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"Commercial viability of AUSSAT in doubt"



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P A R L I A M E N T O F A U S T R A L I A

H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S

HON. JOHN MOORE, M.P. FEDERAL MEMBER FOR RYAN

SUITE 3. MANCHESTER UNITY CENTRE 621 CORONATION DRIVE (P.O. BOX 522) TOOWONG. OLD 4066 TEL. 371 0644. 371 0894

13th. May,1985

PRESS STATEMENT, Hon. John Moore ,Shadow Minister for Communications,

. "COMMERCIAL VIABILITY OF AUSSAT IN DOUBT." .

The viability of the AUSSAT system as a commercial venture has

been thrown into doubt by threats by the major commercial

television networks that they will not go ahead with the lease of

three 30W transponders unless they are permitted to supply the

remote-area service by incidental reception. This would mean; an annual revenue loss o-f some $9 million -from 19S6-7, assuming that no other buyers can be -found -for the 30W transponders on the

third satellite. (Up to now it has been assumed that the

networks would take three o-f the -four high-power transponders on the second satellite, while RCTS would take all -four on the

third; however, i-f the networks withdrew, it is reasonable to assume that RCTS would move -forward in the queue and take the

transponders on the second satellite.) The networks also planned to lease an additional three 12W transponders -for program assembly, but it is not clear whether they also intend to cancel

this lease. I-f they did, it would mean a -further revenu.e loss o-f $5-ό million until the capacity was reallocated.

■ The precise impact o-f this move is hard to assess, since

. Aussat regards all arrangements -for the lease o-f satellite capacity as matters o-f commercial con-fidence. At the end o-f 19S4, the General Manager- announced that all transponders on the ■first two satellites had already been sold, but a more recent

statement suggests that at least some o-f these sales were -firm commitments rather than actual contracts. Some o-f these commitments rnay now be in doubt with the announcement by Telecom o-f plans -for a new high-technology opt i cal--f ibre network that will provide a more cost-effective alternative to the satellite

-for business users whose operations are con-fined to the east-coast capital cities. It is true that -from the beginning o-f 1984

Aussat has had sufficient confidence in the demand for capacity to bring forward the launch of the third satellite to 1936, but

this must be seen in the light of the p r o bability that the system

will not break even until all three satellites are in revenue

service.

It is well within the bounds of p o ssibility that alternative

uses will be found for the third set of 30W t r a n s p o n d e r s . It is

possible to use them for the same purposes as 12W t r a n s p o n d e r s ,

and there may even be some advantage in doing so for

communications with northern Australia, where it is known that heavy rainstorms are likely to cause severe attenuation of signals from the 12W transponders. Another possibility that has been mentioned by the Minister is that they may be leased by

broadcasters in the Pacific and Mew Zealand (where the government is in the process of issuing the first commercial television

licences). This would require m o d i f i c a t i o n s to the antennas on the third satellite, which would probably delay its launch. However, there is no absolute necessity to launch the third

satellite on the date currently scheduled, since the launch