Posts tagged Thaicom

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KCTV launches HD satellite broadcasts

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Korean Central Television (조선중앙방송), North Korea’s main national television station, has begun high-definition broadcasting.

The TV station has been available in standard definition via the Thaicom satellite for more than 15 years, and earlier in January a second high-definition feed of the TV station appeared.

The technical parameters of the new broadcast are as follows: 3696MHz, horizontally polarized, 4167 symbol rate, DVB-S2 format.

The new feed began by carrying KCTV’s regular standard definition broadcasts in a letterboxed format, so while the broadcast is technically in a high-definition format, the content isn’t … yet.

Recent coverage of major national events has been produced in widescreen format, which probably means it’s being filming with high-definition equipment and converted down to standard definition for the current broadcasts.

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The TV station got a major upgrade in 2012 when China Central Television provided the broadcaster with around $800,000 worth of digital broadcasting equipment. Some of it can be seen in this photo, which was carried by Chinese media at the time.

North Korea’s satellite broadcast via Thaicom 5 reaches across a broad part of the globe including all of Asia and much of Africa and Europe. In this image below, the signal is receivable in all areas enclosed within the large outline of this map. However, a large satellite dish or at least 2-meters or more in diameter is required.

The footprint of the Thaicom 5 satellite, which carries Korean Central Television

The footprint of the Thaicom 5 satellite, shown in light blue, which carries Korean Central Television

It’s not clear whether North Korea has plans for terrestrial broadcasting in high definition. The country began testing digital TV broadcasting at the end of 2012, according to a report, but state media hasn’t provided any updates on progress of the trials.

Recent models of tablet computer on sale in the country include analog TV tuners but no digital reception, although that might be due to cost rather than absence of broadcasts.

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High-quality recordings of DPRK radio

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Mark Fahey in Australia wrote to let me know about a project he’s working on that involves the capture of hours of North Korean radio via satellite. The broadcasts of the Korean Central Broadcasting Station domestic service via Thaicom are much higher quality than anything that’s generally available online, including my recordings from shortwave. Here’s what he says:

I am currently capturing hundreds of hours of TV & radio programming from North Korea as part of an academic project I am involved in. Yesterday I spent time digitally capturing the central domestic radio service as broadcast on 819kHz in Pyongyang. I thought some of your contacts and readers may be interested in some studio quality files of the DPRK’s domestic radio. The audio is exactly the same quality as what leaves the studio – complete with the music featuring some analog tape wow and flutter.

I have posted two files on my website. One is 1hr 15min long (suitable to burning on a CD) and the other is a mega 9hr 30min. Both were captured yesterday, December 5th 2010.

The 1:15 hr file starts @ 7:57 AM and features the news and then the musical breakfast program.

The 9:30 hr file starts @ 6:55 AM and runs all the way thru to 4:25 PM.

The files can be download the files here….

http://www.satdirectory.com/audio.html

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Korean Central Broadcasting Station

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The Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) (Korean: 조선중앙방송, Chinese: 朝鲜中央放送, Japanese: 朝鮮中央放送) is the main domestic radio network in the DPRK. It sits under the Central Broadcasting Committee of the DPRK (called the Radio and Television Committee of the DPRK until 2009).

KCBS broadcasts from 5am to 3am local time via a network of mediumwave and shortwave transmitters that cover the nation. The powerful transmissions can easily be heard in neighboring countries, including South Korea where some of its frequencies are jammed.

It is also relayed at certain times via the Voice of Korea, the DPRK’s international shortwave service.

A central program is broadcast from Pyongyang on most transmitters through the entire broadcast day, but some are reported to carry regional programming between 2pm and 3pm.

All programming is in Korean and includes music, talk and news. Main news bulletins are broadcast at 6am, 7am, 10am, midday, 3pm, 5pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10pm.

Mediumwave Transmitters

The main mediumwave transmitters are:

  • 702kHz, Chongjin (50kW)
  • 720kHz, Wiwon (500kW)
  • 765kHz, Hyesan (50kW)
  • 810kHz, Kaesong (50kW)
  • 819kHz, Pyongyang (500kW)
  • 873kHz, Sinuiji (250kW)
  • 882kHz, Wonsan (250kW)
  • 927kHz, Hwangju (50kW)
  • 999kHz, Hamhung (250kW)
  • 1080kHz, Haeju (1500kW)
  • 1368kHz, Pyongyang (2kW)

The powerful Haeju transmitter puts out a signal that easily reaches into South Korea, China and Japan during the nighttime. The South Korean government jams most of the North Korean mediumwave programming, but the jamming signal is weaker than that coming from North Korea so doesn’t affect listening outside of South Korea.

