 they have to pay for the
license fee every year. The survey, entitled Measuring
the Value of the BBC, also found that more than half
of the 2,257 respondents valued the BBC at twice the
current license fee. Respondents on average valued the
BBC at between £18 and £24 per month. In terms of
programming, the digital channels BBC Three, CBBC and
CBeebies were well received by respondents, while in
analogue homes News 24 proved to be a favourite. The
report also assessed the impact of introducing a
subscription-funded model for the BBC-if the
broadcaster were to charge £13 per month, 14.8 million
homes would subscribe. About 9.7 million would not
have access to the BBC.

ITV EXPECTS CUT IN BROADCAST FEES
ITV took a step closer to slashing its £450 million
licence payments burden on October 13 after Ofcom
published proposals that could reduce annual
broadcasting fees. The UK's largest commercial
terrestrial broadcaster has long argued for a
reduction in the public service programming quotas
that form a large constituent of its analogue
broadcasting licences. Ofcom, the media regulator,
acknowledged ITV's case last month when it proposed
the gradual phasing out of non-news regional
programming. However, ITV has also called for Ofcom to
recognise the cost of broadcasting 104 hours of
religious programming and 520 hours of TV shows per
year in terms of lost advertising revenue. The
regulator confirmed it will take into account the
money lost from screening such programmes when it
calculates the cost of ITV licences, which are due for
renewal at the end of the year.

BBC WORLDWIDE NOT FOR SALE
The BBC has told senior executives that a full scale
sell-off of its commercial arm, valued at up to £1
billion, is now firmly off the agenda after hiring
bankers to discuss the possibility with major media
companies in recent months. The corporation's chief
operating officer, John Smith, who is overseeing a
wholesale review of the BBC's commercial operations,
told a meeting of 400 managers that Worldwide was "not
for sale at the moment". He said the review was likely
to recommend that the BBC hold on to assets that "had
a strategic attachment" to the broadcaster. These are
likely to include the BBC America cable channel and
other overseas ventures.

UEFA CUP FINAL ON ITV
ITV has beaten Five to the rights to the Uefa Cup
final for the next two years. The network already
shares the rights to live Champions League coverage
with BS*yB as part of a £83 million-a-year joint deal,
but this year has stepped up its drive to pick up
rights to the second string European competition as
well. UEFA, the European football governing body, has
announced that ITV has secured the rights to the 2005
and 2006 Uefa Cup finals. As part of the deal ITV has
also won the rights to next year's Super Cup final,
played annually between the winners of the Champions
League and the Uefa Cup.

NTL CHOOSES SEACHANGE FOR VOD SERVICE
ntl Incorporated, the largest cable television
operator in the United Kingdom, has chosen SeaChange
International and its comprehensive VOD System to
support its impending on-demand television service.
Initial launch of ntl's on-demand service is slated
for the first quarter of 2005, making it Europe's
first large-scale, commercial cable on-demand service.
SeaChange's strategic on-demand partner, London-based
programming and content provider On Demand Group
(ODG), is also collaborating with ntl to enable this
milestone in European television. ntl is the U.K.'s
largest cable company and leading broadband supplier
with over one million broadband customers and 3
million residential customers. ntl's fibre-optic
broadband network can service 7.8 million homes in the
U.K. including London, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford,
Cambridge, Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast.

BS*yB EXTENDS ENGLAND RUGBY UNION CONTRACT
BS*yB extended its contract to show England rugby
matches by five years until 2010, the Rugby Football
Union said on October 12. BS*yB will show domestic
league matches and England's home international games
except for those in Europe's Six Nations tournament,
which is aired by the BBC. BS*yB already shows the
European Heineken Cup and, from the southern
hemisphere, Tri- Nations and Super 12 matches.

GMTV RENEWS DISNEY OUTPUT DEAL
UK breakfast broadcaster GMTV has renewed its output
deal with minority shareholder Disney. Despite the
loss of Disney-produced show Diggin' It, the renewal
will still ensure that Disney cartoons fill much of
GMTV's weekend kids slots, and covers some 300 new
half-hours of series like Lilo & Stitch, House of
Mouse, Recess, Kim Possible, Dave the Barbarian and
Tarzan. A separate deal also covers rights to Power
Rangers: Dino Thunder and Spider-Man from Jetix Europe
which Disney's sale arm Buena Vista represents. All
titles will arrive in GMTV's Saturday and Sunday
morning slots from early February 2005.

INTERACTIVE BBC TEN O'CLOCK NEWS
After Wimbledon and the Olympics: the BBC is now
planning to add an interactive dimension to its
flagship news bulletin, the Ten O'Clock News on BBC1.
The move will expand on the existing interactive news
services on BBC channels, which already offer a
round-up of headlines, a business summary, weather and
sport updates. The new service, dubbed Ten Extra and
created by iTV firm Two Way TV, will offer red button
jockeys two new text/graphics-based services plus one
video package, adding additional info and footage to
three of the night's top stories. Running on weekdays
only, Ten Extra will be available to interactive TV
viewers for only 15 minutes after the news bulletin.

Europe

RECORD VIEWERSHIP FOR EURO 2004
According to Médiamétrie's newest Eurodata TV Sport
Insight survey, viewership for the Euro 2004 football
tournament topped the viewership for this year's
summer Olympic Games across Europe. Highlights of the
Euro 2004 ratings include the numbers for Germany,
where 25.4 million viewers tuned in for the
Greece/Portugal finale on ZDF, scoring a market share
of 68.5 per cent. In Greece, meanwhile, ET1 scored an
80.6 per cent share-for some 3 million viewers-for the
final match. In France, TF1 nabbed a 59.9 per cent
share with the 15.3 million viewers who watched the
France/Switzerland match. And BBC One generated a 72.5
per cent share for the 20.7 million audiences for the
Portugal-U.K. event. In terms of the Olympics,
gymnastics and athletics topped in Germany, which
scored 24.6 per cent and 26.3 per cent shares
respectively. Those two disciplines were also popular
in Spain, generating shares of 18.5 per cent and 19.8
per cent. Football and basketball were the big winners
in Italy, with 36.6 per cent and 33.8 per cent shares
respectively.

EBU RECOMMENDS HDTV STANDARD
The EBU Technical Committee has recommended that
Emission standards for HDTV should be based on
progressive scanning: 720p/50 is currently the optimum
solution, but 1080p/50 is an attractive option for the
longer term. Although there are strong technical
arguments in favour of progressive scanning for
emission, the EBU Technical Committee recognises that
some broadcasters might wish to broadcast 1080i
programme material. As consumer electronics equipment
(e.g. set-top boxes and displays) will accept both
720p and 1080i formats, broadcasters will be able to
select either of these formats - even on a
programme-by-programme basis. Taking into account that
production and emission standards do not need to be
identical, further EBU studies on Production standards
for HDTV in Europe are in progress. This work is not
intended to result in a recommendation for a single
standard for HDTV production.

Austria

FAHRENHEIT 9/11 TO AIR ON NOVEMBER 1
Austrian public broadcaster ORF is joining the ranks
of broadcasters that will show Michael Moore's
anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" on November 1,
only months after its theatrical release. German
commercial channel ProSieben will broadcast "9/11" on
the same evening. ORF will run "Fahrenheit" as the
climax of its U.S. election background coverage, which
includes two other critical documentaries over the
next two weeks: "People Like Us: Social Class in
America," by Andrew Kolker and Louis Alvarez, and
Robert Greenwald's "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on
Journalism."

Czech Republic

PARLIAMENTARY CHANNEL TO START THIS MONTH
Members of both houses of Parliament soon will be
watched more closely than ever before. 24.cz, a
television station that will broadcast the day-to-day
activities of the country's MPs, begins trial
broadcasting October 28. The channel, which will be
available also on cable and via Astra satellite, will
operate under the Region Media company umbrella and
has a 12-year broadcasting license. UPC will not
support the company financially but will provide
technical support and signal distribution. 24.cz is
scheduled to begin "regular" broadcasting Nov. 17, the
15th anniversary of the 1989 revolution, and in time
it may evolve into a comprehensive news channel.

Finland

BROADCASTERS CRITICISED OVER MOBILE BILLS
Finland's consumer watchdog said on October 11 it had
reprimanded broadcasters for causing children to run
up huge mobile phone bills with interactive television
game and chat programs. In one case a child played a
television game as though it were a computer game,
sending enough text messages to get a bill of ?1,200.

France

PRIVATE GOLD ON NOOS CABLE
Private Media Group Inc announced on October 14 the
launch of the Private Gold television channel on Noos,
the largest cable television operator in France,
following an agreement with Private Blue and Gold
Broadcasting, a Private Media Group Licensee. Under
the terms of the agreement, the Private Gold channel
will be offered to Noos subscribers from October 18 as
part of a premium channel package on a monthly
subscription basis. The adult entertainment channel
will be broadcast from midnight to 5 am seven days a
week. Private Gold is currently available in more than
40 countries around the world.

TF1 GETS GOVERNMENT BACKING
A government commissioner has found in favour of TF1's
challenge of DTT licences awarded to the Canal Plus
group. In his conclusions, the commissioner
recommended cancelling the licences to the channels
Sport+, i-Tele, Planete, CineCinema, Premier, iMCM,
and Canal j. The decision does not affect the premium
channel Canal +. In its complaint, TF1 pointed out
that Canal + and the Lagardere Group jointly
controlled two of these channels, iMCM and Canal-j and
so should be counted among the licences awarded to
both of the operators. At the time of the call for
tenders, the upper limit was five channel licences per
operator. This upper limit for licences has now been
amended to seven, but the commissioner considered that
the law as it was at the time should be applied.

Germany

SAT.1 SALE DENIED
Leading commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media
will not sell its Sat.1 station, chief executive
Guillaume de Posch told German news magazine Focus,
dismissing rumours of a sale, in an interview to be
published on October 9. Earlier, Sueddeutsche Zeitung
had reported rumours that ProSieben's biggest
shareholder Haim Saban could sell Sat.1. America's
Walt Disney Co was cited as an interested buyer.

SCIENTIFIC-ATLANTA CHOSEN FOR DVB-T PROJECT
Following the successful deployment of its technology
in Germany's DVB-T pilot project in Berlin,
Scientific-Atlanta Europe has been selected to supply
its technology for the next two deployments in and
around the cities of Cologne, Bonn, Bremen and
Hanover. The Cologne/Bonn project started on May 24,
with the deployment in the Hamburg, Düsseldorf and
Ruhrgebiet areas commencing in November.
Scientific-Atlanta's technology will help provide
digital terrestrial television to a potential audience
of 24 million viewers. The demands of DVB-T are that
four channels must be transported at a bit rate of
13.2 mbps to enable blanket coverage for consumers
using either rooftop or indoor portable aerials. This
will also support customers using mobile reception.

HISTORY CHANNEL TO LAUNCH NOVEMBER 15
AETN International has unveiled a November 15 launch
date for History Channel's long-awaited German debut,
and has inked a deal with ZDF Enterprises for local
content. Adding to the Sunday night branded block on
public broadcaster ZDF, the new German-language pay
network will draw on the AETN library and some locally
produced and acquired German-themed history
programming. The channel will be carried on Kabel
Deutschland through its new digital programme package,
Kabel Digital Home. The pay platform, competing with
satellite platform Premiere, launched at the end of
September with a slew of international channels
including E! Entertainment, BBC Prime, AXN, Sci-Fi,
Nat Geo, Planet, ESPN Classic Sports, MTV Hits, MTV
Dance, VH1 Classic, Trace TV and Playboy TV. According
to vice-president of programming and production at
AETN International, Michael Katz, the company's second
international channel, Biography, will launch into key
European territories in the first quarter of 2005.
Other plans for 2005 include the launch of a new
themed factual channel called i24: Investigation TV,
dedicated to crime-related factual programming.

