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Last Updated 01/17/04
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4DTV Reception Delivers Talk Radio   12/11/2001

Six new talk radio stations from Cable Radio Network (CRN) have launched free 4DTV audio feeds on Galaxy 9 (4DTV G0). Here is the line-up:

Variety Talk on G0, 891.
Sports Talk on G0, 892.
Talk Radio Network on G0, 893.
Lifestyles on G0, 894.
Law and Order on G0, 895.
Issues Talk on G0, 896.

Programming Highlights   12/05/2001

BBC Americas Funny Awards special: Rupert Everett hosts and reveals the results for the show that recognizes not-so-serious contributions to the comedy genre. BBC Americas Funny Awards airs at 8 p.m. ET on BBC America (4DTV C3, 700).

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) movie: Hidden treasure lures three convicts from a life of hard labor on the chain gang. George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson and John Turturro star in this adventure-filled run from the law. O Brother, Where Art Thou? airs at 8 p.m. ET on STARZ! (G0, 4; 4DTV G1, 150).

Programming Highlights   11/28/2001

Christmas in Rockefeller Center special: New York City lights up the holiday season with this traditional family special. Performers scheduled to appear include Destiny's Child, Jessica Simpson, Marc Anthony, Vanessa Williams, Tony Bennett and more! Christmas in Rockefeller Center airs at 8 p.m. ET on NBC (S4, 18).

Shanghai Noon (2000) movie: Jackie Chan stars as a Chinese Imperial Guard who gets dispatched to the American West, where he joins forces with a small-time hood (Owen Wilson) to search for a kidnapped princess. Shanghai Noon airs at 8 p.m. ET on STARZ! (G0, 4).

Programming Highlights   11/15/2001

Garth Brooks: Coast to Coast Live special: The first of a three-part concert series kicks off tonight when country superstar Garth Brooks takes to the stage and performs in a different U.S. cities each week. Watch for cool and unique musical guests. Brooks will belt out his greatest hits as well as tunes from his new album, Scarecrow. Garth Books: Coast to Coast Live airs tonight, Nov. 21 and Nov. 28 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS (S4, 24).

Great Romances: Howard Hughes and Ava Gardner series: Americas first billionaire and greatest aviator was linked to many famous women, but the most glamorous of them all was Ava Gardner. Great Romances airs at 8:30 p.m. ET on WE (G7, 12).

World Series Update   11/02/2001

Early this morning ET, the New York Yankees defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 in 12 innings to give the Bronx Bombers a 3-2 games lead in the best-of-seven games World Series. Game 6 is scheduled for Saturday evening in Phoenix . Fox (F1, 5 & 19) plans to telecast game 6 starting at 7:30 p.m. ET . The Big Unit Randy Johnson is scheduled as the starting pitcher for the D-backs. Andy Pettitte is scheduled as the starting pitcher for the Yankees. The Yankees can win their fourth consecutive World Series (five of the last six World Series) with a victory in game 6. If Arizona wins game 6, tying the series 3-3, the deciding game 7 is planned for Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

NFL Changes Start Times for Two Games This Sunday   11/02/2001

The NFL, to accommodate CBS and Fox broadcast patterns, has changed the start times of two games on Sunday, November 4. The Cleveland at Chicago game, which was originally scheduled at start at 1 p.m. ET , will start at 4:15 p.m. ET . The Indianapolis at Buffalo game, which was originally scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m. ET , will start at 1 p.m. ET .

Programming Highlights   11/02/2001

America.01 special: Starting tonight, ABC news will explore how the country has changed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The broadcast will be a blend of reports from correspondents across the U.S. and overseas. Tonights premiere episode includes stories about Pentagon employees who narrowly escaped death and an executive who died saving others during the World Trade Center attacks. America.01 airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC (S4, 22).

Xena on Oxygen. Oxygen (F3, 24) is scheduled to air a special Directors Cut edition of the final episode of the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess tomorrow evening, Saturday, November 3, at 9 p.m. ET . According to Oxygen, the program will feature 16 extra minutes of never-before-seen footage. An interview with Xena star Lucy Lawless is scheduled to air on Pure Oxygen after the program

Playboy Moves To T7   11/01/2001

Playboy TV relocated its analog C-band satellite feed from G5, 2 to T7, 15. The full-time adult programming service requires a VideoCipher II Plus (VCII Plus) subscription for reception. Radio stations KLON and Cable Radio Network that were on G5, 2 have also moved to T7, 15.

Daily Movie and Schedule Updates to Satellite ORBIT Magazine   11/01/2001

United We Stand special: John Stamos hosts this star-studded event that celebrates the nations spirit and pays tribute to those involved in recovery efforts since Sept. 11. Watch for performances by the Backstreet Boys, Aerosmith, Janet Jacson, Rod Stewart and many more. United We Stand airs at 8 p.m. ET on ABC (chs. 386 & 387).

Programming Highlights    11/01/2001

World Series Baseball. The New York Yankees defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 in game 4 of the World Series. At 12:04 a.m. ET this morning, New York Yankee superstar shortstop Derek Jeter hit a solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning with two outs to tie the best-of-seven games World Series 2-2. World Series game 5 at Yankee Stadium will be televised by Fox (F1, 5) tonight at 8 p.m. ET . Mike Mussina is scheduled to pitch for the Bronx Bombers. Miguel Batista is scheduled to pitch for the D-backs. The series will return to the BOB (BankOne Ballpark) in Phoenix, Arizona for game 6 on Saturday evening (scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox).

Monster Mania! One day before the theatrical release of the new Disney/Pixar animated film, Monsters, Inc. TechTV will air a special behind-the-scenes look at the production. Tech of Disney/Pixars Monsters, Inc. will premiere tonight at 8 p.m. ET on TechTV (F4, 12), the only channel dedicated to covering the ever-changing world of technology.

Daily Movie and Schedule Updates to Satellite ORBIT Magazine   10/29/2001

ESPN2 10 p.m. ET : Super Chevy Series from Columbus , Ohio , on G5, 14. A re-play of the event taped in September.

