<DOCID> nyt960910.0378 </DOCID>
<STORYID cat=f pri=r> A2394 </STORYID>
<SLUG fv=tia-z> BC-HUGHES-FCC-BLOOM </SLUG>
<DATE> &LR; </DATE>
<NWORDS> 09-10 </NWORDS>
GM, GE PROJECTS LIKELY TO GET NEEDED AIRWAVES FROM FCC THURSDAY
(For use by New York Times News Service clients)
By Liza McDonald
c.1996 Bloomberg Business News
Washington, Sept. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Satellite systems to deliver
video services to Latin America planned by General Motors Corp.'s
Hughes Electronics Corp. and General Electric Co. are likely to get
the airwaves they need from federal regulators.
Plans for Hughes' Galaxy VIII(I) project and GE's GE Americom
project depend on the Federal Communications Commission's
allocation of a swath of spectrum that will let their earth
stations communicate with satellites in space.
Scheduled for a vote at the agency's meeting on Thursday, the
expected allocation will let the companies transmit video pictures,
phone calls, and other data from earth stations to orbiting
satellites, and then to customers in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central
America, and South America.
Both companies said they expect to use the systems primarily to
deliver digital video services to Latin American subscribers' own
dishes and to cable company receivers for distribution to cable
Mexico's Grupo Televisa SA, Multivision SA and Medcom SA all
have plans to deliver direct-to-home video satellite service to
Mexico within a year.
Televisa, Mexico's largest broadcaster, has formed an agreement
with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Brazil's Globo television
network, and Denver-based Tele-Communications Inc. to offer
direct-to-home service throughout Latin America.
Turner Broadcasting System Inc., for its part, agreed in July to
distribute Cable News Network and three other cable channels to
Latin American subscribers together with a group called Galaxy
Latin America, composed of GM's DirecTV, Venezuela's Cisneros Group
of Cos., Brazil's Televisao Abril, and Mexico's MVS Multivision.
Hughes' Galaxy VIII(I) plan would use one satellite, which the
company estimates will cost $230 million to build and launch.
Hughes expects Galaxy VIII(I) will bring in $30 million in revenue
in its first year and $58 million each year for the following 11
years, according to filings at the FCC.
GE Americom filed its cost and revenue assumptions
confidentially at the agency. Its plan calls for two satellites and
The plans are significant, said Scott Blake Harris, former FCC
international bureau chief, as ``yet another indication of the
health and strength of the U.S. satellite industry.''
The airwaves to be allocated are currently used by the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration for its tracking and data
relay system. The system, among other things, monitors the Space
Shuttle, helps to retrieve satellites, and relays communications
between ground stations and low-orbiting spacecraft including the
Shuttle. Those functions are likely to be slowly shifted to another
slice of spectrum, while the airwaves they've historically used are
turned over, in part, to satellite services such as the ones
planned by GE and GM. Other companies that support the allocation
and may use it include Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Loral Space and
Communications, International Private Satellite Partners/Orion
Atlantic Capital Corp., and Comsat Corp.
No opposing comments on the allocation were filed at the agency.
The spectrum shift comes at Hughes' initiative. The company
asked the FCC in March of 1995 to fix an imbalance in the uplink
and downlink airwaves available to fixed satellite services so that
the spectrum could be more effectively used.
``The downlink bands are not paired with any uplink bands,'' the
company wrote. Indeed, for 1000 megahertz allocated for satellite
downlinks, or transmissions from satellites to earth stations, the
agency had only set aside 500 megahertz for uplinks. That's meant
that half of the downlink capacity has been unusable, because no
corresponding uplink airwaves existed.
``It is . . . critical to the competitiveness of the United
States satellite industry, both at home and abroad, that the
commission allocate'' more airwaves for fixed satellite uplinks,
A similar plan was set by the International Telecommunications
Union at the World Administrative Radio Conference in 1992, and
adopted at the same meeting in 1995.
The plan hadn't yet been implemented in the U.S. because
interference with NASA's radar functions hadn't been worked out.
Also at Thursday's meeting, the FCC plans to formalize the
process public utility companies use to become certified as