1worldspace

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1worldspace Inc.
Industry Broadcasting – Radio
Founded 1990
Headquarters Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.
Key people Noah A. Samara, Chairman & CEO
Products Satellite Radio
Revenue Increase$13.78 Million US$ (2007)
Net income Decrease-$169.51 Million US$ (2007)
Employees 40 (2009)

1worldspace, formerly known as 'WorldSpace', is an almost but not yet completely defunct satellite radio network that in its heyday provided service to over 170,000 subscribers in eastern and southern Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia with 96% coming from India. Timbre Media along with Saregama India plan to relaunch the company.[1]

The final fate of the original Worldspace satellite radio service still remains a mystery. Despite the company's very public insolvency and the liquidation of all of its various commercial entities in 2008-2009, the company's Afristar and Asiastar satellites remain in geostationary orbit. Currently, the channels WRN 1 and WRN 2 can be received on Afristar with audio.[2] On AsiaStar, there are 2 channels broadcasting (the old Maestro channel and Sai Global Harmony which is an Indian religious channel). The precise commercial basis on which the Afristar and Asiastar satellites currently continue to be maintained in working satellite orbit by Intelsat is not known at the present time.

It was profitable in India, with 450,000 subscribers.[3]

Overview[edit]

The company headquarters were located in Silver Spring, MD and additional studios were located in Washington, DC, Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Nairobi. Before filing for bankruptcy in October 2008, 1worldspace employed two satellites and broadcast 62 channels – 38 of which were content provided by international, national and regional third parties and 24 1worldspace-branded stations produced by or for 1worldspace.[4] Most of the channels used to be available only through a subscription plan.

1worldspace claimed to be the only company with rights to the world's globally allocated spectrum for digital satellite radio.[citation needed] However, it never made use of its license to broadcast to the Americas or the Caribbean. The company gained attention around 2000 because of its willingness to invest in impoverished areas and from 2006 to the present due to its financial difficulties and bankruptcy proceedings.

The company filed for bankruptcy in October 2008. For a while Liberty Media sought to buy the assets, but in June 2010, a company called Yazmi USA owned by former WorldSpace founder, chairman, and CEO Noah Samara purchased the remains for US$5.5M.[5]

European operations were liquidated in the spring of 2009.

On December 25, 2009, the company issued notices to all of its subscribers in India that WorldSpace service in India would officially be terminated from December 31, 2009, with no refunds given to its subscribers, on account of bankruptcy.[6]

The company was known as "WorldSpace" until July 2008.

On July 18, 2011, Forbes India reported that Timbre Media was re-launching WorldSpace Radio in association with Sa Re Ga Ma in September 2011, although it would only be streamed through mobile phones, the Internet and direct-to-home television networks. Reportedly, old WorldSpace receivers would no longer work. The re-launch would start with 40 stations and eventually have as many as 120 stations, including sub-categories such as music for cardio-workouts.[1]

Content[edit]

1worldspace assembled a combination of news, sports, music, brand name content and educational programming which it delivered to its market in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The 62 channels (38 of which were third-party content and 24 of which were produced by or for 1worldspace) represented popular international music formats including contemporary hits, country, classic rock and jazz[4] with content specific to the local geographic region. Sports coverage included content from Fox Sports Radio and talkSPORT in addition to regional coverage. 1worldspace also broadcast news from well-renowned sources such as BBC, CNBC, CNN, NPR, RFI, and WRN.[7] Additional content included channels that highlighted poetry and literature, comedy, talk shows, and inspirational and religious programming.[8][9]

1worldspace's program directors and announcers operated from studios in Washington, DC, Bangalore, and Nairobi, where 18 original music and lifestyle channels were created for distribution. Four of these stations were previously available in the United States on the XM Satellite Radio network. This arrangement ended in 2008.

The 1worldspace System[edit]

The 1worldspace system had three major components: the space segment, the ground segment, and the user segment. The space segment referred to the company-owned satellites that broadcast the signals over a large percentage of the eastern hemisphere. The ground segment referred to the operating and broadcasting centers. The user segment referred to the user-owned devices in which the signal was received. In addition, the company planned to implement terrestrial repeater networks in order to facilitate access to new markets in Europe and the Middle-East.

The 1worldspace system was built with companies including Alcatel Space (now Thales Alenia Space), EADS Astrium and Arianespace (France), SED (Canada), GSI[disambiguation needed] (USA), Fraunhofer Institute (Germany), ST Microelectronics (Italy), Micronas (Germany) and others.[10]

Space segment[edit]

1worldspace operated two satellites: AfriStar and AsiaStar. Making it available in Asia, Africa, Middle East, and parts of Europe.

Ground segment[edit]

The regional operations centers for the satellites were located in Silver Spring, Maryland for AfriStar and Melbourne, Australia for AsiaStar.[citation needed] These centers managed the performance and status of the satellites by controlling them and monitoring there. The system architecture is identical for each region.