TV AD REVENUE ON THE INCREASE
German TV ad revenue totaled ?5.3 billion over the
first nine months of the year -- a year-over-year
increase of about 3.2% -- according to figures
released on October 14 by Nielsen Media Research.
Despite the good news, TV continued to underperform in
the total German advertising market, which grew 5.7%
compared with the first nine months of 2003, according
to Nielsen.

Hungary

CR TO BID FOR ANTENNA HUNGARIA
The Czech telecommunications firm Ceske
radiokomunikace (CRa) will take part in a
privatization tender for the state-owned Hungarian
broadcaster Antenna Hungaria, according to the
Hungarian business weekly HVG. The weekly says CRa is
one of six foreign investors to express interest in
the company. The others are France's Telediffusion,
Portugal Telecom, Spain's Retevision, Italy's
Telespazio, and the venture capital firm Advent
International. The Antenna privatization has been
postponed several times already, but the state
privatization agency recently announced that it wants
to complete the tender by the end of 2004. The
government controls 73.7 % of the telecommunications
firm and wants to sell the whole stake to a strategic
investor.

Ireland

BROADCASTERS READY TO ACCEPT FINE SYSTEM
Private radio and TV companies have said they would be
willing to accept a system of fines or "penalty
points" for breaches of broadcasting regulations. The
Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI), which
represents commercial stations throughout the State,
said at present there was no flexibility when stations
broke the rules. The regulator, the Broadcasting
Commission of Ireland (BCI), either wrote to stations
warning of the breaches or removed licences
altogether, said the IBI.

Italy

POLICE DISCOVER SATELLITE PIRATE
Brescia Finance Police have discovered the first and
only case in Europe of satellite piracy. A TV
broadcaster with very sophisticated technology was
discovered using frequencies to broadcast scrambled
sport and mature content programmes. Also discovered was
a network of customers with smart cards retailing at
?100 each, as the result of an investigation conducted
in Italy and France over the course of a year.

SCIENTIFIC-ATLANTA AND SIRTI TO HELP RAI DTT LAUNCH
In order to meet a strict government deadline for
establishing digital transmission over its terrestrial
network, Rai Way selected a Sirti - Scientific-Atlanta
Europe NV DVB-T digital transport solution to serve
RAI, the national public broadcaster in Italy. The new
Scientific-Atlanta satellite uplink system has been
installed in Rome for Rai Way to operate as it manages
the national public broadcast network for RAI in
Italy. The new digital system went into operation in
early January 2004 following integration and
installation by Sirti. The Scientific-Atlanta
satellite uplink system is used by Rai Way to provide
programming to feed the digital transmitters covering
major cities in Italy. The new uplink system replaces
an aging system, and will also deliver satellite
programming to DTH customers. The system supplied will
distribute programs for RAI's DTH European satellite
programs and two national digital terrestrial
bouquets.

A.S. ROMA SIGNS PAY-TV DEAL
AS Roma has announced that it had signed a ?102
million TV deal with Sky Italia to have its games
broadcast via the satellite TV service for the next
two seasons.

Poland

TVN IPO IN DECEMBER
Private Polish TV station TVN will debut on the Warsaw
Stock Exchange (WSE) in December or early in 2005, an
analyst close to the deal told Interfax on October 13.
TVN's parent company, Polish media group ITI, hopes to
raise $100-150 million through the planned
three-tranche IPO. Foreign investors will be offered
40-50% of shares, with 30-40% offered to domestic
institutional investors and 10-20% to domestic retail
investors. The offer will not involve a capital
increase and is aimed, among other things, at bringing
liquidity to the parent company, the ITI group, and to
minority investors engaged in ITI.

Portugal

RTL GROUP ENTERS TV MARKET
RTL Group on October 4 announced the acquisition of a
strategic shareholding of 11.6% in the share capital
of Grupo Media Capital, a leading Portuguese media
company. The shareholding was sold to RTL Group by
Hicks Muse Tate & Furst, a leading global private
investment firm. Grupo Media Capital is the leading
television broadcaster in Portugal, measured by both
prime-time audience share and net advertising revenue,
through the free to air broadcaster TVI.

Spain

WORLD TV PREMIERE OF "FAHRENHEIT 9/11" ON CANAL PLUS
The world TV premiere of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit
9/11" will take place in Spain. Premium pay-TV channel
Canal Plus Espana will air the documentary October 25,
eight days before the U.S. presidential election. It
will screen at 22:00, repeat a half-hour later on a
multiplexed channel and air for the final time at
22:00 on October 26. "Fahrenheit 9/11" grossed ?3.9
million through October, making it the
highest-grossing documentary in Spain.

Sweden

CANAL DIGITAL SVERIGE OPTS FOR KREATEL BOXES
Kreatel Communications on October 11 announced that it
has signed an agreement with Canal Digital to provide
it with set-top boxes and software for the IPTV launch
to Swedish consumers. Canal Digital, Sweden's largest
provider of digital television, is now making its TV
offering available also over broadband IP networks,
with Kreatel as one of its suppliers of set-top boxes
for the service. With a set-top box from Kreatel and a
subscription from Canal Digital, Swedish consumers
will have access to many TV channels and video on
demand delivered with highest video quality. As IPTV
and video on demand consists of highly valuable
content, content rights owners require the data to be
encrypted. The Kreatel IP-STB System contains the
security solution that receives and decrypts the
signal, making the content available for the
subscriber on the TV screen. Canal Digital is fully
owned by Telenor and is Sweden's largest distributor
of digital television. Canal Digital offers
approximately 80 TV channels, 20 music channels, and
interactive services over cable, satellite and
broadband.

Turkey

WARNER BROS SIGNS OUTPUT DEAL
US major Warner Bros International TV Distribution has
inked a multi-year free-to-air deal with Turkish
distributor SAR-AN International for an unspecified
number of years. The terms give SAR-AN the TV rights
to films, series and cartoons from the new WBITV slate
including Harry Potter titles Sorcerer's Stone and
Chamber of Secrets, The Last Samurai, Matrix Reloaded
& Revolutions and Ocean's Eleven. Cartoons in the
package include Duck Dodgers and Baby Looney Tunes.
SAR-AN, run by Alan Saran, also exclusively represents
companies including Hallmark Channel, AETN
International, ESPN and Sportfive inside Turkey.

Regards Satdude. :D
 

Satdude

Regular Member
Messages
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Likes
0
My Satellite Setup
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My Location
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#8
Satellite news 25.10.04

News

UK

CHANNEL 4 AND BS*yB FAVOURITES FOR CRICKET RIGHTS
Channel 4 is favourite to retain the broadcast rights
to England's home international cricket Test matches
following the personal intervention of new chief
executive Andy Duncan and the effective withdrawal of
the BBC from the race. The broadcaster has bid an
estimated £45 million for the three-year contract,
although that figure is poised to rise with the
England Cricket Board hoping to drive up the price
following a successful summer for the Test side.
Initial bids for the contract were due in last week
and sources close to the talks believe Channel 4 and
BS*yB are favourites to renew their shared deal, which
ends next year. Under the present contract Channel 4
shows the majority of Test matches, while the pay-TV
service shows home one-day internationals, with
highlights on the terrestrial channel. Channel 4
currently pays the ECB £19 million a year, with S*y
contributing about £21 million. In all, the ECB makes
about £50 million a year from TV rights and hopes to
raise that to £60 million for the next contract, which
runs from 2006 to 2008.

EXPRESS SHOPPING CHANNEL ON AIR
Northern & Shell owner Richard Desmond is calling his
new TV venture the Express Shopping Channel, hoping
readers of the newspaper will be tempted to buy
clothes, home ware and DIY goods. The Express
proprietor launches his first foray into the
competitive world of home shopping on October 20 as a
joint venture between Northern & Shell and mail order
shopping business the N Brown Group. Desmond's empire
also includes OK!, New and Star magazines as well as
adult channels including the Fantasy Channel. The
explosion in multichannel television has led to a rash
of shopping channels, but QVC remains the most
profitable by far. Desmond said he had invested "a
couple of million" in the joint venture, which is
expected to break even within two years. Northern &
Shell will provide all the studio space and
transmission for the channel, which will include six
hours of live broadcasting a day, producing it from
newly refurbished studios at the company's
headquarters in London's Docklands.

ITV NEWS CHANNEL LEAVES FREEVIEW
ITV News Channel has been pulled off Freeview outside
London for essential engineering work, loosing an
estimated 4 million TV homes. Viewers with Freeview
will get the ITV News Channel back in some regions
next month, but the network will not be available
nationally via digital terrestrial TV again until the
beginning of next year, when the engineering work is
completed. ITV News Channel is still available to
around 10 million digital satellite and cable
subscribers, but Freeview box owners outside London
switching to channel 41, where the ITV news service is
normally located, will find only an onscreen message
saying that the network is temporarily unavailable.
The engineering work that has taken ITV News Channel
off air is linked to a reorganisation of the
broadcaster's capacity on Freeview to make room for
the launch of ITV3. ITV3 is due to launch on Freeview
channel 34 on November 1 and promos for the digital
channel are due to begin running October 25.

GAVIN INTERESTED IN BBC COMMERCIAL ASSETS
According to the Guardian, Rupert Gavin, the former
chief executive of BBC Worldwide, has set up a company
to bid for any of the BBC's commercial assets that may
be put up for sale. The venture, Kingdom Media, will
reportedly look towards a wholesale acquisition of any
of the BBC's commercial assets, or a joint venture
with the organization. There has been much speculation
about the future of BBC Worldwide since
director-general Mark Thompson announced a wide-scale
review earlier this year.

RACING UK HALFWAY THERE
Racing UK has announced it has reached halfway in its
attempts to attract a target of 20,000 subscribers to
the new channel. The dedicated racing channel, owned
by 30 of Britain's courses, launched its subscription
service on October 1. It now reports the number of
subscribers to the channel has exceeded the 10,000
mark. Executive chairman Simon Bazalgette said: "This
is a remarkable figure to have attained within a week
of the launch and exceeds our expectations."We have
set ourselves a target of 20,000 subscribers within
the next 12 to 18 months, and to have reached the
halfway stage in week one is very encouraging.

ITV GOES INTERACTIVE
ITV is set to roll out its interactive brand, ITVi, as
a 24/7 service this week. ITVi originally launched
interactive TV services on =ITV1 and ITV2 in May 2003.
This week will see the introduction of a range of 24/7
interactive initiatives. The content includes
co-branded Littlewoods Game On, ITVi's which has been
re-branded and re-launched to coincide with the launch
of ITVi 24/7and the Bringin' Home The Bacon campaign.
GTV, ITVi's games service developed in conjunction
with Playjam, will also gain more exposure.

S*y PROMOTES FREE-TO-AIR SATELLITE
BS*yB's low-key launch of digital satellite platform
Freesat took place on October 21, offering viewers 150
free-to-air digital television and radio channels for
a one-off cost of £150. Concerned that the free
service might cannibalize its pay TV offering, BS*yB
executives have kept relatively silent about the
Freesat launch. BS*yB has not announced what channels
will be offered on Freesat, but it will not feature
S*y's most popular brands, such as S*y One, Paramount
Comedy, E4, Gold or Living because the channels
operate on a subscription only basis. According to
trade sources, the new system will be launched using
refurbished S*y Digital boxes and modified smart cards
that will give viewers access to encrypted channels
for up to two years. BS*yB is hoping to subsequently
convert as many viewers as possible to pay-TV. The
move comes after the apparent breakdown of talks
between BS*yB and the BBC about collaborating on a
Freesat service.

BBC CONSIDER FILM CHANNEL
The BBC has responded to criticism that it spends £85
million a year on acquired Hollywood movies at the
expense of domestic production, by considering the
launch of a new channel dedicated to UK films.
Director general Mark Thompson told an all-party media
select committee that the BBC could explore the option
with another broadcaster to determine whether there is
enough room for such a channel in the UK. At present,
the BBC spends £10 million on British film product.
Thompson said that he would review the £85 million
American budget but added that TV audiences may want
the same quality of films as those who went to the
cinema.

