The Cable and Television Revolution In Europe


Why we have chosen this subject? Before starting to write
about TV in Sweden, Germany and France, we wanted to
compare French,German and Swedish media. But on account of
the wideness of this analysis, we decided to focus on the
evolution of TV broadcasting during these last 10 years.
The technical revolution which has appeared in this area
since 1980 is necessary to be understood to be able to
follow and forecast what will happen in the future when
multinational companies can take a look on pan-european
broadcasting. In this paper we try to make the point on
this changes. Furthermore as we came from different
countries and live now in an other one, we found it
interesting to compare the three countries (France, Germany
and Sweden) TV- broadcasting system. While we were
searching for datas, we discovered the gap that exists in
cable-covering between France and the two other countries.
What are the main reasons of this delay? Are they
political, financial or cultural? We will try to answer
these questions in our paper. But we will first define the
different technical terms that we are going to focus on.
Then we will developp the birth of private channels, their
regulations, laws and financing in the different countries.
2. BASICS In our paper you will find the following
technical terms: ¥ terrestrial broadcasting: this is the
basic technology used to broadcast radio and TV. It«s the
use of radio-frequencies that can be received by a simple
antenna. The problem by using terrestrial broadcasting is,
that you only have a few (up to max. 7) possible
frequencies and that you need to have expensive
transmitters every 100-150 kms to cover an area. Programms
which are broadcasted terrestrical are e.g.: Swedish TV 1,
2 and 4; German ARD, ZDF, 3. Programme and some private
channels in urban areas; French TF 1, France 2 and France
3. ¥ cable TV: the reason why you have only a few
frequencies by using terrestrial broadcasting is that
terestrial broadcasting is influenced by physical phenomens
(bandwith) whereas broadcasting in a cable is
shielded/protected from outside influences. So you can have
more channels on the same bandwith-space. For example: a
cable might carry 7 programmes catched with an antenna from
terrestrical transmitters and additional 25 satellite
channels (maximum 30-35 different channels in one cable).
Instead of connecting to an antenna cable-households
connect their TV-sets to the cable-network. ¥ satellite
broadcasting: a satellite is a transmitter that is
positioned on a course in space 40.000 kms far from earth.
The advantage of this technology is to cover a wide area
with only one transmitter. Modern direct broadcasting
satellites (DBS, e.g. Astra) can be received by small (³
30cm) and cheap (³ 2.000:- SKR) "satellite-dishes". To
connect a TV-set to the "dish" you also need a device that
converts the received satellite-signals to signals that can
be used by a standard TV-set. In the beginning (80s) this
technology needed huge and expensive dishes and was only
used to transmit signals to cable-networks. Newer
technology is often cheaper than connecting a house to a
cable-network. In east-Germany the German PTT (Telekom) is
competing with their cable-network against the cheap
satellite-dishes. The most tranceiver-signals on DBS-Astra
are booked by British (NBC- Super, MTV...) and German (RTL,
SAT-1...) broadcasters. Satellites can also be used for
telephone-connections, TV- or radio- broadcasting.
The first broadcasting tests happenned in the late 30Ôs
like in Germany. It is only in 1945, after the second world
war, that The Ordinance formalized the state monopoly of
broadcasting which was assigned to Radiodiffusion de
France. The Radiodiffusion de France has then included
television in 1959 and became RTF (Radiodiffusion-
Television de France). Established as a public company
accountable to the Ministery of Information, RTF became an
"Office" (ORTF) still supervised by the government. The
events that happened in France in May 1968, have then
helped the government to liberalize the medium. The
government of information was therefore abolished and in
1974, an Act divided the ORTF in seven different public
companies which formed the public broadcasting service :
TF1, Antenne 2, FR3, Radio France, TDF, SFP, INA. Private
channels emerge in France with Canal Plus the
crypted-paying channel in 1984. This terrestical channel is
owned by Havas. Canal Plus has to broadcast a daily clear
program lasting from 45 minutes to 6 hours, the average is
3 hours and a half per day. In 1985 sees the birth of two
new private channels France 5 and TV6 which were forbidden
to broadcast the year after. Finally in 1987, they have
refound the right to broadcast under the respective name La
Cinq and M6. At this time, it already existed five public
(rebaptised France 2 a generalist broadcasting television),
FR3 (today called France 3, a national and regional TV), TV
5 Europe (European channel launched in 1983, transmits
programmes broadcast in French-speaking countries by
satellite) and RFO (transmits radio and TV programmes to
French overseas territories and possessions). In may 1992,
ARTE-La Sept, the Franco-German channel has started to
broadcast on the French and German cable-net. Then when the
private French channel, La Cinq, stopped broadcasting, ARTE
was allowed to broadcast from 19h to 1h in the morning on
this available frequence. The 13th of december 1994, has
appeared a new public channel "La Cinquieme" also called
"channel of knowledge" (la cha"ne du savoir) which is
broadcasting on the same frequence as ARTE until 19h. To
Cinquieme Canal+ (pay-tv) RFO TV 5 3.2 CABLE/SATELLITE TV
Cable channels were launched in France in 1984, 2% of the
households were cabled. This initiative came from Minister
Mauroy who presented cable as "a massive, consistent and
orderly solution to satisfy multiple communication needs".
