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News in Brief - august 2012


KIT Digital has appointed Peter Heiland as the company's interim chief executive officer. He is managing director of technology investment house JEC Capital Partners. Through various entities Heiland owns around 8% of KIT Digital. Founder Kaleil Isaza Tuzman stepped aside as CEO in March, to be replaced by Barak Bar-Cohen, himself as an interim CEO. Subsequently four directors have stood down and new appointments made.

SONY is to close its optical disc drive division (which manufacturers drives used in CD, DVD and computer drives), and lay off the division's 400 remaining staff. The unit had a 10-15 per cent market share, but it was unprofitable. The closure follows on from other dramatic changes, including shutting its cellular phone unit in Sweden, and a games development company in the UK. The aim is to trim about 10,000 jobs globally by March next year as it attempts to stem losses that last year cost it $5.8 billion.

THE INTERNATIONAL Telecommunication Union has approved the Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV) standard, that offers 16 times the resolution of the current HDTV format - 7,680 by 4,320 pixels - along with frame refresh rates of 120Hz. The latest format, also referred to 8K, is the brain child of Japan's public broadcaster NHK that has been working of the system called there Super Hi-Vision. The ITU's Radiocommunication Study Group 6 (Broadcasting service) had proposed Recommendation ITU-R BT.2020 earlier this month and, in the absence of objections, adopted the standard a few days ago.

FUJITSU Laboratories has developed the PC industry's first recycling system that collects used CDs and DVDs at Fujitsu Group recycling centers and reuses the plastic in the bodies of notebook PCs. The manufacturer began using this recycled plastic for part of the front panel of its LIFEBOOK P772/E notebook PC for enterprise customers, a model in its summer 2012 lineup.

DIGITAL Flex Media Inc has launched DualDisc CD/DVD hybrid replication services. The hybrid disc is a two-sided disc with DVD recorded material on one side, and digital audio material on the other. The company says DualDiscs are rapidly growing in popularity among direct marketers, marketing professionals, event and product promoters who want to provide their target audiences with both DVD and CD content, yet on a single disc.

TWENTIETH Century Fox has announced that a 2-disc Blu-ray Collectors' Edition set offering a 3D BD version of the theatrical cut of James Cameron?s Avatar will be released on 15 October in the UK and the day after in the US. Panasonic had been offering a 3D Blu-ray version of the title to those who bought their equipment, as part of a mail in voucher scheme that expired this March. A pack shot refers to it being a triple-play edition, so the second disc may well be the DVD.

KIT digital's second-quarter loss widened sharply as the video management software company works to undertake a business transformation. In the latest quarter, KIT reported a loss of $151.1m, compared with a year-earlier loss of $19.8m. Revenue fell 14% to $51.1 million, primarily due to lower revenue from its broadcast systems integration segment. The company, which makes on-demand software that helps companies manage and distribute video over the Internet, saw revenue soar last year, thanks in part to the growing popularity of online videos.

WITH growth in its home US market slowing, disc rental and video streaming company Netflix is to make further inroads in Europe with the expansion of its operations in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Netflix will not bring its DVD rental mail order service and offer exclusively unlimited video streaming by year's end. The company began streaming movies and TV shows over the Internet in the United Kingdom and Ireland in January.

DECLINES in leading high-street retailer HMV's core markets have pushed like-for-like sales down 12.1%, forcing it into the red for the year as it attempts to become the UK's ?leading entertainment brand?, under a new management team. Physical music sales fell 19% over the year and the company expects them to drop another 20% in the next year. Videol sales fell 13% and games fell 17%. It reported a pre-tax loss of £38.6m on sales of £873.1m in the 52 weeks to 28 April.

INDUSTRY veteran Albert Koval has joined quality assurance services supplier Testronic Labs in the newly-created role of Vice President, UltraViolet Services and Software Testing in the US. Most recently, Koval served as Director of UltraViolet Services at Solekai Systems in San Diego where he was responsible for managing the overall UltraViolet-related business, including the development of the DECE Compliance Verification Program (CVP) and DECE CFF Verifier, and served as the primary interface to DECE, the industry consortium developing the UltraViolet specifications.

THE ROYAL Canadian Mounted Police seized 100,000 counterfeit DVDs and 114 DVD burners from an organisation that operated out of three flea markets. Now shut down, the counterfeit operation - possibly the biggest in North America - generated C$2 million a year. The ringleader, Yu Qian Fang, 32, was charged with fraud, possession of property obtained by crime, and for the purpose of trafficking, and breaking the copyright act. Five other Chinese associates were charged with him.

ANSWERING Investors' questions in a call-in programme following the release of DreamWorks Animation SKG's Q2 balance sheet that saw a 63% dip over Q2 2011, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said the DVD market has stabilised, "settled into a plateau and seems to be hanging there now for the better part of the year." He also said that 50% of the $500m revenues Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted grossed worldwide have come from 3D "which continues to be an important and successful investment for us."