BBC SIGNS OUTPUT DEAL
The BBC said on October 20 that it has snatched
exclusive U.K. TV rights to U.S. comedies "Arrested
Development" and "Family Guy" from Twentieth Century
Fox Television Distribution. Seasons 1 and 2 of
"Family Guy" previously aired on Channel 4. The BBC
also has bought the exclusive rights to the upcoming
Fox comedy "American Dad."


Europe

Croatia

RTL TELEVIZIJA CONFIRMS LEADERSHIP POSITION
RTL Televizija, RTL Group's TV channel in Croatia,
achieved the best audience results since it started
broadcasting at the end of April 2004 with a prime
time (19:00 - 23:00 hrs) market share of 49.2 per cent
and a total daytime market share of 39.5 per cent on
15 October 2004. Big Brother which is currently
broadcast on RTL Televizija was the most watched
programme on 15 October with an audience share of 56.4
per cent*. RTL Televizija, RTL Group's Croatian TV
channel based in Zagreb, started broadcasting on 30
April. It achieved the leading market position in its
first full month of operations. In June 2004, RTL
Group increased its shareholding in RTL Televizija to
58 %.

France

SIX DTT LICENSES CANCELLED
France's highest administrative appeal court ordered
on October 20 the cancellation of six digital
terrestrial television broadcasting licenses
controlled by French television group Canal Plus and
media group Lagardere. Analysts said the Conseil
d'Etat decision could further delay France's
long-awaited entry into the digital terrestrial TV
era, scheduled to begin in March with 15 free-access
channels and in September with pay-TV digital
broadcasting. The ruling follows a complaint by rival
commercial broadcaster TF1 that Canal Plus violated a
legal limit of five digital broadcasting licenses and
effectively held seven licenses because it jointly
owned the i-MCM and Canal J channels with the
Lagardere group. France's audiovisual watchdog, the
Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel, said on October 21
that it will try to ensure the country launches its
digital terrestrial television broadcasting program in
March as scheduled. "We will do our best to maintain
the schedule we have announced, in the general
interest, and keeping in mind that France is two or
three years behind some of its European neighbors in
entering the digital terrestrial television era," CSA
head Dominique Baudis said at a news conference.

GLOBECAST DELIVERS PINK TV
Satellite services company GlobeCast is set to
broadcast Pink TV in France via its satellite
television distribution platform on Hot Bird, in
partnership with leading French television bouquet
TPS. Pink TV, a mature content-themed television channel, will
gain access to a potential audience of 1.3 million TPS
subscribers. GlobeCast - a subsidiary of France
Telecom - manages proprietary Direct-to-Home satellite
television platforms in Europe, America, Australia,
Africa and Asia. In addition to distributing numerous
channels for TPS in France, GlobeCast's DTH capacity
on Hot Bird brings over 100 channels to a potential 98
million cable and DTH satellite television homes in
Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. GlobeCast is
providing Pink TV with an end-to-end satellite
delivery solution, including fibre connectivity from
the channel's headquarters in Lorient, France, to the
GlobeCast/TPS platform multiplex south of Paris.
GlobeCast manages encryption, uplink and space
capacity for the platform on the Hot Bird satellite at
13°E. Pink TV is included in the TPS (Electronic
Program Guide) EPG and is available through
subscription. Pink TV is a general programming channel
mainly targeted to the mature content and mature content community, as
well as to a wider audience. Pink TV's program grid
includes series, films, investigative reports, music
and personal ads.

Germany

MTV AND VIVA TO RELAUNCH CHANNELS
Germany's new music TV monopoly, the twin Viacom
subsidiaries MTV Networks and VIVA, announced on
October 22 that the profiles of their channels will be
altered in 2005 to appeal to different segments of the
German audience. The new joint strategy aims to enable
the companies to complement each other instead of
competing for the same viewer. MTV will reduce the
amount of music it plays and will concentrate on more
show formats to appeal to a target audience of 16-25
year-old males. Meanwhile, VIVA will develop its own
productions and focus on both home-grown and
international acts to cover the female 10-29 year-old
audience. Meanwhile, MTV parent Viacom, which in
summer initially acquired 76% in Viva from major
stakeholders, has been reported to now hold 95% in the
music web group. Viacom is now testing a squeeze-out
for the remaining shares.

HISTORY CHANNEL LAUNCHES GERMAN SERVICE
The History Channel will launch a 24-hour
German-language service on November 15 as part of a
new digital cable package on Kabel Deutschland. A
statement by A&E Television Networks added that the
company would sign a licensing agreement with public
broadcaster ZDF to acquire programming from ZDF's huge
library to broadcast on the new channel. The two
companies have worked together since 1995, producing
"a number of acclaimed contemporary history
documentaries and mini-series," said the AETN
statement.

PROSIEBENSAT1 CUTS FORECAST FOR TV AD GROWTH
Leading free-to-air broadcaster ProSiebenSAT1 has
scaled back its expectations for growth of the TV
advertising market this year, its chairman Guillaume
de Posch said in a newspaper interview on October 18.
ProSiebenSAT1 was currently planning growth for the TV
advertising market this year of zero to two per cent,
de Posch told the Financial Times Deutschland.
Previously, the broadcaster had been counting on
growth of about two per cent in 2004.

STORM OVER LICENSE FEE INCREASE
A storm was brewing on October 18 in Germany over the
latest TV license-fee increase, which for the first
time ever is likely to come out lower than recommended
by an independent commission. In January, the
commission recommended a raise of ?1.09 per month to
?17.24 per month per household for the next four
years. But last week it was the politicians' turn, and
the state premiers proposed only an ?0.88 raise. The
fee, which makes up the lion's share of budgets for
pubcasters ARD, ZDF and regional public channels, must
now be ratified by the state parliaments, generally a
formality. ARD and ZDF receive a combined $8 billion
from license fees, with ARD and its 17 affiliates
getting the lion's share. They also take in an
additional $350 million a year in advertising.

EUTELSAT SIGNS PRIMACOM DEAL
Eutelsat's German programming distribution arm
visAvision has agreed a strategic co-operation for the
distribution of German pay-per-view content for cable
networks. Under the terms of the deal, visAvision will
market the German Kabelvision services of cable
operator PrimaCom's Decimus subsidiary. In return,
PrimaCom will market visAvision's 22 foreign language
channels to its customers. Decimus will also install
and operate an uplink to Eutelsat's Telecom 2D
satellite in Leipzig. The deal marks a significant
advancement in visAvision's presence in German cable
markets. It is now able to market 12 German programmes
and pay-per-view services. As a result of the deal,
Decimus, a 100% subsidiary of PrimaCom has terminated
with immediate effect the Cooperation Agreement with
Spacecom., Ramat Gan, Israel concerning the use of the
Satellite Transmisison Capacities (Amos 1 and Amos 2)
by mutual consent.

Italy

MEDIASET CHOOSES NAGRAVISION'S CONDITIONAL ACCESS
SYSTEM
Nagravision on October 19 announced a strategic
agreement with the Mediaset Group, Italy's most
important privately-owned communications and
broadcasting group. Under the terms of the agreement,
Nagravision, which is part of the Kudelski Group, will
secure pay-per-view (PPV) offerings over Mediaset's
digital terrestrial platform, the first commercial
digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) service in Italy
scheduled to launch in 2005. Nagravision's innovative
content security solution is based on smart cards
which can be recharged during a limited time period.
Italian customers will be able to buy them in stores
to watch the live broadcasting of football matches of
the Italian Premiere League. Mediaset has secured
digital terrestrial premium football TV rights for the
next three seasons from leading Serie A clubs Inter,
Juventus, Milan, Roma, Sampdoria, Atalanta, Livorno
and Messina. To offer Mediaset maximum commercial
flexibility, the smart cards provided by Nagravision
will be event-based and rechargeable. Nagravision will
download its conditional access technology on to the
DTT-enabled set-top boxes already deployed and work
with all digital set-top box manufacturers in the
Italian retail market to enable the timely launch of
this service.

GOVERNMENT TO PRIVATISE RAI
At a press conference on October 20 to launch RAI's
new digital channel RAI Utile, the Italian
communications minister, Maurizio Gasparri, told
reporters that the government will go ahead with plans
to privatize the country's state broadcaster. The
Italian Treasury Department is ready to launch a
search for investment banks and advisors to oversee
privatization, explained Gasparri. He expects the
privatization process to start next March or April.

Malta

DIGITAL CABLE TV FROM 2005
Melita Cable will be launching Malta's first digital
cable television early next year, according to
Chairman Joe Gasan. Among other features, the new
service will include more than 15 new channels and
improved sound and picture quality. Football fans will
have six live-feeds from the Italian Serie A and the
British Premier league for which, Gasan explained,
Melita Cable has contracted exclusive rights. Asked
about the price and the exact date when digital TV
will be launched, Gasan said that the company had
still not fixed the prices as it was waiting for the
results of a survey it was conducting among a sample
of Maltese families. Those currently subscribing to
the family pack will not see a drastic increase,
despite being offered extra 15 channels. Regarding the
official launch date, he said that given the
complexity of the project, both from a technical and
financial aspect, the company felt that it could not
set a fixed date as yet. He added, however, that it
will certainly be in the first quarter of 2005. Asked
by The Malta Independent whether the system will be
interactive - by which viewers can participate in
polls or interactive marketing schemes - Gasan said
that that this technology will not be introduced
straightaway but will be included at later date.

Russia

NO PLANS FOR PRIVATISATION OF STATE BROADCASTERS
The Russian government is not planning to privatize
mass media companies of strategic importance,
including the All-Russian State Television and Radio
Company (VGTRK), the state-owned Russian Television
and Radio Broadcasting Network (RTRS) and the Mosfilm
studios, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zhukov told a
government meeting on October 21. "We propose that a
number of mass media companies of strategic importance
should not be privatized, including VGTRK and RTRS, as
well as archives, libraries, museums, theatres and
philharmonics that are of federal importance," Zhukov
said. He also said that the government plans to keep
18 per cent of state companies currently operating in
the power, communications and industrial sectors as
federal property.

Spain

AD PROFITS UP FOR MEDIASET
Proceeds from advertising at ?528 million in the first
nine months of the current year for a 26% growth rate
with respect to the same period last year. This is one
of the results realized by Publiespana, a Telecinco
concessionary, communicated by the Mediaset Group. The
growth in advertising proceeds in the 2004 Q3 was
equal to 30.5% with respect to the 2003 Q3. The
television network also obtained an audience share of
22.1% over the 24 hour period, more than its direct
competitors Antena (20.5%) and Tve-1 (21.8%).

TWO NEW COMMERCIAL TV CHANNELS
The Government is considering opening up the
commercial TV market to two new entrants. The new TV
licences, with a nation wide coverage, are likely to
be awarded over the coming months. Spanish media group
Prisa, owner of pay-TV channel Canal Plus, is expected
to be one of the licensees, with Canal Plus set to
become a free-to-air channel. For the second licence,
there are several candidates: Media group Recoletos,
owner of financial newspaper Expansion; Unedisa, owner
of El Mundo; Vocento, shareholder in Tele 5; Group
Zeta or Godo. This licence might be awarded to one
single company or more likely to a consortium. The
Government is said to have plans to privatise the
second TVE channel La 2 to make this second new
station possible. The final decision is expected in
February next year, when a group of TV experts,
appointed by the Government, are due to release their
report about a new public TV model.

