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1worldspace Inc.
Type Public NASDAQWRSP
Founded 1990
Headquarters Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.
Key people Noah A. Samara, Chairman & CEO
Industry Broadcasting - Radio
Products Satellite Radio
Revenue $13.78 Million USD (2007)
Net income -$169.51 Million USD (2007)
Employees 40 (2009)
Website www.1worldspace.com

1worldspace (NASDAQWRSP) is a satellite radio network that provides service to over 170,000 subscribers in eastern and southern Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia with 96% coming from India[1].

Contents

Overview

The company headquarters is located in Silver Spring, MD and additional studios are located in Washington, DC, Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Nairobi. Before filing for bankruptcy, 1worldspace employed two satellites and broadcasts 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[2]. 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, a plan by founder, chairman and CEO Noah Samara won the auction to take over the assets. As promised money was not raised, the plan was ditched and Liberty Media is now touted to take over the company

European operations were liquidated in the spring of 2009

As on Dec 25th 2009, the company has issued notices to all its subscribers in India that The Worldspace service in India will officially be terminated from Dec 31st 2009, with no refunds given to its subscribers, on account of Bankruptcy.[3]

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

Content

1worldspace has assembled a combination of news, sports, music, brand name content and educational programming which it delivers to its market in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The 62 channels (38 of which are third-party content and 24 of which are produced by or for 1worldspace) represent popular international music formats including contemporary hits, country, classic rock and jazz[2] with content specific to the local geographic region. Sports coverage includes content from Fox Sports and talkSPORT in addition to regional coverage. 1worldspace also broadcasts news from well-renowned sources such as BBC, CNBC, CNN, NPR,RFI, and WRN.[4] Additional content includes channels that highlight poetry and literature, comedy, talk shows, and inspirational and religious programming.[5][6]

1worldspace's program directors and radio jockeys operate from studios in Washington, DC, Bangalore, and Nairobi, where 18 original music and lifestyle channels are 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

The 1worldspace system comprises three major components: the space segment, the ground segment, and the user segment. The space segment refers to the company-owned satellites that broadcast the signals over a large percentage of the eastern hemisphere. The ground segment refers to the operating and broadcasting centers. The user segment refers to the user-owned devices in which the signal is received. In addition, the company plans 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 (USA), Fraunhofer Institute (Germany), ST Microelectronics (Italy), Micronas (Germany) and others.[7]

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Space segment

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

Ground segment

The regional operations centers for the satellites are located in Silver Spring, Maryland for AfriStar and Melbourne, Australia for AsiaStar.[citation needed] These centers manage 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 consist of an X-Band uplink command and control system and an L-Band telemetry monitoring system. A backup mode has also been provided using an S Band link from Bangalore, India. Each satellite has 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 will be available. The TCR stations for AfriStar are 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) is associated with each satellite to monitor continuously the quality of the downlink services. The CSM facilities are located in Libreville, Gabon for AfriStar and Melbourne, Australia for AsiaStar.[7]

User segment

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

The currently available receivers are 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. Currently passwords are re-validated on a quarterly basis. Upon subscription renewal, a new passcode is provided and similarly entered into the receiver. As new receiver products are introduced, there are plans to provide over-the-air activation of subscriptions.[7]

The radio sets, or receivers, which can pick up 1worldspace signals are manufactured by South Korea's AMI, India's BPL and China’s Tongshi, among other corporations.[8] Discontinued models were manufactured by JVC, Sanyo, Hitachi, and Panasonic. The radios consist of a satellite receiver plus an antenna that has to be placed in clear view of the relevant satellite, and properly orientated to the user's geographic azimuth and elevation. A new receiver manufactured by Delphi using open standard ETSI Satellite Digital Radio technology will be used in Europe if and when the company enters the market.[9]

Controversies

Stock value

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.”[10] 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.” [11] In 2007, Seth Jayson, writing for the Motley Fool, stated that WorldSpace was "one of the most rancid stocks I've ever seen". [12] On October 17, 2008 the stock hit a new low of $.18.

