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International airwaves roundup

Berlin, Brandenburg say so long to analog, welcome all-digital TV

Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg have ceased analog television service and begun exclusive transmission of digital television signals.

German television viewers who don’t receive satellite or cable service were required to purchase a set-top converter to receive digital terrestrial broadcasts. Estimates show that about 150,000 of the area’s 170,000 TV viewers who needed the set-top boxes purchased one before the conversion. Set-top boxes range in price from about $100 to $300.

Among the benefits viewers noticed were improved picture quality, nine additional over-the-air channels bringing the total to 21, and access to televisions with handheld computer devices and cell phones.

New Indian Ku-band direct-to-home satellite service gets preliminary approval

Prasar Bharati has won Information and Broadcasting Ministry approval for a plan to offer direct broadcast satellite service to television viewers in South Asia. India’s cabinet will soon take up the matter.

As envisioned, the Ku-band satellite service will begin operations in December and reach a large audience throughout South Asia, including Afghanistan. The service is not a commercial venture.

Kenya revokes broadcast licences of non-operating owners

Effective immediately, Kenya this week revoked the broadcast licenses of license holders who have not begun station operations.

Kenya’s Information and Tourism Minister Raphael Tuju announced that any licenses granted to one party and sold to another that failed to begin broadcasting were being revoked as well. He added that spectrum is a natural resource that must be developed and used for the benefit of society, not a commodity to be hoarded for selfish gain.

Broadcasters who have failed to pay fees for frequency use have 30 days to bring payment current, he said. Otherwise, they too would lose their broadcast license.

Tuju also announced that effective January 2004 all television broadcasters must originate at least 20 percent of their primetime programming locally.

Russian World TV launches service to Washington, D.C. and beyond

Television viewers in Washington, D.C., will soon begin receiving Russian news and entertainment programming via broadcast and cable.

Russian World TV, which is owned in part by the Russian government, plans to deliver more than 40 hours of programming to viewers in Washington by the middle of this month thanks to a distribution agreement with MHz Networks.

Currently, Russian World TV provides some programming without subtitles to viewers in New York City and Miami.

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