NEWS AND VIEWS
          August 15, 2008

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



August 15, 2008

The Beijing Olympics have been going for a week as I write, and it's another excuse to lose a bit of sleep.  The entire country of China is on one time zone, which is 13 hours ahead of Central time.   Here, it's the day before, and 11 hours earlier.  Or AM = PM, except subtract an hour.  This means much delayed programming for viewers in North American prime time, when it is early morning in China.  After about 9pm our local time, things start moving again in live coverage, wherever you can find it.  I will be the first to congratulate NBC for an astronomical increase in the number of hours of Olympics coverage available, on the web as well as on its multiple outlets such as MSNBC and CNBC.  You will see quite a bit of live coverage at certain times of the day, if you have access to their entire output.  Canada as always seems to offer a bit more actual live coverage, with English programming on the main CBC network, some events on TSN Sports, and considerable overflow programming on CBC's former Country Canada network (now known as BOLD).  

I was playing with my MPEG-2 free to air gear the first couple of days to see what might be coming in.  First from readily accessable Ku-band signals such as those on Galaxy 25.  To my pleasant surprise, quite a bit on the Dubai Sports channel, and multiple African, Middle East and Asian countries also having some Olympics coverage that could be seen on a basic consumer dish pointing at "T-5".  There are a number of feeds for the enthusiast that is equipped with C and Ku-band, High Definition as well as S2 hardware.  We have not really discussed the multiple Latin American countries on the Eastern side of our arc, plus Mexico.  I took a look at this region late this evening, and found live programming on signals from Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba and Guatemala.  A second look at Galaxy 25 - Ku band repeated with more coverage from Dubai Sports, Iran, Algeria, Tunisia.  Those of you with C-band capabilities will also find SRC-Radio Canada from Montreal on Anik F1R and MPEG-2 signals from NBC affiliates in Casper, Wyoming and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Galaxy 16 at 99 West.  Please check our MPEG-2 channel C-band charts and find that the Caribbean mux on 99 West has changed downlink frequency to 3845 MHz and will require a re-scan on your receivers.  Signal strength and quality readings seem to be higher, however.

Yesterday was the launch of two satellites;  the one important to us will be AMC-21, which is going to the 125 West orbital position.  PBS will be sending the same multiplex group that is presently on 87 West (which seems to have power level issues as of late), so it will be a welcome addition to the western arc.  I have been playing with an otherwise unused 6 foot offset dish, which will allow 2-degree spacing of Ku-band LNBFs and easy setup of 129, 125 and 123 West on the same antenna, for starters.  You could put up several 30 to 36 inch antennas, but if one wants far stronger signals to minimize rain fade, putting up one or more 6-foot (1.8 meter) offset antennas is really the way to go.  
I have already got an antenna parked on a number of Ku-band satellites stretching from 89 West to 113 West, and it is far superior than any number of small antennas simply because of the powerful signal levels achieved.  While it can happen, it takes an absolutely torrential rain to knock out my signals, and is now being used for critical applications such as Internet receive, providing at least 3 or 4 dB more headroom than a stock 30-36 inch offset antenna.  Anyone interested in doing such a project, or wanting us to install such an antenna (within southern Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa or northern Illinois), please contact us.  We have a supply of some used 1.8 meter offsets, which will be cleaned up and retrofitted for multi feed operation.