Programming Highlights    10/29/2001

Robin Cook's Acceptable Risk (2001) movie: Just in time for Halloween, this haunting story finds a medical researcher remodeling a New England home that may have had connections to the Salem witches. During the renovations, he discovers a mold that could lead to a cure for degenerative brain diseases. As his team experiments, they unleash a little bit of demonic terror. Robin Cook's Acceptable Risk airs at 8 p.m. ET on TBS (G5, 6).

The Last Boy Scout (1991) movie: When an ex-football players girlfriend is murdered, he teams up with the detective assigned to the case (Bruce Willis) and uncovers some crooked goings on between a politician and a pro football team owner. The Last Boy Scout airs at midnight on STARZ! (G0, 4).

MTV2 and TVLand Changes

MTV 2 will be moving from Galaxy 10, transponder 16 to GE 1, transponder 10 starting January 1, 2001 and will be transmitted on both satellites until January 31, 2001 at which time the MTV 2, Galaxy 10 transmission will be discontinued.

The TV Land feed, which is currently on Satcom C3, transponder 18, will be moving to a scrambled analog VideoCypher II feed on Galaxy 10, transponder 16 starting February 1, 2001.The TV Land feed on Satcom C3, transponder 18 will no longer be available to the C-Band TVRO market after February 1, 2001.

Federal Communications Commission Adopted Network Program Non-Duplication

The Federal Communications Commission, continuing its work to implement mandates for the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act, adopted network program non-duplication, syndicated program exclusivity and sports blackout rules.

The action applies to both C-Band and DBS providers. Under the rules, six superstations - KTLA (Los Angeles), KWGN (Denver), WGN (Chicago), WPIX and WWOR (New York), and WSBK (Boston) - are subject to certain program deletions. The rules aim to protect the contract rights of local TV stations.

The network program non-duplication rule allows a local TV station to protect its exclusive distribution rights for network programming against duplicating shows carried on a superstation delivered via satellite. The syndicated program exclusivity rule allows a local TV broadcast station or syndicator to protect its exclusive distribution rights for syndicated shows by preventing the duplication of programming delivered by a superstation.

For both the network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules, the local station may demand that a satellite carrier blackout any duplicate carriage of the program - network or syndicated - regardless of whether the local station's signal is carried via satellite. Both rules apply only to programming that appears on the six superatations and within a specified area based on station location and zip code.

Sports blackout rules protect exclusive distribution rights for a team or league concerning a local sporting event. If a station isn't allowed to carry a local game, then no other broadcast signal displaying the game can be shown in the blackout area. The sports blackout rule applies to a satellite carrier's retransmission of nationally-distributed superstations and network stations. The rule, however, exempts any satellite carrier that has fewer than 1,000 subscribers within the protected area from making any program deletions. The rules take effect at the end of November. Satellite carriers will have four months to phase in non-duplication and syndicated program exclusivity rules and 60 days to comply with sports blackout requests.

Daily Movie and Schedule Updates to Satellite ORBIT Magazine   08/27/2001

7 p.m. ET Fox Family Channel: The Truth About Cats and Dogs, on G5, 11. Radio talk show host Abby Barnes trades identities with her friend when an enticed listener shows up at the station to meet her. Stars Janeane Garofalo and Uma Thurman.

Programming Highlights
The Sandra Bernhard Experience: The edgy actress, singer, comedienne and all around outrageous entertainer brings her unique perspective to a new late night talk show. Tonights guests include Edie Falco, Chrissie Hynde and Steve Van Zandt. The Sandra Bernhard Experience airs at 11 p.m. ET on A&E (G5, 23).

Street Gangs: A Secret History special: Street gangs have been alive and well across the U.S. for nearly 400 years. From petty criminals to multi-million dollar drug cartels, get an inside look at what fuels these groups and why they continue to attract members. Street Gangs: A Secret History airs at 9 p.m. ET on History Channel (F3, 12).

Motorola Jumps into ITV, Satellite Broadband   05/02/2001

Motorola's Broadband Communications Sector unveiled two deals Tuesday that push the company into satellite/broadband services and interactive TV.

Under the first deal, Motorola's Broadband Communications Sector said it's teaming up with Astrolink, the developing satellite-based broadband service backed by Liberty Media and others, to build two-way satellite modems.

Under terms of the agreement, Motorola will design, develop and manufacture two-way satellite terminals that will meet the needs of Astrolink's target customers, which will include everything from small/medium enterprises to multi-national corporations.

In a second deal, ReplayTV, a provider of personal television and digital video recording technologies, signed a long-term licensing agreement with the Broadband Communications unit. In the agreement, Motorola has named ReplayTV as a primary provider of core DVR software for the creation of Motorola's new personal television platform, the company said.

ReplayTV's DVR technology will be integrated into Motorola's digital cable set-top boxes, which could be initially offered in fourth quarter of this year, the company said.

TVN Entertainment announced this week that it acquired BET's Action-Pay-Per-View channel from Avalon Pictures. 

Action Pay-Per-View will be programmed, distributed and marketed by TVN as part of its ongoing initiative to provide targeted near-video-on-demand pay-per-view programming that will complement new-release movie offerings. Bob Johnson, chairman of BET Holdings, will retain an interest in Action Pay-Per-View, the companies said. 

TVN said it will keep the urban-oriented lineup that Action Pay-Per-View provides today. Cable affiliates that have Action Pay-Per-View will continue to receive the service, the company said. 

TVN's 37-channel near-video-on-demand digital programming service delivers special events, concerts, music and sports. The company said it plans to expand its NVOD service to address under-served markets, including Spanish-speaking viewers, children and other targeted audiences.

Lifetime Launches New 24-Hour Network 04/12/2001

Lifetime, television for women, will launch "Lifetime Real Women," a new 24-hour network with reality related programming told from a woman's point of view.

The new network will soon be available on satellite and cable television late this summer.

Carole Black, president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services, said, "'Lifetime Real Women' strengthens and expands our connection to women by offering them a wide variety of heartfelt true stories. We are pleased to offer women more of this type of programming at times that fit their schedules day or night."

