Welcome to the December edition of the Satellite Television and Radio pages. Just a reminder, all television and radio mentioned on these pages is received free-to-air in the DVB digital format unless otherwise noted.
This month we take a brief update of the conditions of the AJK TV studios in Muzaffarabad following the Kashmir earthquake, coverage of Harbin's toxic river crisis on local television and radio and then move on to some recommended viewing for the summer break.
AJK TV - latest news
Last month we reported that since the South Asian earthquake on October 8th, AJK TV has not been on air. Since last month's issue we have learnt that the building which housed both Azad Kashmir Television (AJK TV) and Azad Kashmir Radio (AJK Radio) in Muzaffarabad was reduced to a heap of rubble. Only one section of the broadcasting complex was left partially standing with the majority of the centre simply being transformed to twisted equipment racks left sticking out from among bricks and broken pieces of furniture. About 160 people worked in the building with reports that about half of them perished.
Engineers, journalists and workers alike have returned to the ruins of the studios and re-launched a radio service which they call the voice of Kashmir, Azad Kashmir Radio, FM 101. "We're starting again from zero," says Muhammad Ilyas, the station's editor in chief. The one-kilowatt transmitter was shipped from Islamabad and the station is broadcasting from a sheet-metal studio.
The return to air of regular programming from AJK TV will obviously take some considerable time however Pakistan Television (PTV) news feeds using the AJK TV uplink in Muzaffarabad are now being seen regularly in the Pakistani afternoon using the former AJK TV frequency of 3778, Vertical, 3333, 3/4 on Asiasat 2.
Harbin's toxic river
The November 13 explosion at a Jilin petrochemical plant created an 80 km long toxic slick in the Songhua River, a tributary of the Amur in north-eastern China. The slick, predominantly made up of benzene and nitrobenzene, passed through Harbin, the capital of the Heilongjiang Province and one of the largest cities in China. In response, Harbin implemented a five-day suspension of its water supply. This led to many residents of Harbin leaving the city in panic, with train and plane tickets leaving the city sold out within a few hours. The Chinese authorities rushed drinking water to the residents. This did not abate the panic buying of foodstuffs and drinking water however.
Both Heilongjiang Provincal Television and Heilongjiang News Radio located in Harbin offered comprehensive coverage of the event with frequent coverage of the movement of the toxic slick and the effect of the crisis on the residents of the province. Heilongjiang TV & Heilongjiang News Radio are available on Asiasat 3, Vertical, 4420, 3/4.
Good Morning Caribbean!
With warm summer nights now with us here in Australia, what better way to enjoy the balmy evenings than settling down on the couch for a session of tropical television. French Caribbean breakfast television broadcasts from the studios of Télé Guyane in Rémire Montjoly, Cayenne, French Guiana. The broadcast is easily received in most parts of Eastern Australia via France Ô on Intelsat 701 located high above the International Date Line at 180 degrees east.
"Matin Peyi" is the weekday breakfast television program broadcasting to Guyana, Guadeloupe, and Martinique via Télé Guyane, Télé Guadeloupe and Télé Martinique. Just like breakfast television all around the world Marin Peyi presents a program of news, sports, music and light entertainment that allows a fascinating insight into Caribbean culture and life.
Of particular interest to DXers would be the live crosses to the breakfast DJ's at RFO Radio Guyane, Radio Guadeloupe and Radio Martinique who discuss local news and events with the Matin Peyi host. Martin Peyi can be seen Tuesday to Friday from 2100 to 2300 Australian Eastern Daylight Time (7 AM to 9 AM Guyane local time) on France Ô, Intelsat 701, 1174 Horizontal, 2310, 3/4.
Yang Ban Xi
Remember tuning the shortwave radio dial in 1970's? You were sure to hear the revolutionary anthem "The East is Red" on Radio Peking. With China now undertaking an economic revolution rather than a cultural revolution you don't often stumble across examples of the old sounds in today's Chinese media. Because of associations with the Cultural Revolution, songs such as The East is Red are now rarely heard since the rise of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. Today in China the song is considered a somewhat unseemly reminder of the cult of personality associated with Mao. The East is Red has largely been replaced by the official Chinese National Anthem the "March of the Volunteers", which has lyrics with no reference to the Communist Party or Mao.
Complementing the rousing anthems from the 1970's was Yang Ban Xi, the propaganda spectacles which replaced traditional opera during the l0 years of the Cultural Revolution. Mao's wife Jiang Qing, an untalented actress but an effective driving force as a politician personally directed the Yang Ban Xi productions. A revolutionary, propagandistic operatic formula the Yang Ban Xi completely replaced traditional Peking opera and eight of these revolutionary operas became incredibly popular and simply known as the 8 model works. Shot in Technicolor and Panorama, the world view was of simple, happy workers and soldiers versus squinty, shady landowners and other anti-revolutionaries. For years these works had incalculable influence until the fury of the Cultural Revolution waned and Madame Mao was convicted as a member of the Gang of Four.