The start of the Olympics also coincided with some unfortunate events between Russia and Georgia.  There is a wide range of opinions on who is right and who is wrong, with the western media blindly blaming Russia for everything.  While it is probably a fact that they over reacted in responding to the situation, our media seem to have not noticed that Georgia provoked the whole situation in the first place.  The Georgian president is much better at press relations than the Russians, and it would appear that he planned the attack on South Ossetia to coincide with the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in China.  His gamble was that much less media would pay attention, and he was very correct in his assumption.  Most news agencies were caught completely by surprise.  AL-JAZEERA's English service (damned by our own President George W because of past assistance to Al-Queda by their Arabic counterpart) was actually one of the most balanced news sources on the situation.  Al-Jazeera English was started AFTER 9/11 events, and has had to walk a very fine line even in the Middle East to avoid offending certain governments such as Saudi Arabia.  They hired a number of British presenters and reporters (some ex-BBC), and now have a very credible if not different view of the world than most of us are used to seeing.  I saw a fascinating report today on Al-Jazeera, which presented a roundtable of coverage on the Russia-Georgia situation, comparing output on their network as well as news clips from Fox, CNN, Russia Today, and even Georgia television.  Just seeing this comparison of diverse views reinforced my belief what a valuable tool that a free-to-air system can be in bridging various cultures and political situations.  It showed how negatively that Georgia was played on internal Russian media, and varying degrees of less negative coverage in broadcasts by Russia Today, an English language channel based in Moscow, and also staffed with a number of people that have a London connection.  Al-Jazeera was probably in the middle, with Georgia television on the opposite extreme.  Fox News was a bit sensational with their headlines, sticking to the current Republican party line that puts a negative spit on anything about the Russian government.  CNN had a piece of film footage that supposedly showed bombing damage in one city, and Al-Jazeera had an interview with a regional reporter from the Caucasus area that maintained the skyline was of another city in another country.  All very enlightening, and very useful to allow anyone to form their own opinion about world events.   We're all entitled to our own opinion, but it is a good idea to listen to others in order to reinforce or modify our previous opinions, after having further information. 

Let's examine some of the sources of English language news programming available on a Free-To-Air system for just the U.S. domestic arc:  Alaska-based 360 NORTH is now available on the continent-wide beam of C-band AMC-7 at 137 West, providing a closer look at Alaska news in detail.  BBC WORLD at 127 West.  EURONEWS (English, French, Gereman, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian) and AL-JAZEERA on 121.
Anik F1R at 107.3 West has four time zone feeds of VOICE PRINT, a reading service for the vision impaired.  English language TV and radio coverage from Germany's DEUTSCHE WELLE TV on 103 West.  On the Ku-band side, you have Holland's English Radio Nederland service on 101 West.  The United Nations of Satellite can be found at 97 West, Ku-band.  English newscasts can be found on a number of Middle East channels for a few minutes a day.  RUSSIA TODAY and AL-JAZEERA are there.  MHz WORLDVIEW TV has newscasts from many countries.  IRAN has their English language PRESS TV.  London-based WORLD RADIO NETWORK has English language radio broadcasts from major broadcasters around the world.  The latter is much more reliable than many of the shortwave broadcasts it replaces.  Don't forget CCTV-9, mainland China's English language TV channel, on 95 West.  As one goes east of our domestic satellite arc, C-band satellites at 58 & 55.5 West include back-up feeds fro DEUTSCHE WELLE-Germany, CCTv-China, EURONEWS, AL-JAZEERA, BBC World Service Radio, JNN (Jamaica News Network), NHK-WORLD TV from Japan.  

If you can speak Spanish, I cannot begin to list the huge number of television and radio signals available.  SRC-the French language arm of CBC in Canada is available.  FUTURE NEWS, an Arabic language channel from Lebanon is available.  There are dozens of channels in Arabic from the Middle East.  The list goes on and on....enough to make me comment that such a system would be a good learning tool for any junior high or high school student.  Americans working abroad often find out that they were short-changed by our educational system, which does not force them to learn any languages other than English.  We often know next to  nothing about our closest neighbors, even Canada.  Informed voters will one by one make individual decisions  that affect the future of our country as well as the rest of the world.  Does it not sound logical that having a broader view of what is going on outside our borders might be useful information in order to arrive at a truly informed choice?

You are probably sick of talking about politics, but that will be with us in two to three weeks, first with the Democratic national convention in Denver, and the Republicans having their gathering in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul.  It has been nice viewing the Olympics from sources other than our own networks (NBC), if not to avoid those pesky American political advertisements, which will likely torment us for at least another 2-1/2 months from now.

Until next time,