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News in Brief

DATA from the British Video Association showed an 8% drop in retail video sales to 16.2 million units in June, compared with June 2004. The fall was mirrored in the half-year figures, which showed a 3.8% decline to 98 million units compared with the first half of 2004. Rentals, however, showed some positive signs – up 11% in June to 13.9 million turns and up 6% to 81.1 million for the year to date, according to the BVA.

US PRODUCER/distributor Lions Gate Entertainment has announced a major push into TV-DVD – the fastest-growing DVD-Video genre. The company claims a 7% market share in the TV-DVD category, largely because of its series of Saturday Night Live DVDs, which sold nearly 4.5 million units in 2004. Lions gate’s The Punisher movie earned $34 million in theatrical release and sold 4 million DVDs. The horror movie Saw, a home video genre in which the company claims a 20% market share, earned $55 million at the boxoffice sold 4.5 million DVDs.

AT THE 7TH Data Storage Expo & Conference in Tokyo, TDK demonstrated its four-layer Blu-Ray Recordable disc (BD-R), capable of holding up to 100GB of content. The disc features the DURABIS 2 hard-coating technology from TDK, in order to physically protect a Blu-Ray disc's surface from scratches, dust and other factors that could cause damage. The Blu-ray Disc Assosiacion has not yet started the standardization procedures for this kind of media, and according to TDK, the four-layer BD-R disc is currently a research level prototype. TDK held a BD-R recording test, using a Pioneer BD-R/RE prototype recorder. The TDK disc was recorded at 2x, which translates to 72Mbps transfer rate.

A UNANIMOUS US Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Internet file-trading networks like Grokster and Morpheus can be held liable when their users copy music, movies and other protected works without permission. In a decision hailed by the recording and movie industries, the justices set aside a US appeals court ruling that the peer-to-peer networks cannot be held liable for copyright infringement because the networks can be used for legitimate purposes as well. Online networks like Grokster and Morpheus allow millions of computer users to copy music and movies for free from each others' hard drives. Entertainment firms, led by studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, sued to hold the networks accountable for the trading in copyrighted files.

THE TWO rival blue-laser optical storage formats, Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD, will not be coming together, Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi admitted last week. Talks between the BD-backing Sony and HD-DVD cheerleader Toshiba have ended, he said, in an interview with Nikkei Electronics.

TAIWAN accounts for 75% of the global output of DVD+R/-R discs and 60% for DVD+RW/-RW discs, according to Ritek vice president Shyh-yeu Wang. In the first quarter of this year, Ritek was the world’s top producer of DVD+R discs, with a 26% share of the global market, and DVD+RW discs, with a 34% share of the market, Wang added.

UK ONLINE DVD rental firm Video Island has announced partnerships with video-to-mobile provider Mobix Interactive and film portal Ifilm to deliver movie trailers and short films to mobile phones and the PCs. Video Island will initially integrate both mobile phone and PC services into its own consumer brand, will now offer exclusive movie ring-tones from Mobix Interactive, as well as movie trailers, clips, short films and viral videos from Ifilm.

MICROSOFT has set itself a target of 10 million sales of its next generation games console Xbox 360 within 12 to 16 months of launch, according to Xbox marketing boss Peter Moore at a video games conference in London. The 360, due to go on sale before Christmas in the US, Europe, and Japan, will have an estimated four month window in the games market over arch-rival Sony, whose PlayStation 3 is due out in spring 2006, and Nintendo's Revolution later next year. The launch reverses the previous Xbox launch, which was a a year behind Sony's PlayStation 2.

BLOCKBUSTER in the UK has teamed up with American Airlines to offer members an opportunity to buy two return flights to the US for the price of one. The promotion will run from the June 21 until the July 18 in all Blockbuster stores across Great Britain. Members who spend £10 or more on a single retail transaction in-store will be given a voucher enabling them to redeem two return flights for the price of one to either New York or Los Angeles. Members who take up the offer will need to book their flights by the August 16 and will be able to travel from the 1st November 2005 to the 6th April 2006, excluding December 15 to January 6.

RECORDABLE DVD players and flatscreen TVs are getting the cut-price treatment at ASDA as the No.2 supermarket chain competes for increased sales in the electrical goods market. Flatscreen TVs will be on sale for less than £230, and recordable DVD player for less than £100. Shoppers can already pick up standard DVD players at Asda for less than £25, with the company now selling a quarter of the UK’s DVD players.