Oddly enough Yang Ban Xi is delighting audiences again. Young Chinese are drawn by the classic "retro" feel to the productions. Yang Ban Xi also lays close to the heart of many of China's aged population due to its association with their own youth. These days Yang Ban Xi seems to be popular more for its entertainment value, rather than its revolutionary message.
It's rare to find Yang Ban Xi on Chinese television these days; however in late November a station known as "The Aged (Seniors Channel)" (also known as Laonian Fu TV) commenced broadcasting on Asiasat 4. The channel is currently opening each day's transmission at 10 AM Beijing time (1 PM Australian Eastern Daylight Time) and closes around 8 PM Beijing time. The Aged Channel presents a variety of entertainment and educational offerings for Chinese senior citizens, with Yang Ban Xi productions featuring prominently within the programs. Asiasat 4, 122 degrees east, 3940 Vertical, 27500, 3/4.
Bollywood dominates the music styles found on the majority of the Hindi language television channels receivable in Australia and New Zealand. Finding traditional Indian music on Indian television requires a fair amount of searching. One of the few programs available is the excellent "Ninaad" on the Star Utsav channel on Asiasat 3.
Ninaad presents melodious morning ragas performed at the crack of the Indian dawn by some of the legendary masters of Indian classical music. The musicians not only perform lengthy musical selections but also educate viewers (in the Hindi language) the history and story behind each raga. Ninaad is presented at dawn Monday to Friday from 0530 Indian Standard Time (11:00 AM Australian Eastern Daylight Time) on Star Utsav, Asiasat 3, 3780, Vertical, 28100, 3/4.
Star Utsav along with Channel [V] China and Star Sports Asia are free-to-air within the Star TV transponders on Asiasat 3. Star Television (a wholly-owned subsidiary of News Corporation) was the pioneer of Asian satellite television. The Star network has expanded dramatically since its launch in 1991 with five television channels on Asiasat 1. The Star network triggered explosive growth in the media industry across the entire region. Today Star broadcasts over 80 channels in seven languages with a wide choice of entertainment, sports, movies, music, news and documentaries. Star channels land into 53 countries across Asia, and Star viewers are estimated to be approximately 100 million every day.
New on Asiasat 4 - 122.2 degrees east
Late November a new selection of Chinese channels commenced transmissions on Asiasat 4. The programs from the seven new channels nicely supplement the other out of the ordinary free-to-air channels already operating on Asiasat 4.
The "Asian Shopping Channel" operates 24 hour a day home shopping and appears to focus primarily on selling mobile phone handsets and other electronic consumer goods manufactured in China.
"Early Education" commences daily transmissions at 8 AM Beijing time (11 AM Australian Eastern Daylight Time) with educational programs for both children and parents with segments such as "Baby News" and funky Asian animation promoting the benefits of children washing their hands before eating.
The "Lottery Fun Channel" opens daily at 10 AM Beijing time (1 PM Australian Eastern Daylight Time) and features the stories of ordinary people who found wealth and fortune by investing in Lotto tickets and scratchies. The channel of course also encourages you, the viewer, to take advantage of other equally exciting wealth creation systems, such as lottery tickets!
"Laonian Fu" presents programming for China's senior citizens - see the "Yang Ban Xi" information presented a few paragraphs back in this month's Satellite Pages for more details.
The "European Football Channel" presents 24-hour a day European soccer programming.
The "English Teaching Channel" commences each day's broadcast at 6 AM Beijing time (9 AM Australian Eastern Daylight Time) with English language lessons.
"Vision Life" presents a variety of general programming focused on hobbies and other past-times such as walking dogs and photography.
Happy holidays and how to save some dollars
Have a great Christmas and New Year! I know a few members have wished for a dish and receiver to be under the Christmas tree this year, I hope you wish comes true! The ADXN magazine takes a break in January, though you can keep up with the latest in the meantime at www.satdirectory.com.
John Wright reports there are plenty of the "MediaExplorer" DVDs at a special member price available through the club's publications store. By purchasing MediaExplorer through the club you will receive almost 50% off the regular bookshop retail price. MediaExplorer is a full multimedia catalogue of free-to-air signals available from major regional satellites to backyards in Australia and New Zealand. With six DVD video disks and the companion DVD-ROM content, MediaExplorer features over eleven hours of world television and fourteen hours of radio from hundreds of broadcasters around the planet. It's the equivalent of both the "World Radio TV Handbook" and the "Passport" book for satellite dish users. Even if you don't intend to put up a dish it's a great way to glimpse into what the whole digital satellite revolution is about. Further details on MediaExplorer are at www.mediaexplorer.org.
AJK TV back on air with news feeds - Asiasat 2
Heilongjiang Provincal Television, Harbin - Asiasat 3
Matin Peyi via France Ô - Intelsat 701
Golden Eagle Cartoon Channel - Apstar VI
Early Education Channel - Asiasat 4