Regards Satdude. :D
 

JohnC

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Im always amazed at all the info you provide Satdude..... must be like a full time job providing it all for us...
Many thanks... John
 

Satdude

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Satellite news 09.11.04

News

New designer Sky+ boxes target style gurus

A new range of 'designer Sky+ boxes have been launched as part of Sky's Christmas promotional campaign. The 'Designer Collection' is a series of Sky+ boxes featuring artwork from five prints from top British designers. A spokesman claimed: "The Sky+ Designer Collection will attract both style gurus and urban trendsetters thanks to the range of designers involved in the project, providing a focal point for any living room that the style conscious among us will be proud to show off." Designs in the collection include 'Dragonfly and Kaleidoscope' by Matthew Williamson, 'French Knot' by Neisha Crosland, 'Rainbow Graffiti' by Wale Adeyemi and 'Popcorn Flower' by Eley Kisimoto. The collection is on sale in the Tekzone at Selfridges London, Selfridges Manchester Trafford Centre and Selfridges Birmingham.

Impressive ratings for new ITV3 channel

The UK's newest digital channel, ITV3, has debuted with nearly half a million viewers tuning in to watch a detective drama starring John Hannah. Rebus, based on the novels by crime writer Ian Rankin, attracted an average of 498,000 viewers for the new digital channel aimed at the over-35s. The unofficial overnight figures made ITV3 the second most popular non-terrestrial channel after Living TV. As part of the launch of the station, ITV2 moved from Sky channel 175 to channel 118 while ITV3 is on Sky channel 119. The channel shows contemporary British dramas and archive programmes such as Cracker, Sherlock Holmes, The Darling Buds of May, Wycliffe and PD James.

New time-shifted channels launch on Sky

New time-shifted versions of UKTV G2 and Sky Travel have joined the Sky Digital line-up. UKTV G2 +1 and Sky Travel +1 provide viewers with the chance to watch programmes from the UKTV G2 and Sky Travel respective schedules one hour later. Sky Travel +1 is svaila le on channel 140 while UKTV G2 +1 is on air nightly between 9pm and 4am on channel 256. Following the launch, Sky Travel Extra has moved to channel 141.

Football TV ratings fall to ten-year low

TV audiences for live Premiership football matches have fallen to their lowest level for 10 years, according to new official figures from BARB. The average number of viewers watching each game so far this season has dropped to 1.048 million, a 16 per cent fall over the same period last year, prompting concern that the recent decline in gate receipts is mirrored among viewers. The figures show a 23 per cent decline on last season's overall average of 1.356 million viewers per game. They are also the lowest average since 1994-95, when broadcasts involving England's top 20 clubs drew audiences of 973,000. Sky blames the Olympic Games and the Ryder Cup, which clashed with nine early season games, for part of the decline.

New wine channel launches on Sky Digital

Wine TV has launched on Sky Digital channel 253. The free-to-air station for wine lovers is dedicated to the theme of wine, the lifestyle of wine lovers and related subjects. It is on air 24 hours a day.

Fox to launch business news TV channel

Rupert Murdoch has confirmed that Fox is considering launching a business news channel to rival CNBC. According to media reports in the US, Murdoch said Fox is "capable of doing it very quickly." He said the cable channel would be launched in "the foreseeable future," depending on distribution negotiations, which are "only just beginning." It follows CNN's decision to close down CNNfn. The channel would be almost certain to launch on Sky Digital, which is also part Murdoch-owned.

Digital TV news in brief...

A new free-to-air Czech Parliamentary Channel called '24.cz' is to launch on Astra 19.2° East from 17th November... The BBC is reportedly unlikely to sell its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. Instead, it will set new targets to double profits at the commercial arm - valued at up to £1.5 billion... Zee Music o Sky channel 809 is becoming a free-to-air service from November 15.

BBCi to use Ceefax page numbering

BBCi is set to add page numbers to its digital teletext and video services this month using the same page numbers as Ceefax. Consumer research suggests that page numbers are easy, memorable and an effective way to reach the content. This can be seen with viewers who have grown up with the page numbers used by Ceefax as a method of navigation - with most viewers knowing their favourite page numbers off the top of their head. The introduction of page numbers forms part of a wider plan to improve BBCi, following the introduction of a faster service earlier this year, and is a means of encouraging more digital viewers to make the leap from analogue to digital.

Regards Satdude. :D
 

Satdude

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Satellite news 22.11.04

News

Auctionworld goes off air after £450k fine

TV regulator Ofcom has levied a huge fine of £450,000 on TV shopping channel Auctionworld after receiving hundreds of complaints about the service. The regulator slammed the company for having a "severely inadequate" standard of customer service after it continuously refused to deal with customers' goods not arriving on time. It is also accused the channel of vastly overestimating the High Street value of its goods. The only way Auctionworld can escape the revocation of its licence is by adhering to an eight-point list of requirements, including reading out a statement three times a day for 21 days saying that it has been found guilty of "extremely serious" breaches. If Auctionworld fails to meet all eight points within six months it will lose its licence immediately. Meanwhile, both Auctionworld and sister station Chase-It.tv are off air and it is not currently known when they will return.

Fashion TV leaves S*y Digital line-up

Fashion TV has been removed from S*y Digital channel 220 after its programmes went off air during the afternoon of Friday (November 19). Industry pundits believe the channel will return to S*y Digital at a later date although this has not been confirmed by the channel.

New network of regional TV channels planned

Phil Redmond, the chief of TV production company Mersey TV, has announced plans for several new regional digital TV channels. His first step will be the launch of a digital channel on his door step in Liverpool, with funding from public stakeholders, and if this is a success, he hopes the service will grow across the north west and then the whole country. Redmond said: "Instead of a team of commissioning editors deciding what’s a good idea and seeing if the public think so, the public will create the issue and if it registers, it will spark further debate, interest and programming. It allows anyone unfiltered access."

Great British TV calls off Christmas launch

The debut of The Great British Television Channel, a forthcoming celebrity-backed entertainment channel on S*y Digital, has been postponed until the end of January. The new channel had earlier announced that it would go live on Christmas Eve but has delayed this until January 29. It will be available on the same channel as Information TV daily between 4pm and midnight, increasing to 24 hours by June. Backed by Chris Tarrant and musician Richard Digance, the channel will show a regular nightly concert at 11pm plus films and some imported comedy from the US.

S*y and ITV continue conditional access talks

Talks between ITV and S*y regarding conditional access arrangements have been extended by an extra two months. The two broadcaster have failed to come to an agreement on new carriage terms for ITV's digital channels and, as the existing conditional access contract has just expired, the extension was necessary to avoid ITV's channels going off air. A S*y spokesman said: "ITV and S*y have reached a temporary extension over conditional access arrangements relating to digital satellite distribution of ITV1 and ITV2. As a result ITV1 and ITV2 will remain encrypted for the time being. Further discussion will take place in due course." ITV wants to follow the BBC's lead and beam its channels across the UK free-to-air and thereby not use S*y's conditional access system and save itself millions of pounds.

Two new channels launch on S*y Digital

A pair of brand new channels have made their debuts in the S*y line-up. Unlimited TV is available on channel 259 and provides a schedule of alternative 'niche' films and programmes, while Open Access 2 on channel 262 provides air time to new talents looking for exposure. Both channels are available on a free-to-air basis.

S*y Active gets user-friendly new look

S*y has redesigned its interactive services portal, S*y Active, to make it easier to use and more 'sticky' and attractive to viewers. The new format makes greater use of video and editorial content to create a magazine-style channel offering on-demand entertainment and information. S*y says content will be updated daily and changed during the course of the day to appeal to the differing audiences for daytime and evening television.

Digital rock radio station returns to S*y

Rock radio station TotalRock is planning to return to S*y Digital next week - more than a year after it shut down. TotalRock will re-launch on December 1 using WRN's On Air radio service on S*y Digital channel number 938 for approximately three months and then move to its own dedicated channel in 2005.

Racing UK signs up 20,000th subscriber

The subscription-funded horse racing channel Racing UK has registered its 20,000th subscriber just two months after becoming a pay service. It has therefore passed its break-even target a year early. The channel introduced its pay service on October 1 and signed up 10,000 subscribers in its first week. A steady number of subscribers has joined in the weeks since.

Freeview 'to overtake S*y by Christmas 2005'

Freeview is expected to break through the five million homes barrier by the end of this year - and some media experts believe it could even overtake S*y Digital after Christmas 2005. Current Freeview sales are reportedly running at an estimated 50,000 a week, with sales estimates from manufacturers and retailers suggesting they will have shifted three million Freeview boxes by the end of 2004.

Channel 4 and Five call off merger talks

Channel 4 and Five have called off their merger talks and thereby ended a lengthy period of speculation. According to a statement from the two broadcasters, while the benefits of a merger would have been large, the complexity of the deal, which would require a change in the UK's media laws, was what the reason it failed.

Shopping channels to be reshuffled on S*y

Shopping channels on S*y Digital are expected to be given new positions in the EPG line-up from the start of December. The moves are needed in order to allow additional capacity for new shopping services to launch in coming months.

New TV shopping portal is launched

Simply Media TV, the company that runs four shopping channels on S*y, has launched TV-iStreet at www***com, an online TV shopping portal. Users can watch eight category-specific video channels, see relevant infomercials alongside product information and buy them.

Rapture TV unveils brand new TV channel

Rapture TV has announced its new music channel, R:Muzik, will launch on S*y Digital on November 29. The new channel will be available on channel 475, sharing time with The Musicians Channel. Like its existing channel, the new station will target youth viewers.

More of this week's digital TV news in brief...

The TV licence fee is to rise by £5.50 to £126.50 from April, media secretary Tessa Jowell announced... Outkast was the big winner at the 2004 MTV European Video Awards, walking away with the best video, best group and best song awards. The other big winner at the awards, held in Rome, was Usher, who won best male artist and best album... Author Patrick Hamilton’s classic trilogy Twenty Thousand Streets Under the S*y is to be adapted by BBC4 to mark his centenary.

New Bengali channel launches in December

A new Bengali entertainment channel called Channel S will launch on S*y Digital on December 16. The new station will initially share S*y channel 827 with ATN ahead of a full independent launch in February next year.

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Satellite news 08.12.04

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Sky One 'planning new lifestyle channel'

Sky is planning to launch a brand new Sky One spin-off channel, according to press reports. The new digital TV channel is likely to target female viewers with a schedule of lifestyle programmes. Sky One's programming director Jo Wallace is reported to already have held meetings with a number of independent production companies over content for the channel.

'Entertainment Tonight' comes to Sky One

The popular US entertainment news programme Entertainment Tonight is to hit Sky One screens in January when a brand new UK version is launched. Sky One controller James Baker said the new weekly version will be hosted by British presenter Amanda Byram (known for her appearances on The Swan and The Big Breakfast). The UK version of Entertainment Tonight will be shot in Hollywood on the same set used for the US series. "The new show will give UK viewers extensive coverage of all the best celebrity stories from the week and a unique look inside the lives of the UK's most talked-about stars," a Paramount spokesman said. In addition to the new show, Paramount has also licensed to Sky One the half-hour daily US version, which it air on the day after its US broadcast.

New Challenge channel starts December 13

A new time-shifted version of gameshow channel Challenge TV has begun test transmissions on Sky Digital ahead of its official launch next week. Called '52232' at the moment, it is testing at 11.307GHz/H (SR 27500, FEC 2/3). Challenge +1 will be available on Sky Digital channel 122 from December 13.

Sky News reporter joins Channel Five News

Stuart Ramsay, Sky News’ Africa correspondent, is returning to Britain to become chief correspondent of Channel Five News. Stuart Ramsay, formerly Sky News US Correspondent, moved to Johannesburg in 2001 to open the new Sky News bureau and to take his posting as Johannesburg Correspondent.

