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The Sydney Morning Herald

Galaxy of stars but light on hard info

Date: 06/03/1995
Words: 382
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Page: 8
Are you itching to pay for pay TV? Curious, perhaps, to know how many viewers had signed on by the time Australia's first 24-hour movie channels opened on Friday with Sylvester Stallone at the end of his rope in the Rockies? Don't ask the supplier, Galaxy. You won't get a dicky-bird out of them. Not a peep.

Not yet, anyway.

Guesswork offers something akin to those packets of breakfast cereal on the cash cow channels. Not too many, not too few, but just right for starters.

One source of information, a visitor to the Galaxy offices in the Australis complex in Pyrmont, reports seeing a wall chart indicating installations ($299 connection, $49.95 a month, bonus offers for early takers, no positive promise of West Indies cricket) with a graph line running above marked expectations for Sydney and Melbourne running slightly below.

This may be misleading. The chart appeared to lack any sense of scale, putting accurate assessment out of bounds.

Full-page ads everywhere brought a rush of inquiries, but Galaxy always offered modest expectations of early sales. As the full 10-channel service is not yet up and running, subscribers still rank in the pioneer class.

In addition to its sports network, already operating, Galaxy trebled the choice on Friday when Showtime, a premium movie channel, and Encore, a movie favourites channel, got under way. The first batch of 31 Showtime movies include the Sly Stallone romp, Cliffhanger, A Few Good Men, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Scent of a Woman, Indecent Proposal, Far and Away and Lorenzo's Oil.

Encore has 48 titles in its first month's list, including The Birds, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Beverly Hills Cop, The Running Man, Moscow on the Hudson and the director's cut of Lawrence of Arabia.

Next on pay will be TV1, an entertainment channel with such TV treats as Taxi, All in the Family, I Love Lucy, Laverne and Shirley, The Honeymooners, Sergeant Bilko and Miami Vice.

Meanwhile, the program-rich supplier XYZ Entertainment, pay TV's quiet achiever, is limbering up with four channels for the A Licence holder. These are intended for distribution as part of the Galaxy package.

A children's channel is ready to go, while XYZ yesterday announced that it had signed Ian Kiernan, chairman of Clean Up Australia, and Mimi Macpherson, younger sister of Elle Macpherson, as hosts for its documentary channel, Quest.

Quest manager, Deborah Stewart, is a New York born documentary maker and journalist who has worked with The 7.30 Report, 60 Minutes and the Fox Network in the US.

Ms Stewart says the 24-hour Quest service will be educational, entertaining and wide-ranging in its scope.

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