Appeals Court Keeps Must-Carry Fight Alive 04/03/2001

According to sources, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a petition filed by the government, the National Association of Broadcasters and others to stay a challenge of the Federal Communications Commission's must-carry rules. 

"The Circuit Court's decision is a significant victory for satellite consumers, and brings us one step closer to resolving this contentious issue," said Chuck Hewitt, president of the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association. The SBCA filed the appeal along with EchoStar. 

The government and the NAB had asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to delay hearing the appeal until after the FCC ruled on various petitions for reconsideration filed against its satellite must-carry rulemaking. In addition, they asked that the challenge be delayed until after the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled on a separate constitutional challenge of satellite must carry rules brought jointly by the SBCA, EchoStar and DirecTV last September. 

In opposition to the petition, attorneys for SBCA and EchoStar emphasized the need for an expeditious decision. "We argued that the court should not delay deciding an important First Amendment challenge that it is best situated to resolve," Hewitt said. 

"We remain committed to protecting rights of consumers to receive popular broadcast services via satellite and the First Amendment rights of satellite providers," Hewitt said. "The Circuit Court's decision means that we are now fighting satellite must carry on three fronts, at the commission, before the Federal District Court and now before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. With satellite must carry scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2002, time is of the essence."

Odyssey to Relaunch as Hallmark Channel  03/30/2001

Hallmark Cards and Crown Media Holdings announced Wednesday that they will re-launch Crown Medias Odyssey Network as the Hallmark Channel on Monday, Aug. 6. 

According to the companies, the re-launch will be backed by a multi-million dollar promotion and advertising campaign featuring a comprehensive graphics package and promotional materials built around the Hallmark brand. The Hallmark Channel's programming will include productions from the Hallmark Hall of Fame Collection as well as other content. 

"The Hallmark brand is one of quality, caring and integrity, all of which the Hallmark Channel embodies. Hallmark plays a major role in peoples lives and this channel will certainly reflect the upstanding meaning and trust people hold in the Hallmark brand," David Evans, president and chief executive officer of Crown Media Holdings, said.

PrimeTime 24 Loses Supreme Court Fight  03/27/2001

On Monday, the Supreme Court turned down an appeal from PrimeTime 24 focused on the company's transmission of National Football League games to Canada. 

The court, without comment, rejected the company's argument that it could transmit the games without violating the NFL's copyright, the Associated Press reported. The NFL has been fighting the company's delivery of games to Canadian viewers for more than two years. 

The NFL filed suit in May 1998 in U.S. District Court in New York, alleging that PrimeTime 24 was infringing on copyrights held by the league by retransmitting game telecasts from the United States to Canada without authorization.

According to the NFL, the court first ruled in 1999 that PrimeTime 24 had violated the U.S. Copyright Act, and that ruling was affirmed last April by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The rulings cleared the way for a trial, held in October 2000, limited to determining the amount of damages to be awarded to the NFL. 

In February, a U.S. magistrate awarded the NFL $2.6 million in damages in its copyright infringement action against PrimeTime 24. 

Sidecar Marketing Campaign Focused On C-Band
NFL & Other Programmers Support Product Rollout

The C-Band programmers segment of the SBCA (Disney, Encore, HBO, Motorola, National Football League, NPS, Primetime 24, Satellite Receivers, Showtime and Superstar) announced a marketing campaign compromised of $650,000 to support the rollout of the upcoming Motorola digital Sidecar unit for C-Band dish owners. 

In order to roll-out the plan, an infomercial will air on numerous transponders and a direct mail campaign will target C-Band dish owners. 

Peter Brickman, chairman of the committee and senior director of broadcast operations and technology at NFL Enterprises, said, "Our group is committed to supporting this digital sidecar unit. We feel allocating these funds will support the effort and drive consumer acceptance." 

To support the marketing effort, the NFL will offer the first four weeks of the 2001 NFL Sunday Ticket for free (exclusively to C-Band subscribers). In addition, the NFL will offer a discounted price for the remainder of the season in hopes to simulcast C-Band digital feeds of the package. 

Telcom Feeling Xmas Spirit  12/22/00

The South African company Telcom Communications awarded Hughes Network Systems and its local partner Plessey a four-year contract to supply satellite-based communications systems. Hughes will support and supply VSAT communications solutions within South Africa and a larger portion of the continent, Telcom said.

Satmex Satellites to Cover Americas  12/22/00

Satmex announced its plans to invest $300 million to construct a satellite capable of spanning the Americas. Following the loss of Solidaridad I in August, Satmex has been working to accelerate its plans to put a new satellite into orbit. Construction of Satmex VI will begin in the next few weeks and will be launched as soon as construction is complete in early 2003. 

EUTELSAT Bids on New Satellites   12/22/00

In an effort to increase its satellite capacity and further extend its broadband access solutions, EUTELSAT has finalized negotiations for the delivery of the first in a new generation of satellites optimized for IP access networks with satellite return link capabilities. The decision also brought the commitment to secure the release of an RFP for two new HOT BIRD satellites. This will give EUTELSAT an edge in broadband access solutions with coverage of the European region. 

FCC Adds Telesat to List   12/22/00

The Federal Communications Commission added Telesat Canada's ANIK F1 satellite, located at 107.3 degrees, to the "Permitted Space Station List." The action was taken by the chief of Satellite and Radiocommunication Division at the FCC's International Bureau. 

Loral Cyberstar Gets Ka-Band OK   12/22/00

Loral Cyberstar, the broadband, infomedia and multicast arm of Loral Space & Communications, received some good news from the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday. 

The FCC granted applications filed by Loral Cyberstar to construct, launch and operate a Ka-Band satellite at 67 degrees and another satellite at 126.5 degrees. The action was taken at the International Bureau. 

The slots were covered in the first round of Ka-Band applications. For technical reasons, however, amendments to the applications had to be filed by Cyberstar.

Northpoint Working at the FCC   12/22/00

Northpoint Technology, the Washington, D.C.,-based company that wants to use DBS spectrum for a wireless service, has its lobbying machine running on all cylinders at the Federal Communications Commission (and, from the look of it, at least they're complying with the rules.) 

