Tensions emerge in French news channel
TV5 chairman Jean-Jacques Aillagon has admitted that
the new Francophone news channel CII may have difficulties
in finding a place for itself in a crowded market. “There
is an increasing number of news channels. In each
territory, indigenous stations and international
stations, Anglo-Saxon and Arabic ones in particular,
jostle for space. In this context, an additional
French news channel will have difficulty finding
a place for itself," he told Le Figaro. The
former culture minister argued that with no “spontaneous
demand for a ‘French-style CNN’” the
project might have been better placed on the Internet
where it would have better accessibility and be more
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IPO at last!
German sat-channels encrypting?
Nagra problems at Premiere
Inmarsat flat sales
BBC HD Confusion
Europe’s HDTV charge
Loral exits Chap. 11
PAS wins CNBC Pakistan
4 more sats for SES?
35% COGR for US DARS
MONITOR: On travel, sport and news
COMMENT: A vintage year
plans second HD sports channel
The launch of its high
definition television service is still at least three
months away, but already Sky
is drawing up plans for a second HD sports channel.
Sky Sports HD 2 received its licence from Ofcom this
week and follows recent comments by Sky’s Director,
New Product Development and Sales Brian Sullivan that
a second channel would be needed when the start of
the football season clashed with Sky’s live coverage
of Test Match Cricket. Also receiving approval from
Ofcom this week was The History Channel, which has
plans for its own HD service, in addition to a new
Military History Channel. Legacy broadcaster Channel
5, which is yet to launch its second channel, receives
a licence for Five.3. Turner Entertainment Networks
will please movie enthusiasts with TCM2 and cartoon
fans with Cartoon Network Too [sic].
launches MPEG-4 HD services
After several weeks delay, Premiere has given
certification to the first set-top box to be used for its new high definition
television service. The Pace DS810
uses MPEG-4/H.264 HD hardware decoding and includes the DVB-S2 compression system
that can achieve bandwidth savings of up to 30%. Connectivity to HD Ready displays
is through HDMI and HDCP. A field test took place last Saturday (December 3)
during the Bundesliga match between VfB Stuttgart and FC Bayern München.
French commercial broadcaster TF1 has renewed its interest
in the German ProSiebenSat.1 network. TF1 is waiting
on a decision from the German competition agency as
to whether it will block a takeover by the publishing
group Axel Springer. Should the authorities rule against
Springer then TF1 will make a bid for the company that
it previously tried to acquire in 2002 when the group
was formed out of the ruins of the Kirch Group. A consortium
led by US media investor Haim Saban then acquired the
company. The agency now has until December 27 to declare
its hand with Springer, which also owns the tabloid
Bild, suggesting that it will take legal action should
the ruling go against it.
Deutschland changes hands
Providence Equity Partners
has acquired the largest of the German cable TV operators
from its fellow
companies Apax and Goldman Sachs in a deal that values
the company at €3.2 billion including debt. The
two partners each held 32% of the company. Providence
already has significant stakes in the Spanish cable
operator Ono, the Dutch Casema and Sweden’s Com
Hem. It now plans a €500 million investment in
the German system as part of an upgrade of KDG’s
triple play offer. Under the plan 7.5 million households
will receive a combined offer of television, telephony
and broadband Internet by spring 2007.
Partners sells Com Hem
The last Swedish-owned
cable operator has fallen into foreign hands. EQT Partners,
the private equity company
owned in part by the Swedish Investor group has sold
Com Hem to a consortium of The Carlyle Group and Providence
Equity Partners. Com Hem is the successor to Svensk
Kabel-TV the one time cable operator of the Swedish
PTT before its privatisation as Telia. It has 1.6 million
subscribers and a successful triple play operation.
The ‘free for all’ of Swedish cable television
means that Com Hem has been able to extend its footprint
to 1.43 million households. The group is also part
of the consortium that bought out the Danish telecoms
group TDC in a $12 billion transaction.
Liberty Global has been given
the all clear for the purchase of NTL Ireland by the
Minister for Enterprise
Employment Michael Martin. It follows the approval of
Ireland’s competition authority for the takeover
that will create a national cable operator in the country.
Shane O’Neill will be the executive chairman of
the new business that will combine NTL Ireland with Liberty’s
Chorus. The company is planning to invest up to €300
million on the development of digital and broadband services.
ups BET24 stake
Modern Times Group (MTG) has
signed an option to increase its shareholding in Nordic
Limited, the company behind
the BET24 online betting operation, broadcast as part
of the Viasat digital satellite platform. It is expected
that MTG will exercise its option early in 2006, taking
its total holding in the company to 90%. The company
more than tripled its gross profits in the first nine
months of 2005 and MTG is looking to use the synergies
between its sports channels and the betting facility
in the Nordic market in much the same way that Sky Bet
has done in the UK.