If you’re in the region, the 500kW (kilowatt) and 250kW transmitters are also worth listening out for during the nighttime. They stronger channels can be heard on most mediumwave radios and car radios.

Shortwave Transmitters

The KCBS shortwave frequencies are:

  • 2350kHz, Sariwon
  • 2850kHz, Pyongyang
  • 3220kHz, Hamhung
  • 3350kHz, Pyongsong
  • 3920kHz, Hyesan
  • 3960kHz, Kanggye
  • 3970kHz, Wonsan
  • 3980kHz, Chongjin
  • 6100kHz, Kanggye (250kW)
  • 9665kHz, Pyongyang
  • 11680kHz, Kanggye

Frequencies in italics have not been monitored or reported recently and may be off the air.

The shortwave channels don’t appear to be jammed by South Korea and the 2850kHz signal from Pyongyang can be received in Seoul quite clearly all day. The power of the various transmitters varies so some are easy to hear while others present more of a challenge. In Tokyo, the 2850kHz and 6100kHz are easy to hear in the evening. The 6100kHz channel carries Voice of Korea overseas programming between 3:30pm and 10:30pm.

FM Transmitters

KCBS is also reported to broadcast on 93.8 FM in Pyongyang and 102.3 FM in Kaesong.

Satellite Relay

KCBS is reported to be carried alongside Korean Central Television on the Thaicom-5 satellite.

Voice of Korea relay transmissions

The station is relayed via Voice of Korea at the following times and on the following frequencies:

  • 2am to 2:50am (1700 to 1750 GMT) to East Asia on 3560kHz; to Europe on 7570kHz and 12015kHz; to North America on 11710kHz
  • 5am to 5:50am (2000 to 2050 GMT) to East Asia on 4405kHz; to 7210kHz, 9325kHz, 9975kHz, 11535kHz and 11910kHz
  • 8am to 8:50am (2300 to 2350 GMT) to East Aisa on 3560kHz, 7235kHz, 7570kHz, 9345kHz, 9975kHz, 11535kHz and 12015kHz
  • 6pm to 6:50pm (0900 to 0950 GMT) to East Asia on 3560kHz, 7220kHz and 9345kHz
  • 9pm to 9:50pm (1200 to 1250 GMT) to Latin America on 6285kHz and 9335kHz; to Southeast Asia on 6185kHz and 9850kHz
  • 11pm to 11:50pm (1400 to 1450 GMT) to Southeast Asia on 6185kHz and 9850kHz

On-Air

Here’s a clip of the sign-on at 5am each morning. The tuning signal plays twice then a male voice announces the name of the station, “Chosŏn Chungang Pangsong imnida,” then two more rounds of the interval signal and the station name from a female voice.

Then follows the time signal and the national anthem.

The Voice of Korea external service uses the same format, albeit with announcements in different languages.

History

The station officially inaugurated programming on October 14, 1945, with a live broadcast of the victory speech of Kim Il Sung when he returned to Pyongyang at the end of World War II, according to a KCNA report from 2005. The same reported noted the station’s duty is to broadcast “the voices of the Workers’ Party of Korea at home and abroad.”

It’s origins can be traced back to 1936 and radio station JBBK. Operated by the occupying Japanese forces, JBBK broadcast a first and second program as part of Japan’s radio network that covered the Korean peninsula from Seoul. Program one broadcast on 820kHz and program two on 1090kHz. The start dates are given as either April 10/11th or November 15th depending on the source.

The 820kHz channel is still in use in Pyongyang today, albeit on 819kHz. The frequency was slightly shifted when Asia mediumwave broadcasting moved from 10kHz to 9kHz spacing between channels.

Sources: Author’s monitoring, World Radio TV Handbook, Asia Broadcasting Institute, Lyngsat and Oka Lab.

KCTV moving on Thaicom-5

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Korean Central Television (KCTV) is moving transponders on the Thaicom-5 satellite at the end of this month.

Anyone receiving the channel via satellite will have to retune to continue watching. It’s moving from the current transponder 3G at 3504MHz H to transponder 7G at 3695MHz H.

KCTV has been on its current transponder since at least 2007, which is shortly after Thaicom-5 was launched. The new transponder has a similar footprint to the old one, so the reception area and equipment needed shouldn’t change.

The station has been broadcasting on the new channel since July 1 and will end transmission on the old channel on Oct. 31.

Thaicom-5’s Global beam covers all of Asia, the Middle East and much of Europe although the C-band signal is much weaker than conventional direct-to-home satellite services. In most areas a dish of at least 1.8 meters is required for reception with a larger 3-meter dish being the recommended size.

Here’s the retuning information slide from KCTV’s evening news on Oct. 14:

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