On Nov. 29, the day the FCC issued rules governing spectrum use between DBS/Ku-Band satellite services and proposed wireless offerings, Antoinette Cook Bush of Northpoint contacted a number of legal advisors to commissioners. According to a filing at the FCC, Bush spoke with the personnel about the licensing process for applications for terrestrial service filed by affiliates of Broadwave USA. 

Broadwave USA is comprised of 68 local affiliates and one wholly owned operation that will deliver wireless services using Northpoint's controversial technology. Satellite interests are concerned that Northpoint's wireless system will interfere with their signals. 

On that day in November, Bush contacted Clint Odom, legal advisor to FCC Chairman William Kennard; Mark Schneider, senior legal advisor to Commissioner Michael Powell; and Adam Krinsky, legal advisor to Commissioner Gloria Tristani. Bush also left a voice message for Bryan Tramont, legal advisor to Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth. 

On Nov. 29, the FCC issued a report and order that paved the way for new terrestrial fixed Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Services (MVDDS) to operate in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band as long as they don't create interference for incumbent satellite providers. Wireless services also must share spectrum on a co-primary basis with non-geostationary fixed-satellite services, which was the subject of another FCC report and order. 

The commission also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on technical and service rules for MVDDS licensing. Included in that comment mix is the role of an auction for the spectrum. 

C-Band Falls Again   12/15/00

C-Band subscriber numbers fell again in November, dropping by more than 30,000 and finishing the month at 1.228 million, according to Motorola's Access Control Center. 

In October, the big dish lost more than 35,000 subscribers, ending the month at 1.26 million. 

Numbers for the big dish were at 1.6 million at the beginning of the year. Losses for the year so far are nearing 400,000, according to estimates. 

Gilat Gets Mexico Phone Deal   12/15/00

Gilat Satellite Networks signed a contract with Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) to provide a fixed rural satellite telephony network for use in public call offices in nearly 2,000 communities throughout Mexico. 

The contract represents the first award under a Telmex program to expand rural telephony coverage, and is expected to be one of the largest known deployments of fixed satellite telephony in the world, Gilat said. 

The network, based on Gilat's FaraWay VSAT product, will begin deployment immediately, and is expected to reach completion in mid-2001. 

Globecomm Gets BSkyB Deal   12/15/00

Globecomm Systems Europe was awarded a $1.3 million contract by British Sky Broadcasting to provide a digital television satellite uplink facility in the United Kingdom. Under the terms of the contract, Globecomm will provide design, engineering, installation and testing of an uplink terminal capable of supporting approximately 40 television channels initially, with expansion capability to support 80 or more channels. The project is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2001. 

Iridium Casualty Odds: 1 in 250   12/15/00

While Iridium's satellite constellation will stay in orbit, thanks to a deal the Defense Department scored with the sat-phone provider's new investors, scientists did fret about what would happen if the company's satellites came crashing to earth. 

There were plans to de-orbit the Iridium satellite constellation, which can deliver phone service around the world, after the company filed for bankruptcy and went out of business. NASA's best and brightest put the odds at nearly 1 in 250 that satellite debris would hit someone on the planet. 

Among the items that were expected to survive reentry were titanium fuel tanks, batteries, structural brackets and electronic control panels. 

The analysis was done in April. The study was given to Reuters by the Federal Communications Commission under the Freedom of Information Act. 

In November, Iridium's satellites and other assets were purchased by a group of investors. Last week, the Defense Department signed a $72 million deal with the new owners of Iridium's assets that will keep the low-earth-orbit satellite constellation intact for at least 24 months. 

BSkyB Expands Interactive Slate   12/15/00

British Sky Broadcasting expanded its array of television-based e-commerce and online applications with the launch of digital text featuring on-screen interactive betting. 

The enhanced Sky Text service is available subscription-free in more than four million digital satellite homes and requires no additional equipment. Sky Text delivers more than 1,200 pages of news, sports, entertainment and information at the touch of a button. The service features full-color visuals and easy navigation with the TV handset. 

The interactive capabilities of the digital satellite set-top box allow viewers to go online within Sky Text to bet on sporting events or search for in-depth news and information from The services are integrated within the broadcast environment, enabling viewers to continue to watch television while they are placing a bet or reading other text features.

Sirius Sees Downgrade   12/15/00

ING Barings downgraded Sirius Satellite Radio, one of two DARS licensees, from a strong buy to a hold. 

The firm said Sirius remains one of its favorite long-term satellite picks. However, "We believe the interim may prove challenging for the company due to the long lead-time to full commencement of service," the firm said in a research note. 

In addition to the stock downgrade, ING Barings lowered its 2001 net subscriber addition forecast for Sirius from 300,000 to 150,000. ING Barings doesn't cover XM, the other DARS licensee that will compete with Sirius once services launch next year. 

Sirius, which plans to deliver subscription-based digital audio services, fell more than $5 to $25.44 in trading Monday. 

Sirius Rocket Blasts into Space   12/7/00

A lovely night in Kazakhstan (daytime in the United States) allowed for the launch of the Sirus-3 satellite. 

At 2:59 Eastern Time a Proton rocket leapt out of Central Asia with the new DARS satellite aboard. With a successful turnaround, Sirius will complete its satellite constellation in hopes to start its DARS program in early 2001. 

As of press time, things were operating normally aboard the satellite. Sirius Satellite Control successfully established a communications link with Sirius-3 at 7:02 p.m. Eastern Time and deployed the satellite's solar panels at 10:14 p.m. In-orbit testing is expected to be completed within 45 days. 

For those who want watch the rocket launch via webcast, visit and choose the "to view satellite launches" option under the "news" category.


Agency Also Tackles Must-Carry   12/7/00

In another move during what turned out to be a busy day for satellite interests at the Federal Communications Commission, the agency signed off on rules outlining a must-carry of local TV signals via satellite. 

Satellite carriage of all local TV signals in a market served by satellite providers begins Jan. 1, 2002. According to the rules, TV stations electing mandatory carriage over retransmission consent are required to notify the satellite carrier by July 1, 2001. 