In fact this cable plan met opposition of several parties.
This was representing to high costs, and the state
organization (DGT) assigned of the overall control control
of the implementation of the new technology antagonized the
manufacturers of cable equipment who proved unable to
produce what was required within the agreed price and time.
In 1986, the cable plan was definitevly abandonned. Around
10 private companies are now responsible for promoting the
cable, for instance la compagnie gZnZrale de
videocommunication, la Lyonnaise Communication, Eurocable
... It exists 25 local channels, 13 French channels are
broadcasted, cable now reaches 25,3% of French households
and the fee vary from 115:SKR to 400:SKR on account of the
number of channels you wish receiving. It costs a lot of
money for the company to share the cable in France as it
requires the use of an expensive material such as the
optical microfiber. Because of this cost, the cable net is
now set for collectivity instead of individuals.
Furthermore this installation can only be achieved on the
will of the county otherwise the autorisation can not be
received by the cable company. the commercial board of the
cable society has to convince these communities. France
programmes diffused through satellite are in fact the one
you can get thanks to the cable. 3.3 LAWS AND REGULATIONS
The C.S.A. (Conseil SupZrieur de lÔ Audiovisuel) is the
authority responsible in France for broadcastingÔs
chosen by the President of Republique - three chosen by the
President of Senat - three other by the President of
National Assembly This institution is really politicised as
we can see. It insures respect of pluralist expression of
ideas, of French language and culture, of free competition,
of quality and diversity of programs ... It also regulates
the frequences gestion. It can interfer as well in the
public as in the private sector. It gives the autorisations
of exploitation of cable networks, satellite and
terrestrial Television, M6 and Canal Plus for instance are
allowed to broadcast for 10 years, then tehy have to
renegociate their autorisation of broadcasting.
Autorisations for CableTV last 20 years and can be allowed
to companies or "regies" on local elected peopleÔs
proposal. Furthermore French and foreign channels which
want to broadcast on cable net need to sign a convention
with the CSA. The implementation of the net is then under
the Commune responsibility. The CSA makes also policy such
as advertising to be respected. The time of advertising per
hours is 12 mns. TF1 for instance has overpassed this
allowance of 81 secondes and 94 secondes an other time and
was therefore obliged to pay 2. 800.000,00 Ffr
(4.000.000,00:SEK), which equals 16.000 Ffr per second
(23.000,00:SEK). It also reuglates the political
intervention on the public channel and made the law of the
three third to be regarded. This regulation is that the
channel in a political programm should respect 1/3 for the
government, 1/3 for majority and 1/3 for opposition. 3.4
TV-experiments in Germany were made in the 1930s to
broadcast e.g. the Olympic Games. After World War II the
harbinger of the first German TV-station ARD began
broadcasting under allied control in 1949 in northern
Germany and Northrhine-Westfalia under the responsibility
of the NWDR-Laenderanstalt. The ARD is a broadcaster with
only organizing functions for the "Laender"-based
production facilities (Laenderanstalten, e.g. NDR, WDR...).