Telemetry, command and ranging (TCR) stations consisted of an X-Band uplink command and control system and an L-Band telemetry monitoring system. A backup mode was also provided using an S Band link from Bangalore, India. Each satellite had two TCR stations with sufficient geographic distance between them so that if natural disasters or any unforeseen events were to make one inoperable, a back-up station would be available. The TCR stations for AfriStar were located in Bangalore, India and Port Louis, Mauritius, and the ones for AsiaStar in Melbourne, Australia and Port Louis, Mauritius.

In addition to the TCR stations, a communications system monitoring station (CSM) was associated with each satellite to monitor continuously the quality of the downlink services. The CSM facilities were located in Libreville, Gabon for AfriStar and Melbourne, Australia for AsiaStar.[10]

User segment[edit]

Users purchased receivers compatible with the L-Band frequency in order to access the system. The radio receiver processed, decoded and descrambled the signals to allow users to receive programming content. The company’s broadcast frequency and satellites required a special receiver design incorporating either a small patch antenna measuring approximately 6 to 8 cm (2.4 to 3.2 inches) which folded neatly into the receiver unit or a similarly sized omni-directional antenna mounted on the car rooftop. Each receiver was individually addressable via a unique identifier that could be used to unlock specially coded audio or multimedia signals. This capability provided the flexibility to deliver free, subscription and/or premium services to consumers.

The currently available receivers were manually coded for subscription authorization. A password, valid for varying periods of time depending upon the length of the subscription purchased and paid for, is provided to a subscriber and entered into the receiver. Passwords were re-validated on a quarterly basis. Upon subscription renewal, a new passcode was provided and similarly entered into the receiver. As new receiver products were introduced, there were plans to provide over-the-air activation of subscriptions.[10]

The radio sets, or receivers, which could pick up 1worldspace signals were manufactured by South Korea's AMI, India's BPL and China’s Tongshi, among other corporations.[11] Discontinued models were manufactured by JVC, Sanyo, Hitachi, and Panasonic. The radios consisted of a satellite receiver plus an antenna that has to be placed in clear view of the relevant satellite, and properly oriented to the user's geographic azimuth and elevation. A new receiver manufactured by Delphi using open standard ETSI Satellite Digital Radio technology would have been used in Europe if the company had entered the car satellite radio receiver marketplace. [12]

Controversies[edit]

Stock value[edit]

On August 4, 2005, WorldSpace offered its IPO on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange. It closed at the end of the first day of trading at $22.36 a share. Just four months after its IPO, WorldSpace was trading at $12.28; after seven months, $11.62; and after one year a share of WorldSpace was valued at $2.16. Four days after the IPO The Wall Street Journal published “WorldSpace Risk: Disputed Terror Ties Follow Key Backers.”[13] The reference alludes to WorldSpace Corporation’s financial underwriters among the Saudi royal family, which reportedly had invested more than $2.5 billion in the start-up stages. The following day, August 9, online investment news site The Motley Fool ran the first of several articles ("Terrorist In Your Portfolio?") critical of WorldSpace’s corporate practices and out-of-this-world claims. In "A Stellar Way to Lose Money," after looking at the dismal performance after five years to establish an audience for AsiaStar broadcasting in India, the article concludes: “If you enjoy companies that pay management at a rate of 2.5 times your company's entire revenue, burn cash like crazy, but have a story that sounds good until you listen closely, this may be the stock for you. Knock yourself out. If you're looking for a good investment, look elsewhere.”[14] In 2007, Seth Jayson, writing for the Motley Fool, stated that WorldSpace was "one of the most rancid stocks I've ever seen".[15] On October 17, 2008 the stock hit a new low of $.18.

Debt[edit]

1worldspace finally became insolvent in 2009/10 after a prolonged series of financial crises. In the first quarter of 2008 the company lost a net total of 2676 subscribers and reported that it would scale back its marketing activities around the world.[16] WorldSpace recorded a $36.0 million net loss in the second quarter of 2008, as compared to a net loss of $51.2 million in the second quarter of 2007.[17] Throughout 2008 and 2009 company was in deep debt and was reported to owe its creditors over $50 million, due to be paid by various repeatedly postponed deadlines.[18]

Bankruptcy[edit]

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, October 17, 2008.[19] The reorganization includes a 90-day $13 million debtor-in-possession financing approach, with the hopes of obtaining added funds to repay senior secured notes and convertible notes. The company's wholly owned India affiliate was not covered by the bankruptcy filing.[20]

High-profile resignations[edit]

In August 2008, two of the top executives of 1worldspace announced their resignations. Greg Armstrong, co-COO, left effective on August 1 and Alexander Brown, co-COO, has given notice of his intention to leave.[21]

Promotional information[edit]

WorldSpace audio advertisements in 2006 highlighted the company's ability to provide communication and data-transmission services to remote areas of the world, particularly in a disaster-relief context. The promotions also mentioned WorldSpace's facilitation of long-distance educational projects in Africa.[citation needed] The ads, broadcast on Washington D.C. radio stations, appeared aimed at government procurement officials and possibly NGOs.