The FCC also said DBS companies must place local stations in sequence on channel line-ups and provide equal treatment on electronic program guides to stations that elected must-carry instead of retransmission consent. DBS carriers also must charge a comparable price for must-carry and retransmission-consent stations.

FCC Issues Report on Grade B   12/7/00

The Office of Engineering and Technology at the Federal Communications Commission issued its report on the Grade B standard, recommending to Congress that most of the standard used for determining eligibility for distant TV network signals stay intact. 

While most of the controversial standard, criticized by satellite interests as being outdated and unfair for a number of subscribers, will remain in place, the office recommended a change in the method used for determining values of the "time fading factor." 

The time fading factor focuses on the fade of television signals at the parameter of a station's coverage area. The FCC proposed replacing fixed values found in the existing standard with location-dependent values determined by the Individual Location Longley-Rice prediction model. 

The switch could create some changes in determining eligibility for distant network signals, delivered by satellite companies to subscribers who qualify for the programming. 

In one aspect, the move might increase the number of unserved households located within the outer portion of coverage areas. For VHF stations, the number of unserved households in the outer two to three miles of the traditional Grade B coverage area could increase, the FCC said. For UHF stations, up to about the outer 7 miles of the traditional coverage area might be affected in the same way. 

On the other hand, the number of unserved households closer to a signal, yet may still have difficultly receiving local TV, could decrease under the modification, the agency said. 

"In any event, the modification would improve the accuracy of the Grade B standard for SHVIA (Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act) purposes," the FCC said in its Grade B report. "Therefore, we recommend that the time fading planning factor be modified to replace the existing fixed values with the distance-sensitive values determined for the actual receiving locations using the Individual Location Longley-Rice prediction model."

XM Ready to Rock-Sirius Ready to Roll  12/7/00

The first satellite for XM Satellite Radio, a DARS (digital audio radio service) licensee, has arrived at Sea Launch's home port in Long Beach, in preparation for its launch scheduled for Jan. 8. 

XM's satellites - officially named "Rock" and "Roll" - will launch from Sea Launch's floating platform near the equator. The first satellite "Roll" will rocket into space in January. The second will launch later in the first quarter. 

Rock and Roll are Boeing 702 satellites. They will be positioned above the United States, transmitting up to 100 channels of radio programming nationwide. 

Meanwhile, Sirius Satellite Radio, the other DARS provider, is still planning to launch its third satellite today. As of press time Wednesday night, Sirius-3, the final satellite in the company's constellation, was set to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Iridium Bird Ready to Burn  12/7/00

All eyes are on the heavens as a satellite that was once part of Iridium's $7 billion dollar constellation comes crashing through the atmosphere. 

According to, orbital debris experts with NASA have their eye on Iridium satellite No. 79, which should tumble out of its orbit and reenter the atmosphere today. That reentry will be followed by another Iridium satellite, No. 85, which should fall out of the sky in mid-December. 

The two Iridium spacecraft are derelict satellites and are non-operational. The rest of the constellation is expected to remain in place, given the purchase of Iridium assets earlier in the month. 

Daniel A. Colussy and a group of investors bid $25 million for assets tied to Iridium, the bankrupt and out-of-business sat-phone service that was backed by Motorola. Under the agreement, approved by bankruptcy court officials, Colussy and the investors will get the satellite constellation and Iridium's operations center in Reston, Va. 

It's not known if the Iridium satellite crashing through the atmosphere will be seen by humans. And there were debates online as to whether any of the wreckage will hit the ground, though reported there is a good chance some of the satellite debris will make it to the earth. 

Anik Launch a Success  12/7/00

An Ariane-4 rocket successfully placed Anik F-1, a satellite for Telesat Canada, into orbit. The lift-off marks the 11th successful launch of the year for Arianespace. The rocket launched from Arianespace's South American base in Kourou, French Guiana. 

Sirius-3 Launch Set for Thursday  12/7/00

All systems are go for the launch of Sirius' third satellite launch Thursday. 

The satellite-based, digital audio broadcaster expects Sirius-3, the final satellite in the company's constellation, to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:59 p.m. Eastern Time. As of press time Monday night, things were going smoothly at the launch site. 

If all goes well with the satellite launch, Sirius would be in great shape to launch its DARS (digital audio radio service) in early 2001. Sirius-1 was launched into orbit on June 30, and Sirius-2 launched on Sept. 5.

Anik F1 Launch Successful  11/27/00

At 6:56 p.m. ET yesterday, Tuesday, November 21, an unmanned Arianespace rocket launched Canada's Anik F1 satellite. If deployment and testing of the new dual C- and Ku-band bird are successful, Anik F1 will replace Anik E2 (A1) located 107.2 degrees west by early next year. 

PanAmSat-Galaxy VII Fails  11/27/00

PanAmSat's Galaxy VII, a backup satellite that provided occasional service to the United States, ceased operations after an onboard system responsible for controlling the spacecraft and maintaining its position relative to earth failed. 

The commercial satellite operator, controlled by Hughes Electronics, said it doesn't expect the satellite to resume operations. 

PanAmSat said it believes the loss of Galaxy VII won't adversely affect projected revenues of approximately $1 billion for 2000 or previously released financial guidance for 2001. PanAmSat said it intends to file an insurance claim on the satellite, which it said is fully insured at a value of approximately $130 million. 

Galaxy VII, a 601 spacecraft built by Boeing Satellite Systems, formerly Hughes Space and Communications, experienced a failure of its backup spacecraft control processor (SCP) at 1:29 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 22. 

The satellite has had troubles in the past. Its primary SCP failed in June 1998, and the satellite continued to provide service on its backup SCP. The Galaxy XI satellite was deployed in December 1999 to serve as the permanent replacement for Galaxy VII at 91 degrees West. Galaxy VII then was relocated to 125 degrees West. 

PanAmSat Satellite in Orbit  11/17/00

PanAmSat's new PAS-1R satellite launched aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, Wednesday night. 

The PAS-1R satellite will replace the PAS-1 satellite, the first international communications satellite launched by a commercial company. The satellite will be located at 45 degrees.