Every part of the programm that is broadcasted under the
label ARD is produced under the responsibility of a
state-based station. The second german broadcaster ZDF is
different from ARD. The ZDF produces TV on its own but the
station is indirectly controlled by a conference of the
states. There are also several regional "third" channels
bound to the culture of one or more states which are only
broadcastet within the states and are produced by the
"Laenderanstalten". Private TV-programmes were introduced
in 1984. You will find more about the introduction on the
following page. There were 15 Germany- based
TV-broadcasters in 1994. To summarise, today the
(general interest): 
Arte (with F) Sat 1
3-Sat (with AU + CH) Pro7
DW-TV (foreign service) private (special
interest): private (pay TV): Kabel 1 Premiere Vox
Viva RTL 2 DSF n-tv Definitions on the next page! 4.2
CABLE/SATELLITE TV The German PTT developed as one of the
first PTT«s in Europe standards in cabling private
households. But in the late 70«s the social democrats (SPD)
blocked the PTT because the Bonn government was afraid that
cable technology would lead into private TV. After the
changing the government in 1982 the new conservative
government (CDU) and the minister for post and
telecommunication Schwarz- Schilling invested in the new
cable-technology. The first private TV-broadcasters (SAT-1
and RTLplus) got their license for a cable-trial-project in
Ludwigshafen in 1984. After starting the Ludwigshafen
project (estimated for 3 years duration) the countries with
conservative majority allowed the PTT to broadcast the
trial-programmes from the trial-projects in their regular
cable-networks. This was the beginning of private TV in
Germany and a trial-project became regular-service within a
few months... . After a decision from the highest court in
1986 commercial TV was legal. The social democrats (SPD)
changed their politics against private TV in the late 80«s
and gave licenses to a few of the most important private
broadcasters in states with a SPD majority. Now Koeln
(Cologne) in the state of Northrhine-Westfalia (SPD) is one
of the most important places for German media (RTL,
Viva-TV, Vox) among the traditional "media-capitols"
Hamburg and Muenchen. After unification in 1990 the PTT
Telekom invested in cable Networks in the former GDR. But
1994 only 14 percent of all east-German households were
connected to a cablenetwork and even terrestrical
broadcasting still has not reached the "western" standard.
For eastern Germany satelite-TV is very important. For this
reason the German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF decided
in 1992 to broadcast via the ASTRA-Sat to reach the eastern
population. In 1993 the PTT signed a contract with the
Luxemburg based ASTRA-Enterprises to become a associate
member of this commercial organization. Since 1995 the
Telekom is a private company and there are plans to provide
technology for digital and pay-TV in the future. 17 % of
all east-German households and 11% of all west-German hh
have a satellite-dish (1993). More than 90% of the
german-sat-dishes are focused on the Astra-Sat. Connected
to a cablenetwork are 48% (west) and 14% (east) of all
households. In some urban areas free terrestrial
frequencies are licensed to a few private channels (RTL,
Sat 1, Pro 7). Local TV is very new in Germany, the first
License was given by the states Berlin and Brandenburg to
"1A-Brandenburg" in 1993 for the towns Potsdam and Berlin.
There are also some projects in state financed open
channels in several cable networks. 4.3 LAWS AND
REGULATIONS Among the three countries we compare, Germany
is the only country running a "federal system". Media in
general are underlying rules and laws by the decentralized
several state-governments within the Federal Republic of
Germany. Also the public broadcasters are ruled by the
several states (Laender) and the private channels get their
Licenses from the states. The reason for the decentralized
broadcasting system in Germany is the German "Grundgesetz",
the Basic Law that guarantees the "cultural sovereinty" of
the staates. This Basic Law protects the media from
possible political interests a central (Bonn or Berlin
based) government might have. Even the fees for the
public-broadcasters are fixed by decissions from a
conference of the federal states. The only exception now is
the Deutsche Welle (DW-TV), a broadcaster for foreign
countries which is used as a "ambassador" for german
culture and is under special government-regulation. In the
80s all German states drafted private-media laws. Now every
state has the legal possibility to give licenses to
commercial TV- stations. The supervisory body for Licenses
in each state is called "Landesmedienanstalt". Because of
the decentralised German system all laws and regulations
concerning commercial broadcasters are connected to the
"cultural sovereinty" of the states. To avoid that a
private broadcaster has to license his programm in every of
the 16 German states all states signed a contract
(Staatsvertrag). This contract guarantees e.g. that each
state will accept the license given by a
Landesmedienanstalt in a single German state. In this
contract are also fixed regulations about ownership,
content of programmes and the possibility for each
"Landesmediananstalt" to accuse decisions made in an other
state. Each Landesmedienanstalt is also responsible for the
decission which programmes are allowed to be broadcasted in
the PTT-cable-network in their state (normally: 1. stations
licenced within the state, 2. stations licenced in other
states, 3. foreign stations). Another important assignment
of the Landesmedienanstalt is to watch the german
media-ownership-regulations. There are special quotations
in ownership which have to be controlled. The strongest
regulation is that no one is allowed to hold more than 50%
on an broadcaster. An other important mechanism is the
declaration of a channel, there are declarations as
"special interest" (only one topic, e.g. sport, movies),
"general interest" (with information/news) and "pay TV".