WorldSpace named noted Indian composer A.R. Rahman as its brand ambassador in India where 90% of its customers are located, and unveiled an integrated marketing communication campaign across print and visual media featuring an exclusive signature tune composed by Mr. Rahman.[citation needed]

In a last-ditch but ultimately completely unsuccessful effort to avoid commercial insolvency in July 2008, WorldSpace changed its brand and corporate identity to 1worldspace.[22]

Philanthropy[edit]

WorldSpace Foundation was a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization created in 1997 with the aim of improving literacy in Africa, and providing content through satellite to smaller community radio stations in the continent.[23] WorldSpace Foundation has changed its name to First Voice International.

First Voice International was a non-profit organization that tried to ensure that people living in poverty and remote places get the information they need to improve their lives, have the means to communicate their needs and wants, are able to share what they know with others – in their own voice. The organization attempted to reach the most people for the least cost by combining satellite and other technologies. By bypassing the isolating effects of illiteracy and remoteness, the organization routinely delivers information to people in areas lacking electricity, telephone or Internet service.[24]

Historic Plans For Service Development[edit]

Since uninterrupted line of sight reception may be difficult in the urban areas, a need was identified to install terrestrial repeating transmitters to rebroadcast the satellite signals in the largest metropolitan areas of intended mobile DARS markets. The company had been licensed to build networks of terrestrial repeaters in Italy, Switzerland and Germany. With this addition, the system could have provided more reliable broadcast services to receivers in automobiles.[10] 1worldspace had planned to start providing mobile radio and data services in Italy using a combination of satellite and terrestrial broadcasts in late 2009.[25] It had signed an agreement with Fiat, an Italian automobile manufacturer, to make radios capable of receiving the signals available to car owners.[26] Fiat plans to make such radios available as a bookable option made prior to purchasing a car.[27] If the service had been launched and had been a commercial success in Italy, it was then planned to make similar services available in Germany and Switzerland. 1worldspace would have used ETSI Satellite Digital Radio (SDR) open standard in the new European coverage beam.[28] The receivers for the new markets would have been manufactured by Delphi and would have delivered a gap-free coverage to vehicles similar to that of Sirius XM Radio vehicular mobile service.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b NS Ramnath (Jul 19, 2011). "WorldSpace radio is back". Forbes India. Retrieved October 19, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Wer hört noch Worldspace? - Radioforum". Mysnip.de. Retrieved 2012-07-28. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b http://www.1worldspace.com/corporate/
  5. ^ "FMQB In Brief". FMQB. 28 June 2010. Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "www.worldspace.com". worldspace.com. January 27, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  7. ^ http://www.1worldspace.com/channel_guide/news/
  8. ^ http://www.1worldspace.com/channel_guide/talk_and_entertainment/
  9. ^ http://www.1worldspace.com/channel_guide/inspirational/
  10. ^ a b c d "Form 10-K". Sec.gov. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  11. ^ "www.worldspace.com". worldspace.com. January 27, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  12. ^ "investor.worldspace.com". investor.worldspace.com. January 27, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  13. ^ Sender, Henny (August 8, 2005). "WorldSpace Risk: Disputed Terror Ties Follow Key Backers". The Wall Street Journal. 
  14. ^ Jayson, Seth (September 9, 2005). "A Stellar Way to Lose Money". Fool.com. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  15. ^ Jayson, Seth (July 20, 2011). "The Buzzards at WorldSpace (WRSPQ.PK)". Fool.com. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  16. ^ "WorldSpace ‘concerned’ at lack of cash". Rapid TV News. June 28, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-06-28. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  17. ^ http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/1worldspace-reports-second-quarter-2008/story.aspx?guid=%7BE9C8D9DE-19A5-4496-8673-19C4E38F34AD%7D&dist=hppr Archived June 30, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ What assets does Worldspace now own? | News | Rapid TV News
  19. ^ "WorldSpace, Inc. Voluntarily Files for Bankruptcy Protection". Bloomberg. October 17, 2008. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  20. ^ Aviation Week & Space Technology Vol. 169 No. Oct 16, 27. 2008, "WorldSpace Bankruptcy", p. 19.
  21. ^ Chris Forrester (August 10, 2008). "Two Worldspace top execs bail out". RapidTVNews. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  22. ^ Adrian Bridgwater (July 22, 2008). "WORLDSPACE, with the Creative Support of PIR Marketing, Unveils "1worldspace" as New Corporate Identity and Brand and Launches Re-Designed Company Website". Web 2.0 Journal. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  23. ^ "WorldSpace Foundation : MediaRights Organizations Database". Mediarights.org. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  24. ^ "First Voice Africa". Firstvoiceint.org. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  25. ^ "WorldSpace Europe". Archived from the original on June 6, 2009. 
  26. ^ [2] Archived June 30, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Fiat, Worldspace in satellite radio deal". Forbes. Archived from the original on June 28, 2009. 
  28. ^ http://www.1worldspace.com/press/01_04_2006.html

External links[edit]