"The pioneering launch of PAS-1 gave rise to a thriving new commercial international satellite industry, with current annual revenues of nearly 10 billion dollars and significant growth in the coming years," R. Douglas Kahn said referring to PAS-1's historic 1988 launch. "As PAS-1R orbits earth, we are poised to lead that growth as we continue to introduce enhanced technology."

The new PAS-1R satellite has more than twice the capacity of the PAS-1 satellite and will provide coverage of Latin America.

ASTRA 2B Satellite's New Orbital Position  11/16/00

Luxembourg-based Societe Europeenne des Satellites (SES) has moved its ASTRA 2B satellite to a new orbital position in an effort to extend the company's active services. The satellite is now co-positioned with the company's other satellite, ASTRA 2A, at 28.2-degreees East. Both work in unison to offer a better frequency for SES to activate 40 transponders. ASTRA 2C and ASTRA 2D satellites are scheduled for launch within the next year. 

Sky Talks Going Well-Malone Says  11/10/00

Talks between Microsoft and News Corp. concerning the software giant's bid to join News Corp.'s developing satellite spin-off are on track, according to the man considered to be the key dealmaker between the two companies. 

John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media and the person believed to be responsible for brining the two companies together, told attendees at a seminar in Japan that there is "considerable enthusiasm" on both sides about striking a partnership. "We understand that talks between Microsoft and News Corp. about a joint investment in a satellite business in the U.S. are going quite well," Malone said. 

The Sky Global spin-off would contain News Corp.'s satellite assets, including British Sky Broadcasting, Sky Latin America and Star TV in Asia. It could also include a U.S.-based DBS asset. News Corp. has hinted it would like to include DIRECTV or EchoStar's DISH Network in its satellite plans, and it's rumored that the media titan is the top candidate to buy DIRECTV. 

Microsoft is eyeing a role in Sky Global in an effort to get its interactive TV technology to more viewers. Sky is expected to unleash its IPO during the first quarter of next year. 

Voters Decide on Satellite Candidates  11/08/00

On Tuesday, voters went to the booths to cast ballots for a number of lawmakers and presidential candidates who have been key players in satellite-related legislation in Washington, D.C. 

In the House, Virginia Rep. Rick Boucher won another term. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, also of Virginia, ran unopposed. Boucher, a Democrat, and Goodlatte, a Republican, sponsored rural local TV loan guarantee legislation that recently passed the House and Senate. They also were important figures in last year's passage of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act, which allowed satellite providers to carry local TV signals. 

Another key figure in last year's passage of satellite legislation was Louisiana Rep. Billy Tauzin, chair of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee. Tauzin, a Republican, was unopposed in his quest for another term. 

Conrad Burns of Montana, the Senate sponsor of rural local TV loan guarantee legislation, was in a tight race for his seat. As of press time, Burns had a slight lead over his Democratic challenger. 

Vice President Al Gore lost to George W. Bush in the presidential race. 

Gore, who sponsored the 1992 Cable Act while serving in the Senate for Tennessee, was for weeks locked in a tight race with Bush, governor of DTH-friendly Texas. The Lone Star State has more satellite subscribers than any other state, with 1.6 million getting TV through a dish. 

In addition to sponsoring the 1992 Cable Act, Gore also helped push through legislation with the help of Tauzin allowing for third-party packaging and consumer access to network signals, among other provisions. The 1992 Act guaranteed access to satellite-delivered cable programming by alternative multichannel video providers, such as DBS operators. 

The new president will have an opportunity to select new commissioners for the Federal Communications Commission. 

Susan Ness, whose term as commissioner has expired, was nominated by President Clinton for another term but her appointment hasn't been confirmed by the Senate. FCC Chairman William Kennard's term expires in 2001, Michael Powell's term as commissioner expires in 2002, while commissioner Gloria Tristani's term ends in 2003.

Microspace Leased Satellite Capacity  11/07/00

Microspace has leased capacity from Loral Skynet on the Telstar 4 and Telstar 8 satellites to support its Velocity service. The agreement for one Ku-Band transponder on Telstar 4 will commence Dec. 1. An additional transponder will be added when Telstar 8 is launched in 2002.

FCC Adopts Sports Blackout-Non-Dup Rules  11/03/00

The Federal Communications Commission, continuing its work to implement mandates for the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act, adopted network program non-duplication, syndicated program exclusivity and sports blackout rules. 

The action applies to both C-Band and DBS providers. Under the rules, six superstations - KTLA (Los Angeles), KWGN (Denver), WGN (Chicago), WPIX and WWOR (New York), and WSBK (Boston) - are subject to certain program deletions. The rules aim to protect the contract rights of local TV stations. 

The network program non-duplication rule allows a local TV station to protect its exclusive distribution rights for network programming against duplicating shows carried on a superstation delivered via satellite. The syndicated program exclusivity rule allows a local TV broadcast station or syndicator to protect its exclusive distribution rights for syndicated shows by preventing the duplication of programming delivered by a superstation. 

For both the network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules, the local station may demand that a satellite carrier blackout any duplicate carriage of the program - network or syndicated - regardless of whether the local station's signal is carried via satellite. Both rules apply only to programming that appears on the six superatations and within a specified area based on station location and zip code. 

Sports blackout rules protect exclusive distribution rights for a team or league concerning a local sporting event. If a station isn't allowed to carry a local game, then no other broadcast signal displaying the game can be shown in the blackout area. 

The sports blackout rule applies to a satellite carrier's retransmission of nationally-distributed superstations and network stations. The rule, however, exempts any satellite carrier that has fewer than 1,000 subscribers within the protected area from making any program deletions. 

The rules take effect at the end of November. Satellite carriers will have four months to phase in non-duplication and syndicated program exclusivity rules and 60 days to comply with sports blackout requests.

Sirius Updates On Fourth Satellite  11/02/00

A spare satellite for Sirius Satellite Radio will be available for ground storage delivery in August 2001. 

The spare, known as Sirius-4, was damaged at Space Systems/Loral's manufacturing facility. The company has had two successful launches. A third, Sirius-3, is being prepared for lift-off later this month. 