Red-faced BBC probes bogus interview

The BBC is planning a full investigation into how someone falsely claiming to be from the Dow Chemical group was interviewed live on BBC World. During the incident - during last week's 20th anniversary of the Union Carbide disaster in India - the bogus interview was first carried live on BBC World and then replayed on BBC News 24 and BBC Radio 4. The imposter claimed that Dow accepted responsibility for the disaster, which killed up to 18,000 people, and would "liquidate" its Union Carbide subsidiary. On discovering the interviewee was bogus, the BBC immediately retracted the story and issued a statement on air stating: "This morning at 9.00 and 10.00am, BBC World ran an interview with someone purporting to be from the Dow Chemical company about Bhopal. This interview was inaccurate, part of an elaborate deception. The person did not represent the company and we want to make clear that the information he gave was entirely inaccurate."

Shopping channels get reshuffled on Sky

A reshuffle of the shopping channels on Sky Digital has taken place. The channels are now in one section between channels 630 and 668 instead of being in several sections of the Electronic Programme Guide. Meanwhile, Exchange & Mart TV, which was previously in the shopping section, has moved to the specialist themed section on channel 696.

Grade rejects criticism of BBC3 and BBC4

BBC chairman Michael Grade has rejected a report that says BBC3 and BBC4 should become more mainstream. A government-commissioned independent report by Professor Patrick Barwise on the BBC's digital channels has concluded that BBC3 and BBC4 are too niche in their appeal and that BBC3 is trapped in a "creative straitjacket" and is too focused towards the 25-34 year-old demo. Barwise also believes that BBC4 needs a bigger budget and should be broadened to make it "more like Radio 4 and less like Radio 3." Grade said that although the channels might be unwatched by key parts of the UK audience, "quality and innovation" are more important than reaching a wider audience. He added: "The board agrees that improved reach is a key ambition, but so too is quality, innovation and new programming that improves programming choice to licence payers. It is that more challenging route we want our new services to follow."

Music Choice launches Christmas channel

Music Choice has launched a temporary Christmas channel, an audio-only service featuring traditional favourites, new festive tracks and reworked versions of classic songs. Sky subscribers can find the service, called 'Music Choice: So This Is Christmas', by choosing the 'Main Event' interactive channel.

Racing UK launches broadband TV channel

Racing UK, the subscription horse racing TV channel, has launched a broadband Internet service. A subscription to the broadband service mirrors the digital satellite TV charge of £20 per month, but is available to existing satellite subscribers with a 50% discount. "We are offering access to our existing satellite subscribers at the discounted rate of just £10 per month, which we hope to be able to extend to cable customers in time," said Racing UK Executive Chairman Simon Bazalgette.

Sky One to launch new darts reality series

Sky One is to broadcast a new TV series about the wives of darts players. Darts Players' Wives will focus on characters such as Phil 'The Power' Taylor, Ronnie 'The Rocket' Baxter and Peter 'One Dart' Manly and the women behind them. Sky said that darts players may seem as unlikely s_x symbols, but the game has a huge female following.

Living TV buys plastic surgery series

Living TV has bought several new TV series from the US and Australia dealing with plastic surgery and babies to be aired during its daytime schedule in 2005. The Sky Digital TV channel has acquired Dr 90210 from E Entertainment in the US and Bodywork from Australia - both of which will start airing during January 2005. Kids Ward, a new factual series following events at an Australian children's hospital, will start later in the year.

This week's other digital TV news...

Ron Atkinson, the former ITV football pundit who was forced to resign for making a racist comment live on air, is returning to football commentary on Channel Five... Yoo Media is to buy Digital Interactive Television Group (DITG) and The Gaming Channel (TGC) in a £28 million deal. TGC runs fixed odds and gambling TV channels on Sky including Avago and Channel 425... Financial consultants Ernst & Young have submitted their independent review of the BBC's system of financial controls and concluded that the BBC's procedures are "fundamentally sound"... TV regulator OFCOM is under pressure to rescind its proposal to allow ITV to cut its regional programming quotas... BT is to sell its entire shareholding - 15.8 per cent - in satellite operator Eutelsat for £363m... BBC Broadcast has signed a five year contract to provide Channel Five with ‘level one’ disaster recovery, meaning the Beeb would play out Channel Five should something happen to Five's existing playout facility... Premiere, Germany's largest digital TV operator, has chosen Pace's PDR set-top boxes for its new satellite PDR service... German sports channel DSF has secured exclusive German free TV rights to the Wimbledon tennis championships from 2005 to 2007.

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Satellite news 18.12.04

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Digital TV news in brief...

Euro1080 to launch a second HDTV service called HD-2 in June 2005 which is likely to focus on pay-per-view programming... The eagerly-awaited Great British Television Channel will go live on Sky Digital at 4pm on January 29, 2005... Channel East is set to relaunch and make a return to Sky Digital soon... That TV, a forthcoming channel dedicated to alternative TV with independent films and music, hopes to launch on Sky Digital during 2005... The US investors in NTL and Telewest expect the companies to merge in 2005, according to press reports... BBC Director General Mark Thompson announced that nearly 3,000 jobs are to be lost at the Corporation in a bid to save £320m a year... Granada Sky Broadcasting has sacked 23 staff following ITV's takeover... Telewest is to take on Sky's dominance of the digital PVR market when it launches its own service in the new year... Jetix Europe, formerly called Fox Kids, announced its financial results for the year ended September 30, 2004 and reported that revenues were up 12 per cent... National Geographic TV has sold 13 hours of its wildlife programming to Channel 5... ITV2 has picked up the UK TV rights to the 2005 Grammy Awards.

Eurosport 2 to launch in January

A second sports channel from Eurosport is to launch across Europe on January 10. Called Eurosport 2, the new channel will complement the existing channel and will have a strong focus on live events which will account for a quarter of its 1,800 hours of annual programming. Live events will be broadcast between 2pm-6.30pm and 8pm-11pm on week days, while at weekends they will have slots between 9am-8pm and 9pm-11pm. The new channel, which is not expected to launch in the UK on Sky Digital until later in 2005, will also show regular news bulletins and a daily magazine programme.

Two brand new channels launch on Sky

Challenge TV's time-shifted channel, Challenge+1, has launched on Sky Digital channel 122, while LivingTV's new spin-off channel Living 2 has started on channel 114. Living 2 is available between 9am and midnight every day with a schedule featuring mostly reality TV programmes, along with interactive shows overnight.

Tough new rules for TV shopping channels

The Advertising Standards Authority (the UK's ad watchdog) is to crackdown on TV shopping channels which exaggerate their prices following last month's collapse of Auctionworld. The ASA is to establish new rules banning channels from displaying a recommended retail price for a product if it is the only outlet selling the product. The rules will force home shopping channels to provide proof of claims that a rival is selling a product at a more expensive price. Channels will also have to state that any previous price can only be shown if it has been used for 28 days in the past six months. Andrew Brown of the ASA said: "Clearer pricing guides will lead to fewer disappointed customers, which is good for the both the industry and consumers."

Bonanza and Move Channel get makeovers

Two channels on Sky Digital have re-launched with new names and fresh programme schedules. Bonanza on channel 238 is now known as Majestic TV, and The Move Channel on channel 668 has been replaced by IDMT. IDMT is understood to be the name of a company owned by the two remaining directors of The Move Channel TV plc. The new IDMT channel will focus on home shopping instead of property.

Shop Smart TV removed from Sky line-up

Shopping channel Shop Smart TV has been removed from the Sky Digital line-up for the second time in just two months and is unlikely to return. The station had been available on Sky channel 656.

New religious TV channel launches on Sky

A new religious channel called Christian Family Channel TV - or CFCTV for short - has launched on Sky Digital channel 675. The channel currently is a part-time service airing in the early hours of every morning from 2.30am-4.30am.

Viewers deserting TV for the Web instead

The increasing popularity of broadband Internet access is leading Web users to spend less time watching TV, according to a new survey. A study called 'Evolution of Media Use in Europe - Web Impacting Consumption' by Jupiter Research has found that 27 per cent of European Web users now spend less time in front of their TV, preferring instead to surf the Web. In 2001, just 17 per cent of respondents to a similar survey said they watched fewer hours of TV in favour of the Net.

Channel 4 to launch broadband TV channel

Channel 4 is to start a new broadband TV channel next spring showing documentaries. CEO Andy Duncan said it planned to launch the Internet-only channel to demonstrate that the Web is becoming an increasingly important channel for public service broadcasting. He said the broadcaster is doubling the amount it spends on public service Web sites.

Radio station wins bid to change its name

Ofcom, the government-run media regulator, has approved broadcaster Sunrise Radio's application to change its country music station Easy Radio into an Asian talk station, to be called Kismat Asian Talk Radio. Avtar Lit, the chairman and chief executive of Sunrise, is reported to be delighted with the decision and confirmed that the radio station would be launched in early 2005. Easy Radio is available on Sky Digital channel 923 and in London. It will continue to broadcast on digital radio in London only.

Sky is 'most admired media company'

Sky has been voted the UK's most admired media company. The broadcaster won the vote in a survey of media industry peers - the 'Management Today Most Admired Company Awards'.

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Satellite news 11.01.05

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This week's Digital TV news in brief

Chase-it.tv has been removed from Sky channel 649... Lunn Poly TV has been renamed Thomson TV on Sky channel 637... Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother returned strongly after a two year break last week. On its opening night, the audience peaked at 6.3 million... Ideal Shopping Direct's full-year profit will exceed £4m, the TV shopping company has announced... France's digital TV service TPS announced a record number of new subscriptions in December 2004: 66,588, which is more than double the number it had in December 2003... Childrens channel Fox Kids has been renamed Jetix and had a programming revamp... MTV is shelving its hit reality series The Osbournes, with the next season to be the last... French prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has chosen the MPEG4 standard for the pay-TV offer for DTT in a surprise move that further complicates the platform's launch in France.

BBC hopes to send viewers to sleep!

The BBC hopes to send viewers to sleep with a new programme that uses interactive TV to tackle insomnia. How to Sleep Better is the latest BBC1 show to be fronted by Professor Robert Winston and will air in peak-time on February 2. The programme will be based around the experiences of 100 people who suffer from unsettled sleep patterns. Viewers will be invited to press the red button on their remote control to take part in a survey that will help them identify their sleep profile. The questionnaire will point them towards possible solutions to particular problems.

UK Sci-Fi Channel signs up sponsorship deal

The UK Sci-Fi Channel has signed up its first movie sponsorship for a TV series by signing Fox's forthcoming Elektra movie to sponsor James Cameron's prime time series Dark Angel. The deal marks the first time that a Fox movie has sponsored a TV series. The agreement provides Elektra with a series of promotional trails, Dark Angel sponsorship bumpers and both on-air and online content and promotions.

Military History Channel launches in US

A&E Networks, the broadcaster that runs the History Channel in the US, is to launch a new channel called The Military History Channel this Spring. Programming is to include documentary specials and series on military–themed subjects such as the history of warfare featuring famous and obscure battles. If successful, the channel could well cross the Atlantic and launch in Europe next year.

Eurosport News shuts as Eurosport 2 starts

Eurosport News closed down on Monday (January 10) and was replaced by a brand new sports channel called Eurosport 2. The new station shows additional coverage of sports events that are not covered on Eurosport's main channel in addition to regular sports news bulletins throughout the day. Eurosport is on Sky Digital channel 410 while Eurosport 2 is on channel 411.

Two new free-to-air film channels on Sky

The company that runs shopping channels Bid-Up TV and Price-Drop TV is planning to launch two new free-to-air film channels on Sky Digital. Called 'Real-Movies.tv' and 'Movies On 333', they will fully launch this summer. It's reported that the channels will be a low-cost venture, with an investment of under £3m. "These will be free movie channels aimed at specific demographics and will initially be broadcast on Sky, but we hope to be on other platforms in the future," said spokesman Ashley Faull. Real-Movies.tv will be female orientated, with an emphasis on true stories, while Movies On 333 will focus on Westerns, niche films and possibly British short films.

