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Sat-ND, 28.6.96

 Sat-ND 96-06-28 - Satellite and Media News
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 Confusion following Supreme Court ruling
 The US today upheld part of a law allowing cable television firms to
 refuse to show sexually explicit programmes on certain channels. It
 authorises them to refuse any indecent material on public access channels
 (PEG), at least one of which is available in every US cable network.
 But other parts of the 1992 Cable Television Consumer Protection Act,
 sponsored by conservative North Carolina Republican Jesse Helms, were
 struck down by the Supreme Court. Cable operators were obliged to set up a
 separate channel for indecent programming and scramble it unless a
 subscriber requested it in writing. This provision was declared
 unconstitutional as well as certain restrictions for public, educational,
 and governmental channels.
 "Coupled with the recent federal ruling against Internet censorship, this
 decision delivers a real one-two punch to the religious right, which has
 prompted these censorship attempts," said Elliot Mineberg, legal director
 and general counsel of "People for the American Way." This group had,
 amongst others, challenged the Cable Television Consumer Protection Act.
 Another group challenging the law, Media Access Project, seems not that
 otimistic. It said in a statement that "the Supreme Court has left the
 public with more, not less, doubt about how the First Amendment applies to
 cable TV. But at least public access channels have gained the freedom they
 need to serve as America's electronic town square."
 Giga Zap
 German media authorities have okayed two more theme channels. Giga TV is a
 24-hour channel for computer freaks, whereas Zap TV is a German version of
 the USA's Prevue Channel. It is yet unclear whether both channels will
 start, when and on what satellite they will be launched. There are, of
 course, some EUTELSAT transponders available for analogue transmissions.
 However, a EUTELSAT-only strategy makes no sense at all without cable
 distribution, and even an ASTRA transponder probably won't be sufficient.
 Unfortunately, German cable networks are already crammed with other TV
 channels. Even worse, each of the country's sixteen partial states has
 different rules for allocating cable channels to broadcasters. 
 Intelsat standard out of fashion
 There are first signs for a saturation in the market for certain satellite
 uplink stations. Spar Aerospace Ltd. from Mississauga, Ontario announced
 it will be discontinuing its Major Systems satellite earth station
 operations, supplying systems integration for Intelsat standard-type earth
 stations. According to Spar, a manufacturer of aerospace, communications
 and software products, the market is declining.
 By Dr. Sarmaz
 American Sky Broadcasting and SkyMCI have chosen a site in Arizona for an
 advanced satellite and data uplink facility and broadcast operations
 centre. Both companies are joint ventures between Rupert Murdoch's News
 Corp. and MCI Communications Corp. Their digital TV package is expected to
 be launched on two direct broadcast satellites (DBS) within two or three
 years from now. 
 In January, MCI paid US$682.5 million for the last remaining DBS license
 it won at a Federal Communications Commission auction.
 It wasn't a real surprise that the encryption technology used by DirecTV,