The most important german media-investors are Bertelsmann
(RTL, Premiere) and the Kirch-Group (Sat 1, Kabel 1, Pro
7). Both groups are accused to violate the ownership and
monopoly-law that will be renewed within this year. Because
of the relative liberal-license-law in 1994 more than 10
new entrepeneurs anounced to apply for a german TV-license
(e.g. Disney). 5. SWEDEN 5.1 HISTORY Unlike Germany and
France where they started with experimental TV-
broadcasting in the late 30«s Sweden launched its first
channel in 1956. But like in France and Germany the state
had a monopoly on broadcasting. The first Swedish channel
was Channel 1 the second channel (TV 2) was launched in
1969. Since 1987 the two public television channels have
been organized in such a way that TV 1 is based on
programme production in Stockholm and and TV 2 on
production in ten TV districts in the provinces. The first
two private Swedish channels where introduced in Sweden in
1987 by satellite and cable. TV 3 and Filmnet-pay TV are
swedish owned but were not allowed and licensed to send on
terrestrial frequencies so they transmit via satellite and
cable. In 1989 the third satellite broadcaster the Nordic
Channel was launched and two more pay-TV channels, TV 1000
and SF-SuccZ where introduced to the market. TV 1000 and
SuccZ merged two years later. The first private channel
licensed to transmitt terrestrial within Sweden was TV 4 in
1991. To summarise, today the Swedish TV-broadcasters are :
TV 2 TV 4
TV 5
Nordic (pay-tv)
TV 1000 (pay-tv) 5.2 CABLE AND SAT The construction of
cable networks begann in 1984. This share was supposed to
bring 3 000 employments perr year for 7 years and was a
mean to protect telephone monopoly. Now Sweden is among the
european countries with the most cable subscribers (B, NL,
CH). Up to 50% of all households in sweden have acces to
the cable and 7% own a satellite-dish Like in France the
cable-networks gave a chance for local stations.
Advertising is not allowed for these local stations so they
have a lack of money and often broadcast only a few hours a
day. Local-TV is provided in circa 30 towns and can be seen
by 16% of all Swedes (1993). Satellite installation was
given birth in the middle of the 1970Ôs through an
agreement among the five Nordic countries to launch
NORDSAT. This satellite would inforce the cooperation
between these countries and also helpes to promote nordic
culture. In fact this project died and a Tele-X was
launched by Sweden and Norway, then Finland joined the
project. Nowadays 60 % of the Swedish households have
access to the satellite channels. 5.3 LAWS AND REGULATIONS
-cable transmission legislation 1992 In Sweden, the Radio
Act and the Enabling Agreement between the braodcasting
companies and the State are leading broadcasting policies
The State exercise no control over the programms prior to
broadcasting. However a Broadcasting council is empowered
to raise objections to specific programms. The Cable Law
-The two Swedish public channels are financed by a license
6. CONCLUSION In the times of public-tv the few possible
frequencies for terrestrical-broadcasting where used by the
very few public channels in each country. These channels
were under control of the state and not connected to
financiel interests of owners or investors. With the
beginning of the 80s the invention of cable TV made
broadcasting from up to 30 channels possible. Our
governments had to face the demand for TV-licenses and also
had to invest in cable- infrastructure. In the late 80s new
direct broadcasting satelites gave the same number of
channels to households in less developed regions. One thing
we found out and can face now as a major fact is that there
is no cable-infrastructure in France and only a few
commercial channels (compared to the 57 million
inhibitants). The market seems to be influenced by the
default of the state to provide cable access. For some
reasons we can«t evaluate from sweden in a few weeks how
the "sleeping beauty" France managed not to develop a
cable-network. But we can compare the facts for all three
countries and conclude: -dual system in all 3 countries
(public and private tv since mid 80s) -tv is important in
all countries 97% (see chart) -pay tv is introduced in all
countries 7. QUESTIONS TO THE CLASS -maybe there is no
demand for cable in France? -will the public channels
survive? -we only evaluated quantity and historical
information and facts- what about quality? 


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