NEWS AND VIEWS
               JULY 12, 2007

Mike and Laurel Kohl
S-9141 State Highway 23
Plain, Wisconsin   53577-9612



July 12  2007

Last Friday night and all day Saturday were just like old times---if you remember satellite coverage of live events from years gone by.  Live Aid back in 1985 was one of the highlights of the good old days, when those with a big dish had an incredible amount of variety.  July 7th's 24-hour marathon of LIVE EARTH concerts from 9 venues on seven continents was a breath of fresh air to this aging satellite enthusiast.  A glance at the NBC Network 3-hour compilation of the event brought parallel comparisons to its past coverage of the Olympics.  150 performing acts from 9 venues on 7 continents cannot be adequately contained in a 3-hour show, even if it was commercial-free.  (And it was loaded with those things).

What I can say is that I was able to catch most of the Sydney, Australia, and London, England, coverage live and without interruption.  Unlike those punished by American coverage, which was greatly limited, our friends to the north in Canada had a very cooperative display anchored by the CTV Network, which had continuous coverage overnight, but had a fleet of cable channels covering most everything live.  Star Choice viewers with appropriate subscriptions to channels such as MUCH MUSIC, MUCH MORE MUSIC, BRAVO, STAR-TV, MSNBC, and others could tune to many events almost gavel to gavel, with very limited interruption from commercials (maybe 1 minute at a time every half hour or more).  The show's organizers put together many dozens of public service type messages urging all to take little steps to save our world from the present course of global warming.  Many were quite witty, and one British exchange between a shopkeeper and a middle aged woman buying jugs of milk, and whether or not to provide a plastic bag was priceless.  I was lucky enough to get a copy of the full announcement, and was later stunned at how NBC-TV showed it in abbreviated form later on Saturday evening.  Even this well prepared skit was hacked to maybe half its original length, which very much ruined the humor originally intended.  NBC sliced and diced the entire show just like the Olympics, and now there are reports of extremely limited (poor) ratings from their Saturday evening prime time show.  Some people just don't get it!

How did all of these shows get here?  Intelsat brought everything in to London's master control via satellite and fiber connections, but there were extensive live satellite feeds, many in high definition format, available to those with a proper MPEG-2 free-to-air receiver, and access to C and Ku-band, with a special number of Ku-band feeds found on Intelsat 9 Ku-band at 58 West, which required a Universal LNBF.  But those that were properly equipped had a day's worth of musical performance to be remembered for a lifetime.  

The significance of the entire performance got me thinking about the Pansat 9000 HD receiver, presently available, along with a utility receiver such as the Traxis DBS-3500, for fast blind scanning, being able to catch both standard as well as high definition signals for this and future events.  Combine the high definition as well as standard definition off-air terrestrial TV and satellite offerings, and the Pansat 9000 is a very good idea once it has been programmed and installed.  If you were on the fence about getting set up for reception of your local TV signals in digital, this will allow it to happen.  All of this in one box, and it can be hooked up to not only an HD monitor and surround sound system, but also to conventional non-HD televisions around the house.  Standard definition in digital looks much better than most existing analog signals, and getting perfection in the reception is normally less challenging.  When one analyzes the 429.00 price on the Pansat 9000 receiver, think about options now and in the future.  Pansat plans on another receiver in the fall, that will have blind scan as well as HD satellite, but it will be missing the digital off-air tuner.  You could wait until later---but other than having blind scan (which you can do today with a separate receiver such as the Traxis DBS-3500), there really is little to be gained by waiting, and if you are in need of a local off air digital solution, it's here now in the Pansat 9000.  Those readers of this column that mention it can have a Pansat 9000-HD receiver as well as a Traxis DBS-3500, for a price of 499.00 for both, plus shipping.  The Traxis DBS-3500 will be preprogrammed with your requested satellite lineup on a custom basis at no extra charge.

Enthusiasts of STAR CHOICE (Canada) and especially those considering High Definition, hear this news.  Receivers such as the DSR-505 and the 530 DVR will be fully capable of the new 8PSK format that is being implemented during the months of August and September.  Present offerings will be expanded during and after the transition, providing more channels.  Older receivers such as the DSR-500, as well as those using a 400 series receiver and an HDD-201 HDTV decoder will have to upgrade to the DSR-505 or any other new HD formatted receiver in order to receive HD in the future.  You will need access to both Anik F1R at 107.3 West as well as Anik F2 satellite at 111.1 West to get the full slate of Star Choice channels.  

Here is the tentative switch schedule for Star Choice HD channels.  New Anik F2 transponders are listed:

August 9 - Transponder 17:  French channels SERIES + HD, CANAL VIE HD, and Z-TELE HD (new).
September 6 - Transponder 21:  HD NET, A&E-HD, and a new HD channel.
September 6 - Transponder 27:  One new HD channel plus French HD channels SRC and SUPER ECRAN.
September 18 - Transponder  2:  SHOWCASE-HD, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC-HD, and DISCOVERY-HD.
September 18 - Transponder 18:  CBS-West HD, NBC-West HD, ABC-West HD (new).
September 19 - Transponder 10:  TSN-HD, CBC-HD, and PBS-HD.
September 19 - Transponder 11:  CTV-HD, TMN-HD, and a new HD channel.
September 19 - Transponder 12:  CBS-East HD, ROGERS SPORTSNET-HD, and WGN Chicago-HD.
September 20 - Transponder 15:  FOX-East HD, NBC-East HD, and ABC-East HD.
September 20 - Transponder 31:  Three new HD channels.
September 20 - Transponder 32:  FOX-West HD, MOVIE CENTRAL-HD, and a new HD channel.

Simple match counts 33 HD channels should be running after September 20.
A new channel numbering scheme is being unveiled soon, for both HD TV and audio channels.
More details on the new HD channels will be released as it happens, with little other advance information until the last minute, if history repeats itself.  
When completed, Star Choice 207, 317, 505 and 530 receivers will all share the same programming guide, which has quicker response, more listing capacity, and other improved features.  Earlier (legacy) receivers in the 200, 300 and 400 series will continue to function, but will lack some of the expanded features found in current and new receiver models.
That is about all the news that I can conjure up for July.

Until next month,