Italia to launch WiBro trial
Telecom Italia is to launch trials of mobile broadband
services in February, during the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.
In an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica, Telecom
Italia chief executive Riccardo Ruggiero said that they
will be based on WiBro, a Wi-Max-based technology developed
by Samsung, and that they would start selling the services
some time in 2007. He pointed out that the implementation
would be a European first. WiBro can offer wireless data
speeds of 20-30 Mbit/s and work is being done to make
the standard compatible with WiMax. Users equipped with
the latest generation mobile phones will be able to transfer
data and images, download videos, music, movies and TV
programs. WiBro will also enable multiconferencing: making
simultaneous videocalls to various people while at the
same time performing multimedia tasks (audio, video,
TV and Internet). It will also be possible to download
entire photo albums and complete musical CDs in a very
FilmFlex makes its first million
FilmFlex has achieved the one-millionth buy from its movie
catalogue ahead of schedule. The company was established
ahead of the launch of video on demand services from
UK cable in January 2005 and is backed by Sony Pictures
Television International, Walt Disney Television International
and the On Demand Group. It has benefited from the rollout
of VOD services moving ahead of schedule. The current
roster of 300 movies is to grow to 400 by the end of
the month and to 500 by early 2006.
could go free
Channel 4 is studying the possibility of taking its
premium service FilmFour free-to-air and placing the
Freeview. The channel has to balance the £7 monthly
fee currently paid by its 400,000 subscribers against the
potential for advertising revenues. Movies on the channel,
which screens a mix of British, US and European films,
are presently screened uninterrupted. However, this could
end if the channel moves to an advertising model. Channel
4 has already found success in moving its entertainment
channel E4 to a free service.
CNN expands online offer
CNN has launched a premium video news service to broadband
subscribers. CNN Pipeline offers subscribers access to
CNN, video, multiple live streams and archives. In June
CNN.com launched a commercially funded free video service.
CNN Pipeline is priced at $24.95 per year. The service
is compatible with both Mac and Windows PCs and includes
a ‘browse video” tool and a dedicated news
update for online subscribers.
launch mobile TV trial
Teracom is planning to commence a mobile TV in Central
Stockholm starting in the New Year. The 16-channel DVB-H
broadcast trial is being run in co-operation with the
Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia. It follows Teracom’s
recent test from the Kaknästornet transmission site
near Stockholm. A number of mobile operators in Sweden
have already introduced mobile TV over 3G services in
Sweden and Teracom is hoping that this will sit alongside
the broadcast service.
looks to Virgin bride
NTL wants to buy Virgin Mobile for Quad Play and marketing muscle, writes Julian
It’s a marriage made in the marketing department.
For those of us wondering what if anything would happen
to the NTL brand after its merger with Telewest here is
the answer. Should the offer to purchase Virgin Mobile
be accepted – the initial 323p per share has already
been rejected ¬– then the new brand would be
Richard Branson’s Virgin brand – established
with the release of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular
Bells – carries
with it a tremendous amount of goodwill from the public
at large. While other companies would insist upon a
change of name following a short handover period, Virgin
revels in the opportunity to licence its brand as part
of the package. The clever piece of marketing is that
few of the listeners to Virgin Radio would be aware
station is actually a part of Scottish Media Holdings
or Virgin Atlantic passengers that Singapore Airlines
Broadcasting is not a Virgin strong point, a pioneer in
multichannel television, Sir Richard established Super
Channel with all but one of the ITV companies of the time.
Super Channel had an unhappy evolution and its considerable
carriage contracts evolved into what is now National Geographic
and CNBC. The Super Station was designed to provide star
names to local commercial radio, but failed to establish
itself, even though networking is now sadly all the rage.
NTL brand is somewhat non-descript and was itself acquired
as Barclay Knapp’s International Cabletel looked
to build up its portfolio in the mid-’90s.
Virgin will bring just as much with its name as
to cross-sell mobile telephony will add to a quad
that will incorporate the existing triple-play
of television, telephony and broadband Internet.
which has its
own plans for a television service, already has
product that combines mobile telephony with a fixed
line service on a single number.
Mobile isn’t really a mobile operator at all;
the company relies on T-Mobile to provide its mobile infrastructure.
NTL says the mobile company is supportive of the proposals.
Sir Richard has said that he is happy with the NTL offer,
which would value the company at £891 million,
but Sir Richard only speaks for 72% of the company.
shareholders are believed to be holding out for
a higher offer.
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