Debt

1worldspace is currently in a financial crisis. 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. [13] WorldSpace recorded a $36.0 million net loss in the second quarter of 2008, up from a net loss of $51.2 million in the second quarter of 2007. [14] Throughout the past year the company has been in deep debt and currently owes its creditors over $50 million, due to be paid in September. [15]

Bankruptcy

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, October 17, 2008.[16] 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 is not covered by the bankruptcy filing.[17]

High-profile resignations

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. [18]

Promotional information

WorldSpace audio advertisements in 2006 have 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 mention WorldSpace's facilitation of long-distance educational projects in Africa.[citation needed] The ads, broadcast on Washington D.C. radio stations, appear 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 July 2008, WorldSpace changed its brand and corporate identity to 1worldspace.[19]

Philanthropy

WorldSpace Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization created in 1997 with the aim of improving literacy in Africa, and is providing content through satellite to smaller community radio stations in the continent.[20] WorldSpace Foundation has changed its name to First Voice International.

First Voice International is a non-profit organization that tries 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 attempts 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.[21]

Plans

Since uninterrupted line of sight reception may be difficult in the urban areas, there is a need to install terrestrial repeating transmitters to rebroadcast the satellite signals in the largest metropolitan areas of intended mobile DARS markets. The company has been licensed to build networks of terrestrial repeaters in Italy, Switzerland and Germany. With this addition, the system can provide more reliable broadcast services to receivers in automobiles.[7] 1worldspace plans to start providing mobile radio and data services in Italy using a combination of satellite and terrestrial broadcasts in late 2009.[22] It has signed an agreement with Fiat, an Italian automobile manufacturer, to make radios capable of receiving the signals available to car owners.[23] Fiat plans to make such radios available as a bookable option made prior to purchasing a car.[24] If the service is a success in Italy, it's planned to make similar services available in Germany and Switzerland. 1worldspace will use ETSI Satellite Digital Radio (SDR) open standard in the new European coverage beam.[25] The receivers for the new markets will be manufactured by Delphi and will deliver a gap-free coverage to vehicles similar to that of Sirius XM Radio vehicular mobile service.

References

  1. ^ http://www.rwonline.com/pages/s.0100/t.15094.html
  2. ^ a b http://www.1worldspace.com/corporate/
  3. ^ http://www.worldspace.com/index_wsmsg.html
  4. ^ http://www.1worldspace.com/channel_guide/news/
  5. ^ http://www.1worldspace.com/channel_guide/talk_and_entertainment/
  6. ^ http://www.1worldspace.com/channel_guide/inspirational/
  7. ^ a b c d http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1315054/000119312508071173/d10k.htm
  8. ^ http://www.worldspace.com/howitworks/receivers/receiverfaq/index.html
  9. ^ http://investor.worldspace.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=189783&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1119610&highlight=
  10. ^ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB112346590451307232.html
  11. ^ http://fool.com/news/mft/2005/mft05090914.htm
  12. ^ http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2007/03/28/the-buzzards-at-worldspace.aspx
  13. ^ http://rapidtvnews.com/index.php/200805181172/worldspace-concerned-at-lack-of-cash.html
  14. ^ http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/1worldspace-reports-second-quarter-2008/story.aspx?guid=%7BE9C8D9DE-19A5-4496-8673-19C4E38F34AD%7D&dist=hppr
  15. ^ http://rapidtvnews.com/index.php/200807281780/what-assets-does-worldspace-now-own.html
  16. ^ http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/081017/20081017005761.html?.v=1 WorldSpace, Inc. Voluntarily Files for Bankruptcy Protection
  17. ^ Aviation Week & Space Technology Vol. 169 No. 16, 27 Oct. 2008, "WorldSpace Bankruptcy", p. 19
  18. ^ http://rapidtvnews.com/index.php/200808101867/two-worldspace-top-execs-bail-out.html
  19. ^ http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/080722/20080722006384.html?.v=1
  20. ^ http://www.mediarights.org/organization/worldspace_foundation
  21. ^ http://www.firstvoiceint.org/
  22. ^ http://www.worldspace-europe.com/en/overview.php
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ http://www.forbes.com/markets/feeds/afx/2007/07/19/afx3929656.html
  25. ^ http://www.1worldspace.com/press/01_04_2006.html

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