Sky Travel to broadcast '24' seasonal debut

Sky has decided to broadcast the first new episode of crime drama series 24 on Sky Travel so that viewers on Freeview can see it. Season four opens with a special two-hour episode starting at 9pm on January 30. "The exhibition on Sky Travel gives a wider audience an opportunity to enjoy two hours of amazing television," a Sky spokesman said. He added: "We think that many Sky Travel viewers without access to Sky One will value the opportunity to watch such a great example of the channel's premium US drama offering."

Discovery starts three new UK channels

Discovery Europe has confirmed that it is to launch three new lifestyle channels in the UK this year. Discovery Travel & Living will replace Discovery Travel & Adventure from February 1 and will focus on design, style, architecture, food and travel. The two other newcomes include Discovery Real Time and Discovery Home & Health, which will launch later in 2005 and target men and women respectively. To support next month's launch of Discovery Travel & Living, the broadcaster has bought a range of new programmes. Spokesman David Abraham said: "Discovery Lifestyle Networks is about delivering quality lifestyle programming that provides entertainment, escapism and inspiration in the comfort of your own home."

ITV complains to OFCOM about Sky charges

ITV has made a formal complaint to government regulators about the charges which Sky wants to impose on it for enabling satellite TV viewers to receive the correct regional version of the channel. ITV claims in a statement to OFCOM that Sky's proposed charges are: "unfair, unreasonable and unduly discriminatory and therefore in breach of Sky's obligations under EU and UK law." The complaint comes after the two broadcasters failed to reach an agreement regarding ITV's new contract with Sky, which was supposed to have been renewed in November. A two-month stay of execution was granted but talks reached a stalemate and ITV has since decided that it has no option but to have Sky investigated. ITV wants at least £13m slashed off its annual £17m a year bill for Sky's services to encrypt and regionalise its channel.

Tsunami red button donations top £1m

Tsunami relief donations via Sky News, Channel 4 and The Community Channel's red button services are expected to top £1m. Some 60,000 people have already given in this way. Sinead Hughes, interactive TV editor at The Community Channel, whose red button donations service was set up within days on Sky Interactive, said: “The technology's really proved its worth. It's a perfect example of what can be achieved once we've established a connection with other organisations.”

Sky to launch ad-free TV viewing service

Sky has reportedly patented a new technology that allows viewers to record programmes without any ad breaks. While the Sky + personal video recorder allows users to skip through advertisements, even when played at 30 times normal speed, the ads can still be seen by viewers. Sky hopes to offer a service that allows viewers much greater control. One patent, filed in August 2000, allows viewers to "interrupt the recording of programmes so as not to record adverts". It could also allow viewers to edit shows so that only favourite acts were recorded from music programmes.

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Satellite news 21.01.05

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Channel 5 planning new kids TV channel

Channel Five is planning to launch its own childrens TV channel. The new station is being masterminded by Channel Five's controller of children's programming, Nick Wilson, who plans to use the Channel Five's existing 'Milkshake' kids TV brand to create a daytime station. The proposed channel is one of several options being considered, although no final decision has been made. Five has the option of launching as many as two channels on Freeview but its slots on the platform are currently leased to shopping channels.

New gardening TV channel in March

A new channel for green-fingered viewers is to launch in March. Called UKTV Style Gardens, the channel will be the UK's first dedicated gardening channel and it's expected to include shows like Ground Force, Garden Invaders and Gardeners' World in its schedule.

ITV 'considering buying UKTV channels'

ITV is reported to be considering a bid for UKTV's portfolio of digital TV channels which include UKTV Gold, Drama, History, People, Style and Documentary. The channels are currently run through a joint venture deal between the BBC and Flextech, but such a buy-out would strengthen ITV's digital presence against fierce competition from BBC, Channel Four and Sky. Media watchers believe that such a takeover would be subject to approval by the competition commission.

Two new shopping channels join Sky line-up

A pair of new shopping channels - OneTV and Max TV - are set to launch on January 17 on Sky Digital. OneTV will launch on channel 670 and will be home to familiar presenters Paul Lavers and Debbie Flint. The channel will be different to others in that it will focus on just one product for a full 24 hours. The second newcomer is Max TV, dedicated to video game accessories and gadgets, which will be available on channel 669.


UKTV People starts time-shifted channel

UKTV has launched a time-shifted version of UKTV People. The channel is called UKTV People+1 and shows its programmes one hour after the main service. It's available on Sky Digital channel 591 between 10am and 4am.

New music TV channel to launch on Sky

A new music channel called Fizz TV is to be launched by the company that runs Channel U. The station will be available on Sky Digital and has already begun testing 11.264GHz/H, SR 22000 and FEC 2/3 using the ident '52103'.

Sky One buys up rights to US shows

Sky One has bought the UK rights to new US comedy series Weeds even before the 10-part series has aired in the US, where it is due to debut on Showtime later this year. Sky has also signed up for more episodes of the sci-fi drama Stargate Atlantis and SG-1 with MGM International along with Las Vegas, Dead Like Me and Revelations.

New Teachers' TV channel starts in February

Teachers' TV, a new channel for teachers, is to launch on February 8. Run by the Department for Education and Skills, the channel will provide advice, news and information to a range of teachers - including head teachers, newly qualified teachers, governors and support staff. Teachers' TV will be on air 24 hours a day on Sky Digital and cable. It will be available part-time on Freeview.

Zee TV to launch two new UK channels

Asian broadcaster Zee is to launch its own UK news channel on Sky Digital and a new regional station. The news channel will be called South Asia World and will broadcast live from India with programming focused on local coverage of the South Asian community within the US and the UK. It's expected to launch this Spring. The second new station, Alpha Gujarati, is expected to debut on March 28 and will be aimed at the Gujarati community around the UK.

Sky News to reconstruct Jackson's court trial

Sky is planning to reconstruct the upcoming trial of pop star Michael Jackson on a daily basis in an attempt to get around an order banning cameras from the US courtroom. Sky will link up with E! Entertainment Television and use official transcripts to reconstruct the previous day's courtroom events. The half-hour programme will be screened on both Sky News and Sky One every weekday. Jackson, 46, was charged on nine felony counts by US prosecutors in December 2003 and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

C4 buys up snowboarding TV rights

Channel 4 has acquired exclusive terrestrial rights to the Snowboard World Championships being held in Whistler, British Colombia, between January 15 and 23. The channel will dedicate more than five hours of coverage to the championships, complemented by an agreement with the Extreme Sports Channel for extended highlights across UK, Europe and the Middle East.

Ofcom launches probe into ITV complaint

Government regulators at Ofcom have launched their first investigation into Sky after ITV complained about the charges to be part of its platform. Talks between the two over the amount ITV pays to have its channels encrypted and included on Sky Digital's EPG recently broke down and Ofcom has confirmed that it has launched a probe. ITV pays Sky £17m a year for Conditional Access and EPG services, which enable viewers in each region to receive the correct local news and other regional programmes. ITV is alleging this amounts to overcharging.

FX UK to launch on NTL in the Spring

Fox is celebrate the first anniversary of its UK entertainment channel FX by adding 1.4 million homes to its distribution through a carriage agreement with cable group NTL. It will roll out the new cable service in the spring. "The NTL deal seals a great first year for FX UK," said Fox International Channels UK VP broadcasting and marketing Jason Thorp.

More digital TV news in brief...

On Sky Digital channel 687 Authentic TV has replaced Open Access TV... A fire alarm at QVC's headquarters in London caused a break in live transmission on January 7... Mark Sharman, former Sky executive and once controller of sport at Channel 4, is to replace Brian Barwick, the Football Association's new chief executive, as ITV's controller of sport... Sky has spent £127m on a 22.8m share buy-back plan, representing one per cent of the stock. It comes after the company recently obtained shareholder approval to buy back up to five per cent of its shares... Pace, the manufacturer of set top boxes for Sky and Freeview, has announced that its sales have jumped 36 per cent to £150.5m in the six months ending 4th December... Model Rachel Hunter is to present a new show, searching for the UK's next supermodel for Channel Five.

Champ Car World Series on Eurosport

The Champ Car World Series has finalised its 2005 television schedule. Live coverage of every 2005 series event will be seen on Eurosport and the new Eurosport 2 channel.

X Factor was 2004's biggest interactive show

ITV's The X Factor was the most successful interactive TV show of 2004 with 22 million votes cast during the series. Some 8.5 million votes were cast during the two-hour live grand finale, with 157,000 calls being made during a single minute of the penultimate episode. Viewers were able to vote via premium rate phone lines, SMS and via the red button on digital satellite.

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Satellite news 02.02.05

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Reality TV launches new time-shift channel

Reality TV's new timeshift channel will go on air on Sky Digital channel 188 on Monday (January 31). The free-to-view channel shows the normal schedule of programmes an hour later than the main channel.

Pan-European jobs channel set to launch

The European Union is set to launch a pan-European digital TV jobs channel. The free-to-view station is intended to let EU citizens in 25 member countries access the details of thousands of jobs abroad in seconds using their remote control.

Sky Sports pundit sacked after tsnuami 'joke'

Football pundit Rodney Marsh has been sacked for making a joke about the tsunami disaster during a live programme on Sky Sports. The ex-Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers striker made a 'joke' in which he swapped the word "tsunami" for "Toon Army", the term for Newcastle United supporters. A Sky Sports spokesman said: "These remarks should never have been made and Sky would like to offer its apologies to those who were offended." Marsh made the comments during the live phone-in programme, You're on Sky Sports, and said: "I apologise unreservedly for any offence I caused by my thoughtless and inappropriate comment."

Bravo buys rights to live ultimate fighting event

Bravo has acquired the live UK rights to screen the Ultimate Fighting
Championship’s UFC 51 event from Las Vegas on February 6. UFC 51 will form part of 'Big Fight February', a month of programming on Bravo dedicated to mixed Martial Arts and boxing that includes a 15-part series on the rise of white collar boxing.

Channel 4 to start new games channel?

Channel 4 is reported to be considering the launch of a new gaming channel on Freeview. The station could be an offshoot of the popular 9 Live Quiz TV show which was trialled on E4 last year.

Smooth FM ready for launch on Sky

Jazz and blues radio station Smooth FM has started test transmissions ahead of its official launch within Sky's EPG. Test transmissions for the channel are at 12.324GHz/V, (SR 27500, FEC 2/3) under the name '5742'.

London travel service starts on Sky Active

Transport for London (TFL) is launching the first transport information service for London on an interactive digital TV platform, having clinched a two year deal to start a pilot project with Sky. TFL Journey Planner, Live Travel News and a Licensed Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle search will be available by pressing the red button on Sky Digital remote handsets.

Pace pays £450k after breach of FSA rules

Set-top box maker Pace Micro Technology has reached a settlement with City watchdog the Financial Services Authority (FSA) over the disclosure of financial performance information in 2002. The FSA found Pace broke stock market rules on two occasions that year, but ruled it did not act deliberately or recklessly. Pace said it had agreed to pay a penalty of £450,000 without admitting the FSA's conclusions.

Ofcom joins probe into football TV rights

The European Commission has called in the UK's media regulators to help in its probe into the way the Premier League sells its TV rights, including its £1bn deal with Sky. Ofcom and the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) have been asked to provide advice about the UK broadcasting market and the value of the Premier League's rights. An Ofcom spokesman said in a statement: "The European Union is conducting an ongoing investigation about how the FA Premier League sells its media rights. They have asked Ofcom and the OFT - as the concurrent competition regulators - to provide specialist assistance."

New Asian news channel joins Sky line-up

South Asian news channel Vectone World has launched on Sky Digital channel 537. The free-to-air, 24-hour channel has a similar format to EuroNews with a schedule of video news bulletins and voiceovers without in-view presenters.

Astra mulls launch of satellite radio service

SES Global, the company which operates the Astra satellites, is reported to have held preliminary talks about launching a subscription radio network across Europe. Subscription radio has taken off in the US, where 4.4 million customers pay around £5 ($10) a month to receive more than 100 radio stations via satellite. SES chief executive Romain Bausch has made satellite radio one of the group's main objectives for 2005 as it seeks new uses for satellite technology in Europe. SES will not be involved in programming but is willing to consider a joint venture.