If problems develop with Sirius-3, and Sirius-4 is needed for deployment, it would likely be pressed into service in fourth quarter 2001, observers said. 

Sirius is one of two DARS licensees in the United States. The company wants to launch its satellite-delivered digital audio service early next year.

More Satellite Spectrum for Wireless Services  11/02/00

The Federal Communications Commission is pushing ahead with a new proposal to ensure "equitable" spectrum use between satellite and wireless services. 

Suggested rules recently introduced by the FCC - rules which could force satellite to share more spectrum with terrestrial wireless services - address petitions filed by the Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition (FWCC) and Onsat Network Communications. The FWCC asked the commission to impose conditions on fixed-satellite service (FSS) earth stations in bands that could be shared with fixed wireless operations. 

As part of the proposal, the FCC would require an FSS earth station licensed to operate in C-Band or Ku-Band frequencies to demonstrate that it's using or has imminent plans to use the spectrum. When an FSS earth station licensee can't make its case, a fixed-wireless service would then be "coordinated" into the same spectrum. 

The FCC also is proposing to shorten the "loading" period for fixed-wireless licensees in C-Band and Ku-Band from 30 to 24 months. That would give FSS and fixed-wireless licensees a comparable period of time in which to put their spectrum to use before it's susceptible to re-licensing to others. 

In addition, the FCC is seeking comment as to whether the rules should apply in other bands where satellite and wireless services share spectrum. 

Satellite proponents said the FCC proposal is unbalanced - emphasizing spectrum usage but not nationwide coverage. While wireless services go after attractive metro areas, rural areas will be left behind, they said. 

Observers also point out that C-Band and Ku-Band have been shared by satellite and terrestrial wireless services for decades, and that the FCC proposal could upset that balance. 

Another point to consider, satellite interests said, is that satellite's Ku/Ka/V bands are being rolled out with ubiquitous terminals. The nature of these new broadband satellite services requires frequency separation from terrestrial services in order to allow for universal service.

Inmarsat Inks Deal with HNS, Thuraya  11/02/00

Inmarsat signed contracts totaling $220 million with Hughes Network Systems and Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications, based in the United Arab Emirates, for a mobile broadband service that will launch in 2002. Inmarsat leased capacity on the Thuraya-1 communications satellite, which was put into orbit on Oct. 21. Thuraya wants to offer regional mobile satellite telecommunications coverage to nearly 100 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Indian subcontinent. 

Loral-Backed Europe*Star Celebrates Launch  10/31/00

The successful launch of the Europe*Star-1 satellite during the weekend is a bonus for the developing Europe*Star venture and its backers. 

Europe*Star, backed by Loral and France's Alcatel, is a new satellite services company based in the United Kingdom. Europe*Star's first satellite will provide video and telecommunications services to Europe, the Middle East, southern Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. 

On Sunday, an Arianespace Arine 4 rocket lifted the bird into orbit. The Ariane-4 has been in service since 1988 and has failed only three times in 100 launches. The rocket, however, is being phased out and replaced by the new generation Ariane-5. 

Thuraya Plans Sat-Phone Service  10/31/00

Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications, a satellite outfit based in the United Arab Emirates, said it will launch a satellite mobile service next March. It's hoping to sign up 400,000 users by the end of 2001. The company will use the recently launched Thuraya-1 communications satellite for the service.

SBCA Praises Northpoint Amendment 10/30/00

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association commended lawmakers for approving rural local TV loan guarantee legislation. 

Most importantly, the SBCA praised efforts to get a mandate into the bill requiring the Federal Communications Commission to arrange for independent testing of Northpoint's technology. 

Northpoint, a long-time target of satellite interests, wants to use DBS spectrum to deliver a terrestrial wireless service. Satellite has been fighting for independent tests of Northpoint's system, concerned that the technology will interfere with small dish services. 

SBCA President Chuck Hewitt said passage of the bill "should serve as a clear signal to the FCC that Congress is dedicated to improving competition in the marketplace, but not at the expense of consumers. 

"The provision's language illustrates Congress' true concern about the effect of interference on the more than 14 million current DBS subscribers and millions of future consumers." 

House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and Rep. Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) pushed the Northpoint amendment, which was added to rural local TV loan guarantee legislation approved by both the House and Senate. Under the provision, independent testing of Northpoint's technology must be completed within 60 days of the bill being signed into law, with an additional 30 days for public comment on the results. 

Rural Local TV Bill Moves in House 10/27/00

The House attached rural local TV loan guarantee legislation to an appropriations bill, but the measure still has obstacles to overcome, including a possible veto. 

The bill was placed inside a $38 billion appropriations measure passed by the House covering the departments of State, Commerce and Justice. However, President Clinton has threatened to veto the bill due to an unrelated item concerning immigration. 

In addition, the bill still must get Senate approval. 

The $1.25 billion loan guarantee program is promoting expanded local TV offerings for rural areas. While the bill remains technology-neutral, observers say satellite is best positioned to take advantage of the program. 

Sources said they believe language concerning Northpoint, the controversial Washington, D.C.,-based company that wants to use DBS spectrum for a terrestrial wireless service, remains inside the House legislation. 

Lawmakers added the Northpont provision, which requires the Federal Communications Commission to arrange for independent tests of Northpoint's technology, two weeks ago. DBS interests concerned about the interference Northpoint's system may cause to small dish customers have been pushing for independent tests.

Bundling Not a Hit? No Kidding 10/25/00

It may have taken a few years for cable companies and phone giants to figure out what some have been saying (including us) for some time: That customers aren't clamoring for bundled telecommunications services. 

The Wall Street Journal, in its Tuesday edition, presented a story that suggests the bundling of telecommunications services isn't turning on customers. One reason could be that bundling still remains a concept. The other reason is that consumers like to shop around for services, and are wary of being locked into one service provider. 

But the biggest reason could be that consumers are not be interested in signing up for bundled services unless there's a compelling offer or a super deal. 

The one-stop shop for services was once promoted by AT&T, which offers long-distance, phone, cable and broadband services. But now some are saying the lack of enthusiasm for bundled services is one of the reasons why the company is thinking about splitting itself into four pieces, the Journal report said.

