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News in Brief - february 2009


ACCORDING to a recent Bloomberg report, Hollywood studios may change the way they pay actors, directors and producers, requiring creative talent to share risk as DVD sales decline. In a Bloomberg TV interview, Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Michael Lynton said that falling DVD sales have made studios reluctant to pay millions in salaries before recouping costs. Studios can no longer count on DVD sales, even when a movie is a hit, Lynton sai. Home video sales and rentals make up almost 70% of the global filmed entertainment market, according to estimates by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

AUDIODEV has also reported a contraction in net loss to SEK45.4 million (€3.9m) in 2008 from a net loss of SEK54.7 million (€4.8m) in 2007 . Net sales for the year totalled SEK116.0 million(€10.2m) with a profit/loss after financial items was SEK-44.4 million (-€6.4m); profit/loss after tax was SEK-45.4 million; and the backlog of orders at year-end was SEK6.6 million.

MITSUBISHI has announced it has created a new Linux-driven Blu-ray player one-third the size of original players designed for installation in cars. The player measures 50 x 178 x 180mm, and has a board density 1.5 times higher than original Blu-ray players, and anti-vibration has obviously been improved over regular models used in the living room.It will support BD-ROM, BD-R and BD-E, along with CD and DVD, though it should be interesting to see what the final product looks like after it's released. Exact technical specifications and BD standards of the Mitsubishi player have not been revealed. Panasonic originally impressed consumers with a conceptual in-dash Blu-ray player in late 2007, but the product still hasn't made it to market.

GERMANY’s arvato digital services is producing the Blu-ray version of The Class (Entre les murs). The Palme d’Or 2008, it was selected as one of the five 2009 Foreign Language Oscars nominees. Also nominated seven times for the Cesar Awards 2009, The Class is this year’s key title for France Télévisions Distribution. The contract was secured via arvato digital services’ Paris office.

TV VIEWERS in the United Kingdom will have exclusive access to the new Internet-based TV service Net TV from Philips, the company announced a few days ago. The new service is aimed specifically towards the higher-end TV series from Philips – series 8000 to 9000 and Cinema 21:9 TVs – and "enables simple, fast access to a wide range of entertainment and information web sites from the online start page on the TV screen." The service from Philips will offer support for YouTube, eBay, TomTom, and numerous other services, with other widgets to be added later. It's likely the box will be connected via WiFi Internet, so users won't have to worry about even more cable clutter in the future.

REDBOX, the company made famous by its red movie rental kiosks, has been bought out by its majority owner, Coinstar. The announcement was made during the company's Q4 earnings call, and it is expected that the buyout proceeded in order for Coinstar to wallow alone in the windfall profits that are expected over the next few years. There is talk Redbox will start testing higher rental prices for Blu-ray discs, much like Netflix has done, but obviously on a per-rental basis.

MITSUBISHI has announced it has created a new Linux-driven Blu-ray player one-third the size of original players designed for installation in cars. The player measures 50 x 178 x 180mm, and has a board density 1.5 times higher than original Blu-ray players, and anti-vibration has obviously been improved over regular models used in the living room.It will support BD-ROM, BD-R and BD-E, along with CD and DVD, though it should be interesting to see what the final product looks like after it's released. Exact technical specifications and BD standards of the Mitsubishi player have not been revealed. Panasonic originally impressed consumers with a conceptual in-dash Blu-ray player in late 2007, but the product still hasn't made it to market.

GERMANY’s arvato digital services is producing the Blu-ray version of The Class (Entre les murs). The Palme d’Or 2008, it was selected as one of the five 2009 Foreign Language Oscars nominees. Also nominated seven times for the Cesar Awards 2009, The Class is this year’s key title for France Télévisions Distribution. The contract was secured via arvato digital services’ Paris office.

THE EUROPEAN Union’s Legal Affairs Committee has recently approved a Commission proposal to extend the copyright term for music recordings from 50 years to 95 years. This move would ensure that performers and producers continue to receive royalties for 95 years from the first publication or performance of their song, but the amendment to the existing legislation applies only music compositions on physical devices and digital forms are excluded. A dedicated fund for session musicians was also approved by the committee. This fund would be financed by contributions from producers, who would be obliged to set aside for this purpose, at least once a year, at least 20% of the revenues gained from the proposed extension of copyright term.

ALL NEW DreamWorks full features on DVD will be released through Disney from 2010, when the company takes over from the current distributor, Paramount. The deal is effective for all regions except for India. It’s believed Paramount will retain all home entertainment rights to DVD titles that released prior to 2010 and will continue to release all animation projects through 2012.

CINRAM announced last Friday that David Rubenstein, its chief executive officer, stepped down after more than 15 years with the company, but will serve in his current role until 31 March of this year. No reason has been given for this decision and comments were not available from Cinram or Rubenstein. "Dave has served Cinram and its stakeholders extraordinarily well for many years. On behalf of the Fund and the board, I would like to sincerely thank Dave for his exceptional leadership and across the board contributions to Cinram," said Bill Anderson (pictured), chairman of the Cinram Fund's Board of Trustees.

IN ITS latest report, Datamonitor says that the global pre-recorded DVD and video market remained at a value of $53,173.2 million in 2007. In 2012, this market is forecast to have a value of $57,515 million, an increase of 8.2% since 2007. Retail DVD and video segment accounts for 70.6% of the global recorded DVD & Video market. The Americas is the largest recorded DVD & video market in the world, accounting for 53.2% of the global market value.