Blinkx launches Web-based TV search engine

Internet search engine Blinkx has launched blinkx.tv, a web site that lets users search for content in TV news bulletins (including BBC News 24 and Sky News), movie trailers and other TV shows. It comes after Yahoo recently released a beta version of its Video Search and as Google pushes debuts its TV search service.


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

A new Christian religious channel called DAYSTAR has replaced CTC TV on Sky Digital 675... Sharon Osbourne will be the lead presenter on Sky's coverage of the Academy Awards ceremony on February 28th... NHK, a Japanese TV network, plans to start a 24-hour news channel in that country and possibly roll it out globally over the next few years... India's religious channel Aastha TV is considering launching on Sky Digital later this year... The broadcaster behind Channel U, which broadcasts a range of music videos, has launched its latest channel, Fizz on Sky Digital channel 468.

ITV2 commissions its first original drama

ITV2 has commissioned its first original drama TV series, with a late night spin-off of Footballers' Wives. The 12 episode series, called Footballers' Wives – Extra Time, will be shown later this year and will closely scripted around the late night shenanigans of the players and their spouses.

Look4Love dating channel launches

A new dating channel called Look4Love TV has launched on Sky Digital channel 685. The Hampshire-based channel enables like-minded viewers to contact each other using their mobile phone.

EuroNews launches new chat programme

Pan-European news channel EuroNews is launching a new programme called Comment that will use a combination of TV, print and on-line channels to encourage interactive dialogue about issues at the heart of the news. Broadcast 6 times per day, in seven languages, Comment will apparently give viewers the chance to discuss topical news stories as never before.

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Satellite news 07.02.05

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Teachers TV launches on Sky this week

New educational channel Teachers TV will launch on Sky Digital and several other digital TV platforms on Tuesday (February 8). Funded by the Department for Education and Skills but editorially independent, the free-to-air channel will be aimed at helping busy teachers with programmes that share ideas and experiences. Teachers TV will be availale on Sky Digital channel 686, NTL channel 803 and Telewest channel 47.


New mature content TV channel starts on Sky Digital

A new TV channel aimed at mature content viewers is to launch on Sky Digital this week. Called mature content Network, the entertainment channel will launch on Sky channel 688 and give mature content and both bi-male and females the chance to communicate with each other.

Sky's subscriber numbers rise again

Sky has reaped the benefit of its major marketing campaign by adding 192,000 subscribers in the second quarter, ahead of the 150,000 expected by analysts. This compares with 193,000 subscribers in the same period a year ago. Total subscribers have now reached 7.6m which keeps the broadcaster on track for its target of reaching 8m subscribers by the end of 2005. Churn was 9.5%, which is down marginally on the previous quarter. Overall sales rose almost 10 per cent to £1.05bn compared with £916m in the same period last year and average revenue per subscriber reached £386. Pre-tax profit for the second quarter came in at £103m, compared with £77m in the same quarter last year. For the first half of the year, revenues were up 10% to £1.945bn and pre-tax profits rose 22% to £250m. Sky+ households increased by 168,000 to 642,000 while Sky multi-room households jumped by 116,000 to 473,000.

South African channel ceases transmissions

South African entertainment channel NSAT has stopped transmissions on Sky Digital channel 837 amid reports that it had been suffering financial problems. NSAT had hoped to become a subscription channel and begin 24-hour broadcasts later this year but the latest problems mean now looks unlikely.

Sound TV announces February launch date

Entertainment channel 'Great British Television' is finally set to launch on Sky Digital this month under a new name. The channel, backed by big names such as Chris Tarrant, comedian Jethro and entertainer Richard Digance, will be called Sound TV and will go on air on Saturday February 26 at 7pm. It has previously had to delay its two previous launch dates. A short promotional trailer about the channel's programmes is airing from 4pm to midnight daily on Information TV on Sky Digital channel 588, which will become the home of Sound TV. The channel's Web site is here.

Microsoft set to enter our living rooms

Microsoft boss Bill Gates has said he believes his company will clinch enough TV deals that it will play as significant a role in living rooms across the world as offices. He sees a time when set-top boxes will snap into a network of digital products – centred on the PC – that distribute video, music and photos around the house. He declined to predict specific revenues but said Microsoft will recoup the $500 million+ it has spent on TV software over the past decade. "It will absolutely pay back those early years," he said. Gates has already committed to another $1bn of spending on entertainment products. He is confident that consumers will want IPTV. "People care about the TV viewing experience. If you can really make it better, it has a really profound impact," he says.

Huge audience for Sky football clash

The top-of-the-table Premiership clash between Arsenal and Manchester United last Tuesday attracted more than 3 million viewers to Sky Sports 1. The figures even beat the ratings of several terrestrial channels.

Sit-Up TV in running for new Freeview channel

TV shopping broadcaster Sit-Up TV has put in a bid to launch a movie channel in Crown Castle’s vacant Freeview slot. Other bidders are reported to include Five, Disney, Universal and Turner. ITV and Channel 4 are considered to be the strongest contenders for the 18-hour slot, with rumoured bids of between £5m and £7m. The winner will be decided by the end of this month before the station goes live on April 1.

Record numbers of interactive ads in January

January 2005 saw the highest number of interactive TV ads on Sky ever. A total of 45 iTV campaigns ran on Sky channels, an increase of 40% on the previous high of January 2004. New brands using iTV for the first time included Virgin EMI, which launched a ground-breaking promotional campaign for the new album by The Chemical Brothers. Other first-time iTV advertisers included Hyundai, Grolsch, First Choice, Suzuki Jimny, American Tourism, Optical Express, Freedom Finance, Ebookers and Skoda.

MTV criticised for promoting s_x

A US TV watchdog has criticised the broadcasting standards of MTV, accusing it of promoting s_x to young viewers. The Parents Television Council (PTC) monitored the channel's output for a week last year and tallied up 3,056 visual references to s_x or nudity, and 2,881 verbal references.


More digital TV news in brief...

Entertainment channel Life TV appears to have gone off air on Sky channel 160... Price Drop TV presenter Sarah Hendy is taking a break from the channel to become a co-presenter on a new live late night programme called Destination3 3 which will focus on the latest news, films and music... BBC1's interactive TV show How to Sleep Better was watched by a peak audience of 7 million viewers... Eutelsat's 2F3 satellite has been destroyed after serving at 16 degrees East, 36 degrees East, 21.5 degrees East (replaced by Eutelsat W3) and finally at 22 degrees East... Ofcom has said it issued 162 new licences to broadcast TV channels in 2004, while 21 were revoked. There are now over 310 channels broadcasting in the UK, including time-shifted channels excluding regional variations and PPV channels... As part of its plan to bring HD TV to German viewers, the Premiere TV network has selected Pace to supply MPEG-4 set-top boxes... Al Jazeera, the Arabic satellite news channel, is to be privatised by its owner, the state of Qatar.

Living TV to launch new airline docu-soap

A new docu-soap which will focus on the lives of flight attendants is to be broadcast on Living TV at the end of March. The as-yet-untitled series will be broadcast every day for two weeks, and there is a possibility of more being screened in the future. The flight attendants all work for Excel Airways and operate out of Gatwick and Manchester airports. The series features the staff not only working on the aircraft but enjoying their time off, giving viewers an insight into the lifestyle of a flight attendant.

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Satellite news 15.02.05

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Extasi TV deemed to be 'unacceptable'

The Government is to restrict access to Extasi TV, an adult TV channel which it says broadcasts 'unacceptable violent mature content'. From the end of February it will be illegal to supply a decoding card or other equipment that gives access to the channel - and the station will also be banned from placing adverts in UK magazines or supplying its TV listings. However, it will not be illegal to watch the channel and anyone who already has a subscription or viewing card will not be breaking any law. Broadcasting Minister Andrew McIntosh said: "I was notified by Ofcom that the content of Extasi TV is unacceptable and should be the subject of a proscription order. I have viewed material from the channel and consider that a proscription order would be in the public interest, in particular to ensure that children are not exposed to such potentially harmful material."

Ofcom outlines digital switch-off schedule

Media regulator Ofcom has finally outlined its schedule for switching off the UK's analogue TV signal. It said a region-by-region process would start in 2008, with analogue transmitters being gradually turned off. In order to reach its proposed December 31, 2012 deadline for the final switch-over, it is proposing a phased switchover by ITV region rather than geography over the course of four years. Viewers in London and the Channel Islands will be among the last to have to make the digital transition. The Government is now considering Ofcom's timetable before deciding whether to give it the go-ahead.

ITV News Channel returns to Freeview

The ITV News Channel looks set to reappear on Freeview this Spring. According to a Sky Viewers Enquiries helpline, the channel will resume in the Central region in mid March; Granada, Yorkshire and Tyne Tees in mid April; Meridian, Anglia, HTV West and HTV Wales in mid-May; Scottish and Grampian in late May; Ulster in mid July; and the Westcountry and Border regions in late July.

TalkSport TV moves to new Sky channel

TalkSport TV has moved to a new channel on Sky Digital after its format was bought by bookmaker William Hill. TalkSport TV has been timesharing each day with Get Lucky TV, from 4pm until 10pm, on channel 235, but is now on William Hill's Channel 425 between 4pm and 7pm each day. The bookmaker bought the TV channel's format on a one year contract for an undisclosed sum.

BBC is 'guaranteed licence fee for 10 years'

The BBC is guaranteed to receive the proceeds of the UK's TV licence fee for another decade, according to Whitehall sources quoted in The Guardian. However, the government is likely to review the level of the licence fee in five years' time - amid concerns in some quarters that the BBC is still complacent and believes it has done enough to demonstrate it has put its house in order post-Hutton.

Extra £20m for E4's programme budget

Channel 4 is pumping an extra £20m into the programme budget of E4, its digital entertainment channel. The channel's annual spend will grow by 50% to £60m, helping to fund a combination of original programmes, US acquisitions and spin-offs of existing Channel 4 shows. The news comes as E4 appointed a new head at the station - Julian Bellamy replaces Murray Boland, who was poached last week by programme producer Celador.

£25k fine for Playboy TV's hardcore broadcast

Playboy TV has been fined £25,000 for broadcasting a graphic s_x film in breach of the UK's strict programme rules. Ofcom, the UK's media watchdog, said the breach was "not to be tolerated" and fined the encrypted satellite channel for screening the film, called Sandy Babe Abroad, in May last year. Playboy TV made several breaches, including broadcasting material at 8.30pm in a free-to-air promotional slot that was "too explicit", and on another occasion screened an encrypted promotion pre-watershed that should have been broadcast after 10pm. Playboy TV admitted the breaches were serious but claimed the main breach had caused minimal offence because the film had been shown after midnight.

Top Up TV subscriber numbers 'going to plan'

David Chance, the chairman of Top Up TV, the digital terrestrial pay TV service, has said the service's acquisition of subscribers is “going according to plan" with around 150,000 customers having signed up. He added: "We said we’d achieve our break-even target of 250,000 within two years and we’re on target." The comments came amid speculation that the service is under pressure because of the low number of Freeview boxes equipped with pay TV card slots and its poor content line-up, which contains no sport or film channels.

More digital TV news in brief...

Sony has announced that all of its new TVs larger than 26 inches will in future be digital-only systems rather than analogue sets... Upcoming entertainment channel SoundTV, which launches on Sky on February 26 at 7pm, will also be screening kids shows and cartoons in addition to mainstream comedy and entertainment... UKTV Gardens has begun test broadcasts on Sky Digital under the ident ''6520' at 11.817GHz/V, SR 27500 and FEC 2/3... ITV4, the new digital channel launching later this year, will target male viewers... ITV soap Coronation Street is to add 'red button interactivity' to its programme on Sky this summer. Interactive features planned for the soap will include additional sub-plots and background stories, out-takes, behind-the-scenes coverage and competitions... Arts TV channel Performance (on Sky channel 202) has been sold by the Daily Mail Group to Eicom, formerly known as the Einstein Group, for £365,000... Adult channel Red Hot has launched on Freeview channel 61 and is charged at £5.99 per night.