SBCA: Satellite Can Bridge Digital Divide 10/25/00

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association, in comments submitted to the House Subcommittee on Technology, promoted satellite as the quickest and most cost-effective solution to bridging the so-called "digital divide" developing in rural, unserved areas. 

The association also urged Capitol Hill lawmakers to look beyond traditional "wire-line" delivery as the best way to get Internet and communications services to remote regions of the country. 

"The capital costs and technological limitations of cable, telephony and other wire-line applications make it unlikely that they can ever offer the solution policymakers seek - ubiquitous coverage in rural America," the SBCA said. 

"Satellite, on the other hand, because of its national footprint and full digital service, provides the most immediate and efficient solution. Satellite is already offering Internet access to rural America. As new and faster satellite technologies come online, all Americans will have access to higher speed, greater capacity two-way Broadband services."

Study: Raleigh a Top Market for DTH 10/25/00

The Television Bureau of Advertising, through its analysis of Nielsen Media Research data, has a list of top U.S. cities for multichannel alternatives to cable, specifically satellite TV. 

The organization's list, based on "alternative delivery systems" (ADS) that compete with cable, found that the national penetration for alternative multichannel services reached 11.5 percent as of July. DBS, the largest component of ADS, was estimated at about nine percent. 

Raleigh-Durham, N.C., scored as the market with the highest ADS numbers, with alternative video services found in 18.9 percent of all TV households. The Greenville-Spartanburg area in South Carolina was second, with an ADS penetration of 18.2 percent. 

The Television Bureau of Advertising released the study to show its members and the public that the customer base for cable has eroded in many cities. "In fact, over half of the TV markets now have ADS penetrations of 15 percent or more," said Chris Rohrs, TVB president.

EUTELSAT Begins Yugoslavia Work 10/24/00

EUTELSAT's Assembly of Parties authorized the European satellite operator to re-establish satellite transmission facilities for Radio Televizija Serbija (RTS). The decision was made after the recent change of political control in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia & Montenegro).

Launch Successes Pave Way for DARS Flights 10/24/00

The Sea Launch consortium successfully launched a United Arab Emirates communications satellite from the middle of the Pacific Ocean Saturday, after two delays blamed on a technical glitch. 

The successful launch for Thuraya-1A paves the way for the flight of XM Satellite Radio's first bird. That launch, for XM-1, is expected to take place sometime in December aboard the Sea Launch floating platform. 

The Sea Launch delays were blamed by a fault with the Zenit-3SL rocket booster, built by Ukraine's Yuzhnoye. 

There was another successful launch during the weekend. GE-6, a hybrid C/Ku-Band satellite, was lifted into orbit Saturday aboard a Proton vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. 

The successful lift-off will allow for a number of key Proton launches by the end of the year. Included in that Proton launch list is a flight for Sirius Satellite radio's Sirius-3 bird.

4DTV DSR-922 Update 9/3/00

A number of customers have inquired about the release date and availability of the second-generation 4DTV, the DSR-922, which will replace the DSR-920 first-generation unit. At the annual satellite trade show in late July, Motorola/GI was expecting to ship the 922 to distributors in August. According to Motorola/GI sales executives, the new delivery date to distributors now is late September, which means availability to consumers by early October. The MSRP for the 922 will be $1,299, the same as for the 920, but the street price for the substantially enhanced second-generation unit should start under $1,000. You can no pre-buy your unit. Click Here for details

Galaxy Bird Takes Off  7/16/00

On Tuesday night, an Ariane 42L carried PanAmSat's newest satellite, Galaxy IVR, into orbit after a flawless lift-off from Arianespace's launch facility in South America. 

As of press time late Tuesday night, things appeared to be going normally for the mission. 

Galaxy IVR is the third of seven satellites the company is launching under an aggressive fleet expansion program. In March, the company commenced operations aboard Galaxy XR, which launched earlier in the year. In December, PanAmSat put Galaxy XI into orbit. 

The satellites support PanAmSat's Galaxy cable neighborhood, which has attracted programmers such as HBO, Disney, ESPN and others. "Cable companies and programmers like using the Galaxy satellites because of their location in the sky," said Ann Mountain, PanAmSat's senior vice president of Galaxy sales. 

"They also like using Galaxy because of the reliability of the satellites." 

On Monday, AT&T Broadband announced it would expand use of the Galaxy fleet for its Headend in the Sky (HITS) platform, which delivers more than 140 digital television channels to cable systems throughout the United States. 

AT&T Broadband moved HITS from the Galaxy VII satellite to the new Galaxy XI spacecraft, which will serve as the temporary home for HITS. The platform will then move to the high-power Galaxy IVR once operations commence on the new bird.

Court Rules In NFL/PrimeTime 24 Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York affirmed an earlier federal district court ruling that found PrimeTime 24 in violation of copyright law by transmitting NFL games to subscribers outside of the United States without permission. 

The NFL is seeking up to $100,000 for each of the more than 100 games the NFL claims PrimeTime 24 illegally retransmitted beginning in August 1997. The case now returns to district court for a determination of damages and assessment of attorney fees. 

The NFL filed suit against PrimeTime in May 1998, alleging that PrimeTime 24 violated NFL rights under copyright laws by retransmitting NFL games to Canada. 

In September, federal judge Lawrence McKenna granted the NFL a permanent injunction preventing PrimeTime 24 from uplinking NFL games to Canadian subscribers and else outside of the U.S. The appeals court ruling Friday affirmed the injunction.


Recently-launched Galaxy 10R will officially take over broadcasting from 123 degrees March 6, bumping Galaxy 9 to 127 degrees.

All G9 tenants were presumably jumping over to Galaxy 10R (which C-band viewers can program as G0), while remaining in their respective transponder positions. Exceptions will be the Outdoor Channel, which moves from G9, 1 to G0, 24 March 12.The Gospel Music Channel will stick with G9, 2 once Galaxy 9 is officially repositioned. 

Down the road, watch for Galaxy 11 to start beaming from 91 degrees and Galaxy 4R to broadcast at 99 degrees.

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