NEWS AND VIEWS September 26, 2009
Mike and Laurel Kohl
S-9141 State Road 23
Plain, Wisconsin 53577-9612
September 26, 2009
Summer certainly went by quickly, and we're still struggling with getting organized for a planned move to Minnesota. If all goes well, a moving van full of things will be going into storage within a week (weather and logistics permitting), which will finally allow a thorough sorting of household items and the ability to easily move things from room to room for painting, etc. To paraphrase George Carlin, over 16 years worth of collecting "stuff" in one location has really created a lot of stuff to organize and move.
As the weeks have gone by in a flash, one of the few things to focus on has been the incredible number of famous people that have passed away this summer. Walter Cronkite, Ted Kennedy, Mary Travers, Henry Gibson...just to mention a few, after the roll seemed to start back in June with Ed McMahon, Michael Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett passing within a 24 hour period. Remembrances of these people have pointed out their prolific contributions to American culture as well as world history. Satellite television is still a key tool to use when trying to accumulate all of the information possible on such people, when news coverage focuses on their departure from the living.
We have been available most weeks to do a live Friday night show, but Ralf Black has had the experience of having way too many news events happening at his doorstep. It seemed to start about the time of remembrances of the 4th anniversary of the Katrina disaster, when many news organizations saw a story in trying to analyze the anniversary, and what has happened in the last four years. Politics seem to drive much of his other business, and New Orleans has somehow been a magnet for people to be available for interviews. The networks call and book time in his New Orleans studio, often on short notice, and Ralf then becomes unavailable to do a show. Blair Alper was able to do a fill-in last evening, and we hope things get back to whatever "normal" is next week. I may have occasional periods during our extended moving process where I may also be unavailable some evenings. Whatever happens, we will continue...if you want to revisit an old show, there are archives that can be linked to from the Access America website.
Satellite news this summer has been all over the map, including the final shutoff of former Equity broadcasting stations on both C-band Galaxy 3C (95 West) and Ku-band satellite Galaxy 18 (123 West). The company went through bankruptcy proceedings early in 2009, and the result was that their many television station properties had to be sold to pay off large debts. Most of the new station owners had no reason to continue uplinking a satellite feed from Little Rock, so signals were removed one by one until there were no more...providing a rude awakening to hobbyists and others that had gotten used to getting their network "fix" via a Ku-band dish at 123 West. Those wanting Univision programming can still get it on C-band, with a new multiplex now available in MPEG-2 free to air on the 118.7 C-band satellite ANIK F-3, which splits Spanish channels with some feeds from AMG affiliated stations (10 total in this group). Want more Spanish programming? Take your Ku-band dish and point it to 125 West, where Montana PBS and the national PBS channels reside. Do a blind scan and find an East and a West coast service for the newly expanded ESTRELLA TV network, just making its national debut for the Spanish community.
Other PBS news includes a new simulcast in MPEG-2 of the channels from Nebraska that have been transmitting on 89 West-C band in the Digicipher 2 format. You will need AC-3 audio capability, and one channel is in HD (get a Pansat 9200 receiver), but this opens up a number of educational channels for free-to-air viewers. Signal is a bit on the weak side due to the simultaneous transmission of both groups of channels, so we would recommend a 10-foot dish with digitally rated LNB and well-tuned feed assembly.
Speaking of Pansat, we are now taking orders for their new commercial receiver, which adds a 19-inch rack mount assembly to the existing Pansat 9200HD receiver, two cooling fans, and a front panel switch to disable the infrared remote control when desired. The latter is very useful in multiple receiver systems where they are stacked vertically, allowing one to reprogram individual receivers by temporarily turning on the remote control ability without disturbing the settings on other receivers. First units have been tested and delivered with excellent feedback...it comes with the option with or without the DVB-S2 board. Combine blind scanning, better tuner sensitivity, the ability to tune MPEG-2 -and- MPEG-4 signals, along with the DVB-S2 option, and place the receiver in a rack mount design with added features, and this has the potential to turn the commercial receiver market upside down. There are many commercial installations using very overpriced professional receivers that do not have half of the features and abilities found in the Pansat 9200. The price...which may at first appear steep to the hobbyist, is exactly the opposite when compared to commercial products costing several thousand dollars. There will be a waiting line for these receivers, so if you are the least bit interested, please contact us about ordering as soon as possible.
The number of channels
using the MPEG-4 DVB-S2 format continues to grow, especially on the Latin
American front. We hope to shortly offer at least a limited DVB-S2
channel listing, and are doing continuous research to find available
channels. One of the problems is that many channels are only there
for a temporary time, and some---such as the Costa Rican group that just
converted from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 DVB-S2 last month, scramble after
converting. If you would like a look at the quality
possibilities, go to the C-band side of 121 West and compare the standard
definition as well as the high definition versions of AZTECA
television. Quite amazing, especially on live programs. Then
there is also the 70 plus channel group (and growing) from Henry Luken's
RETRO (RTV) network and other channels being transmitted on the C-band
side of 87 West in DVB-S2. Not great picture quality, but also not
really a problem given the vintage of some of the programs shown.
These are custom feeds for individual TV stations. RTV will soon
have at least three other companions, with a sports and outdoor oriented
network called TUFF TV already on the air, along with a second Retro
channel and a children's channel in the wings. If these are
successful, you may see many more in the future. Unless your local
broadcast stations are transmitting these stations, the best recipe to
receive them starts with at least a 10 foot antenna (12 would be better),
and the Pansat 9200HD receiver with DVB-S2 module. C-band is by no
means going away, and this appears to be the start of something
great. Equity Broadcasting was a great idea, but poorly developed
financially. Retro and its brethren could go a long way towards
providing no-subscription classic television alternatives to cable and
companies such as DirecTV and DISH Network.