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News in Brief

All-time movie classic Gone With The Wind has been given an extensive facelift, including digitally remastered video and a new surround soundtrack, for re-release on DVD later this year. The four-disc collector's edition of the film, winner of 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture, will come complete with two discs containing over five hours of new features. First released in 1939, the film has been digitally restored using Warner Bros' new "Ultra Resolution" technique for its re-release on DVD Nov 9.

BenQ has upgraded its $162 16x DVD Dual DL burner (DW1620) to include support for DVD disc writing speeds of 16x DVD-R. BenQ launched the DW1620 at the end of June with writing speeds of 16x DVD+R and 8x DVD-R. The compay has shipped around 2 million DVD burners in the first six months of this year and expects its monthly shipments, both OEM production and own-brand sales, to grow from 600,000 DVD burners currently to 1 million units by the end of this year, to total seven million units for the year.

With the increasing availability of 16x DVD burners on the market, 16x DVD+R discs are expected to become the mainstream blank optical discs in the fourth quarter of this year, according to Robert Wong, chairman of CMC Magnetics, Taiwan’s largest producer of optical discs. Wong predicted that the OEM price level for 16x DVD+R will drop from the current $0.80 per disc to $0.60-0.70 next quarter. Global demand for 16x DVD+R discs is expected to rise from 1.6 billion discs in 2004 to 4.0 billion discs in 2005.

Australian content producer World Wide Entertainment is getting a London outpost after poaching the head of the European division of Australian mobile phone firm Swann Communications. In October, Lucas Bertrand will join World Wide's international business development team, remaining in his London base. He will be responsible for developing World Wide's mobile phone and DVD business, and will enhance the Australian company's international presence. World Wide is active in the kids factual, action sports and infotainment genres.

UK-based Metropolis Group completed work on the Oasis Definitely Maybe DVD, directed and produced by Dick Carruthers The DVD will be released on September 6 on Big Brother Recordings. Celebrated as the best British album ever by Q Magazine in June 2004, Definitely Maybe became the fastest selling debut album on its release in August 1994.

Sanyo's range of DVD players includes the DVD SL40 slimline model, a player only 50mm high, making it the slimmest DVD player on the market. This product is compatible with DVD, DVD-R, DCD+R, (S)VCD, CD, CD-R, CD-RW, and JPEG (Kodak picture CD). It provides a 3 disk memory, multi-language facility and parental lock.

UK video distributor Metrodome has become the first independent to sign up to the ACS Generic Label, a holographic on-pack label that confirms the authenticity of a product. Developers Applied Optical Technologies has worked with the British Video Assocation over the last two years to create a security device as part of the anti-piracy initiative. The label uses high security imaging technology displayed clearly on the pack offering several levels of authentication

Design work on the SP8210 SoC (system-on-chip) has been completed by Taiwanese company Sunplus Technology and volume production of the chip is expected this quarter, according to the company. Sunplus also plans to launch chip solutions with integrated MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 codecs for DVD recorders in the first quarter of 2005, says company president Yarn-Chen Chen.

The Federal Trade Commission of the US has greenflagged the planned merger between Sony Music Entertainment Inc. and BMG Entertainment. The parent companies are now free to go ahead with the creation of arguably the largest music company. The European Commission approved the merger earlier and now the companies hope to complete the merger in August. Estimates are that the merged music divisions will control more than 30% of the music market, heretofore dominated by the Universal Music Group, which commands some 26% of the global record market.

The Blockbuster DVD-by-mail service will cost $20 a month – a third less than analysts expected. Netflix, which boosted its price from $20 to $22 in June, may now have to consider rolling back its increase.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., the world's largest consumer-electronics maker, said first-quarter profit rose more than tenfold, aided by new flat-panel televisions and DVD recorders released in time for the Olympics. Net income at the maker of Panasonic-brand products soared to 32.8 billion yen ($293 million) in the three months ended June 30, from 2.7 billion yen a year earlier, the company said in a statement.