MTV launches new global music programme

MTV has teamed up with burger chain McDonalds to launch a monthly global music programme dedicated to showcasing emerging music talent. Advance Warning, a 12-part series, has previously aired in the US and has helped to launch the careers of Joss Stone and Kanye West. Locally adapted versions of Advance Warning, tailored specifically for MTV's international audiences, will begin airing on MTV around the world starting on February 19 in Europe.

BBC planning new sports TV channel

The BBC has confirmed it is considering the launch of its own dedicated sports TV channel covering minority sports. Peter Salmon, director of BBC sport, said: "In the course of the next licence period, there should be a really good debate over the BBC and the diversity of its sports provision - including a specialist channel. I think it would be good for the nation's sporting life and good for the BBC as a public service broadcaster if we were in that business." The BBC has been linked to such a channel several times in recent years but the plans have never before come to fruition.

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Satellite news 23.02.05

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TV programme pirating poses threat to Sky

Popular US programmes like 24 are being pirated in vast numbers online where whole shows can be downloaded free of charge within minutes of first screening. The UK is leading the way, accounting for almost 20% of global TV piracy. It comes as the amount of TV show piracy increased 150% over the past year - in part due to increased use of fast broadband Internet connections. David Price, research consultant at Envisional, said: "With popular shows such as 24 we're talking about 100,000 copies of the latest episode being pirated – with around 20,000 of those shows being downloaded in the UK. That is inevitably going to start hitting the likes of Sky, especially as the people typically doing this are the young, affluent demographic their advertisers want to reach."

Reuters launches Web-based TV channel

Reuters has launched an interactive TV channel that will deliver video news stories online. The service, which is available via Windows XP Media Centre Edition 2005, gives access to business news, unedited footage of world news events, and stories of human interest, entertainment and fashion. Chris Ahearn, president of Reuters, said: "This is the first in a series of consumer services we will be launching this year that invite audiences to directly experience our news and information. "Our philosophy is to offer viewers the ability to choose the news that matters most to them, wherever and whenever it is breaking, and to see for themselves what’s really happening on the ground."

UKTV Style Gardens launches this week

The UK's first TV channel aimed at green-fingered viewers will launch on Sky Digital this week. The soft launch of UKTV Style Gardens had been planned for Monday (February 21) but it's understood this has been pushed back to Wednesday (February 23) when the channel will go on air at 1pm on Sky Digital channel 144.

New poker TV channel to launch in March

A new TV channel dedicated to the game of poker is to launch on Sky in March. The Poker Channel will show live coverage of big tournaments, and also broadcast programmes featuring tips and advice when it debuts on March 23. The channel is already performing tests under the label '50315' at 11.527GHz/V (SR 27500, FEC 2/3).

UKTV channels reshuffled in Sky line-up

Three UKTV channels have moved within Sky's onscreen programme guide. UKTV Food is on channel 145 (previously 144), while UKTV Food +1 is now on channel 146 (previously 145), and UKTV Drama has switched to channel 147 (previously 146). The changes will allow UKTV Style Gardens to launch on channel 144, as reported in our separate story.

Sit Up TV to launch new shopping channel

Sit Up TV, the company that runs shopping channels Bid TV and Price-Drop.TV, is to launch another retail channel. The broadcaster has already begun advertising job positions for the new channel, which is reportedly ' a dynamic pricing retail channel'.

Ofcom kills off two shopping channels

Media regulator Ofcom has revoked the broadcast licences of two Sky Digital shopping channels following complaints from consumers and the advertising standards watchdog. The action is against Shop Smart Television and Chase-it. Both channels stopped broadcasting in November at the same time as Ofcom issued its largest ever fine, £450,000, against Chase-it owner Auctionworld.

Joey proves a big hit for Channel Five

The debut of Friends spin-off Joey, starring Matt Le Blanc, gave Channel Five its highest-ever audience outside of movies and sports. The sitcom attracted 4.1 million viewers - a 16% share - which exceeds the previous best-ever audience of 4 million for an episode of CSI last April.

Nickelodeon channels return to Telewest

Cable TV service Telewest has signed a new contract to carry the four Nickelodeon kids channels, returning the channels to Telewest's line-up after they were pulled before Christmas during a contract dispute.

Channel Five launches interactive betting

Channel Five has extended its interactive TV agreement with Sky by launching a betting service so that viewers can gamble on the station's UEFA football coverage. It has signed a deal with Sky Bet to offer an additional strand to its 'red button' service.

Satellite channels float on stock exchange

TV Commerce Holdings, the operator of digital satellite TV channels The Advert Channel and Your Destiny TV, is to float on the London Stock Exchange's AIM index this week. The offer puts 49% of the company on the market, valuing it at around £5m. The company is expected to launch new betting and gaming channels on Sky Digital once the float has been completed.

More of this week's digital TV news in brief...

Teachers TV is to move to Sky Digital channel 592 from 686 this week... Set top box maker Amstrad’s just-released financial results for the six months ended December 31 2004 show record first-half pre-tax profits of £14.2m against £7.1m last time... Hindi music channel Vectone Bolly is to become a general entertainment channel... Pace has won an order to deliver digital satellite set-top boxes to British military bases and ships at sea to let military audiences overseas receive the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) digital TV service... The BBC is overhauling its comedy and entertainment department, creating a new head of comedy commissioning role, as well as a £9m budget for developing shows outside London... Canal Plus is to launch a premium TV package in France called Canal Plus Le Bouquet comprising four channels in addition to the present Canal Plus premium service... The production company Target Entertainment has been commissioned by ITV2 to produce several films for ITV2's Celebrities Exposed strand - Hollywood Rumours! and Bad Boys and Hell Raisers!... BBC1 has announced that it plans to spend an additional £3 million on primetime current affairs and investigative programs in 2005-06, resulting in a total annual airtime of 48.5 hours.

New mobile phone TV channel launches on Sky

The company that runs Snatch It and Gems.tv has launched a new mobile phone shopping channel called MyPhone.tv on Sky Channel 658. Viewers can compare a range of tariffs across different phone networks.

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Satellite news 02.03.05

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Get FilmFour for free during March!

Sky Digital viewers can receive pay channel FilmFour totally free for the whole of March if they sign up to a promotional offer in the Sky customer magazine. To take advantage of the offer, viewers should telephone 0800 441234 and quote the promotional code FC29 X001. The offer ends on March 31, 2005 and viewers who do not want to subscribe to the channel after March must cancel their subscription or be billed for the FilmFour subscription at £7/month.

EastEnders goes interactive this week

The BBC is adding interactivity to EastEnders for the first time on Monday February 28th, while ITV is preparing the launch of its own Coronation Street service this summer. EastEnders Xtra will be available to digital viewers immediately after the show goes out on Monday nights and will provide 15-minute behind-the-scenes shows with more in-depth insight into the show's characters, cast, storylines and gossip. Meanwhile, Corrie is reportedly planning to offer behind-the-scenes clips, programme out-takes and supplementary storylines.

RTL to launch German pay channel in UK?

Germany's RTL Group could be set to launch a pay TV service in the UK over the next 18 months after the broadcaster announced plans to move into the European pay TV sector for the first time. RTL Group CEO Gerhard Zeiler said: "Not all of our (31) television channels can be financed solely through advertising. So we will set up channels that will require viewers to pay a subscription fee." He did not give details of the new strategy, except to say that RTL would be targeting Europe's major TV markets for its pay expansion. He added that RTL does not have any immediate plans to launch a pay TV channel in Germany, saying: "At the moment, we do not see any strategic necessity in getting into German pay TV."

Set top box maker Pace moves into healthcare

Pace, one of the largest makers of digital set top TV boxes in Europe, is reported to be considering a move into healthcare in an attempt to reduce its reliance on the low-margin set-top box market. John Dyson, chief executive, told The Guardian that Pace would invest some of its research and development budget in healthcare products this year - but he stressed that Pace was not planning to leave the set-top box business altogether.

Channel 4 reveals launch date for new channel

Channel 4 has announced that its planned free-to-air factual channel More4 will launch in October. It will be targeted at ABC1 viewers over 35 and will have a huge £30m annual programme budget. It will focus mainly on documentaries with daily news programmes and current affairs shows which, according to Channel 4's director of TV Kevin Lygo, will be "more down-to-earth and accessible than BBC4." He added: "More4 will have clear public service ambitions and will commission original programmes across a number of genres. It will have a strong international and multi-cultural flavour."

Sky News to completely revamp its schedule

Sky News is planning to revamp its schedule later this year with a brand new line-up of 'appointment-to-view' news bulletins based around its presenters. Sky News boss Nick Pollard is reportedly keen to move away from continuous rolling news and instead introduce a format similar to that of its sister channel Fox News. The new programmes will be built around specific presenters, both from the existing team, and new recruits. Breaking news will, however, continue to be added into the bulletins at short notice and shall take precedence over scheduled programmes.

Hallmark Channel sold for £126m to Elstein

The Hallmark Channel's UK and international networks have been bought for £126m by a consortium led by former Channel Five boss David Elstein. The sale includes all of the Hallmark Channel distributed outside the US to 152 countries, with 60 million subscribers, plus the international rights to over 580 titles, and a broadcast facility in Colorado. The announcement came as Hallmark UK's chief executive, Jeff Henry, announced he was to quit the channel. Two senior Hallmark Europe execs were made redundant.

Sky confirms launch of second slot SkyCard

Sky has announced plans to launch its own credit card which will be able to be inserted into Digiboxes to reward subscribers for remaining with the servivce. Viewers will be able to earn reward points on purchases made using their remote controls. Sky has signed a deal with Barclaycard to launch 'SkyCard', which subscribers will be able to insert into the second slot of their set-top boxes. Jon Florsheim, Sky's chief of sales, said: "SkyCard will build on the value delivered to customers, enabling them to save money through the loyalty scheme and to get more out of their Sky digital subscription."

New shopping channel starts this week

New shopping channel EeZee TV is to launch on Sky Digital channel 659 on Tuesday March 1. The channel claims it will be different to other channels by being 'entertaining' and also promising next day delivery for products ordered by 5pm.

Sky News unveils election coverage plans

Sky News boss Nick Pollard has admitted for the first time that the channel "bored viewers" with its non-stop coverage of the 2001 general election and that it will be taking a "more imaginative" approach to this year's general election. He told an audience at the Broadcasting Press Guild: "In 2001 I don't think we got it right. We did it absolutely wall-to-wall - everything that moved and spoke, we covered. We were very indiscriminate. It was wrong." This year, the channel will adopt a strategy of "taking it to real people" by broadcasting what politicians have promised and what they have delivered.

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

Sky News has won 'News channel of the year' for the 4th year running at The Royal Television Society Awards... Entertainment channel Sound TV has replaced Information TV on Sky Digital channel 588... Media regulator Ofcom has given the go-ahead for ITV to cut its output of children's and religious programming... Cartoon Network is to launch a Russian language service in April... ITV and Channel 4 are reported to be the strongest contenders in the battle for the vacant Freeview channel... Horse racing channel Racing UK has launched on NTL's digital cable service... Sky has relaunched its interactive service, Sky Active, with a new look interface that's been created by its in-house design team.

UKTV Style Gardens launches on Sky

The UK's first TV channel aimed at green-fingered viewers has launched on Sky Digital. UKTV Style Gardens is now available on Sky Digital channel 144. Its programmes include Gardeners’ World, Gardening With The Experts and How To Be A Gardener.

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