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International airwaves roundup

Irish Communications Minister plans E.U. regulation on commercial content

Foreign satellite television services in Europe may soon be subject to new regulations if Ireland’s communications minister is successful with his plans.

Ireland’s Communications Minister Dermot Ahern opposes the status quo where satellite companies can transmit programming to the island nation without being required to adhere to restrictions on commercials that domestic television stations must follow.

In January, Ireland will take over the E.U. presidency, and the minister plans at that time to call for commercial content regulation for all European Union nations. According to Ahren, his decision to call for new regulations is based on more than wishing to regulate ad revenue.

Pakistan cable operators threaten boycott of local stations

Many Pakistan cable television providers are protesting a recent government decision to bar them from carrying Indian programming by threatening to boycott local Pakistani and popular foreign news channels.

According to the Cable Operators’ Association of Pakistan, 95 percent of Pakistanis wish to watch programming that originated in India. Representing more than 900 cable operators, the association called on the government to rethink its policy and respect the will of Pakistan viewers.

The decision of the Pakistani government to bar cable systems from carrying Indian programs apparently was made to protect the revenue of government-owned Pakistan Television.

Last year when tensions between the two nations were high, cable operators respected a government order to drop Indian programs. That move was costly since viewers refused to pay for limited programming. Cable operators don’t want to experience the same loss in revenue this time around.

High definition European network to launch service in January

Euro1080, Europe’s first HDTV channel, is scheduled to begin operations on New Year’s Day 2004.

The satellite service will distribute sports, music and other shows in HD on two separate channels: the Main channel and the Event channel.

The Main channel will distribute four hours of HDTV programming to home viewers and small venues like restaurants, hotel chains and airports. The free-to-air Main channel requires no decryption or special subscription and is intended to build an HDTV constituency throughout Europe.

The Event channel will transmit live or live-delayed HDTV programming to special event cinema locations with electronic projection and 5.1 surround sound systems. At least two new HDTV events will be available per week till 2007 on the Event channel, which will launch its operations with the New Year’s Concert of Vienna.

Cuba identifies Iranian diplomatic facility as source of jamming

The source of the signal jamming U.S. satellite transmissions of Farsi-language programming to Iran was an Iranian diplomatic center in or near Havana, the U.S. Department of State said.

The Cuban government investigated the jamming after the United States complained last month that a source on the island nation was likely responsible for disrupting U.S.-government and privately sponsored satellite programming for Iran.

On Aug. 3, Cuba identified the source of the jamming and took steps to remove it.

Although it is illegal for Iranians to own satellite dishes and receivers, they are widely used in Iran to keep people informed of news about their nation from the outside.

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