ACCORDING to a report in the Japanese newspaper Nikkei, Sony will report its first group operating loss in 14 years. The company has seen demand for LCD televisions decrease, leading to restructuring, cuts up to 16,000 jobs, investment cuts in its electronics business by 30% in the fiscal year ending March 2010, and facility closures. In addition to a tough economy, Sony has to deal with the steep appreciation of the yen. This expected group operating loss will be only Sony's second since it went public in 1958. Sony also said it would stop production at two overseas manufacturing sites, including the Sony Dax Technology Center in France, shift manufacturing to low-cost areas, and use OEM partners. Sony also postponed expanding the Nitra plant in Slovakia, one of Sony's LCD television-assembling sites.

THERE were an estimated 15.2 million DVD players, including portable models and DVD recorders, sold in 2008 in the China market, with a total sales value of 7.66 billion yuan ($1.10 billion). This is a fall of 18.5% and 20.8%, respectively, over 2007, according to China-based CCID Consulting. This is the first year of negative growth for the sector. This implies that China's DVD player market has already reached saturation and is in transition to high-definition standards such as Blu-ray, CCID says. Philips ranked fourth in 2008 sales volume, the only non-domestic brand among the top-five vendors, CCID noted. In 2009, DVD player sales volume will drop by 10% and. In related news, China exported 109.89 million DVD players with a total value of US$5.1 billion during January-October 2008, CCID noted.

ACCORDING to a report in Home Media Magazine, ex-Warner excutive and “father of DVD” Warren Lieberfarb and MOD Systems are continuing their legal battle over money, and how much MOD is supposed to owe Lieberfarb for consultancy services, following his appointment in 2006 as vice chairman. Apparently Lieberfarb first sued MOD last summer, claiming he is owed close to $750,000 for a variety of expenses, and further alleging that MOD agreed to pay Lieberfarb 5% of any investment funds it received, later reneging on this. MOD countersued earlier this month claiming false representation on Lieberfarb's part. MOD Systems recently announced a system for secure digital video downloads to SD cards with playback on a range of CE devices.

ON BEHALF of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, research company TNO found that when people don't spend money to download music, movies and games, that money gets spent on other things. Because individual consumers benefit more from the extra cash than the media industry loses, the net effect on the economy is positive. It's worth noting that the study doesn't describe "unpaid downloads" as piracy, partly because it's only illegal to upload copyrighted material in the Netherlands and partly to account for free promotional content. The Dutch acquire roughly 7.5 free songs for every one that's purchased. That's 88 percent – not much different than the 95 percent worldwide piracy estimate by the IFPI.

EUROCONSULT and NPA have reported that the high definition television market in Europe is set to take off. Today 59 million European households are equipped with HD-enabled TV sets. That figure is set to grow to 116 million in 2010, a 51 per cent penetration rate and explode to 220 million in 2018, according to a report co-published by the two companies. Driving this adoption is the steady decline in prices for flat screens since 2004, and the imminent inclusion of HDTV capability as a standard feature in flat screens sold throughout Europe.

FIGURES compiled by the DEG based on data from Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) retailers and manufacturers, reveal that an estimated 25 million DVD players were sold to U.S. consumers in 2008. Since launch in spring 1997, some 264 million DVD players, including set-top and portable DVD players, Home-Theater-in-a-Box systems, TV/DVD and DVD/VCR combination players, have been sold to consumers, bringing the number of DVD households to approximately 92 million (adjusting for households with more than one player). The DEG estimates that 63.5% of DVD owners have more than one player. In the fourth quarter 2008, some 453 million DVDs shipped to retail. More than 1.4 billion software units shipped throughout 2008 and more than 10 billion discs have shipped since the DVD format launched in 1997.

WITH a strong yen and falling sales, Panasonic expects a net loss of ¥350 billion yen ($4.25 billion) for its fiscal year. Previously, Panasonic had forecast a net profit of ¥30 billion yen ($335 million). The company will reduce its global workforce by 15,000 employees. The market for LCD panels has also been difficult for NEC and Toshiba.

PROFITS in Korea's market for IPTV are expected to expand nearly 10 times by 2012 following the suspension of all analogue broadcasting services in Korea later that year. Ovum have said in a report that IPTV profits in Korea will increase to over $310 million in 2012 with almost 3.5 million subscribers. Ovum includes Korea as one of the highest potential in developing IPTV technologies, along with Canada and Singapore. On the other hand, Czech telco Volny has posted a message on its website stating that it is shutting down its IPTV service Volny TV. The reasons for the closure are so far unconfirmed, though it is believed to be due to poor subscription figures.

A 14-MONTH investigation into CD and DVD pirating in Gresham, Oregon, culminated in the seizure of at least 104,844 CDs and more than 39,000 DVDs, along with counterfeit Rolex watches, Oakley sunglasses, designer purses and shoes, with an estimated value of $2.2 million, making it one of the largest private property seizures in Oregon history. “These seizures were so extensive that U-Haul trucks were rented to seize property and several storage units were rented to store it,” Gresham Police Department Chief Craig Junginger said.

THE US motion picture industry's record-setting month at the box office may have cost it $246 million in tax breaks, as the US Senate stripped a provision from the economic stimulus bill that critics derided as an unnecessary Hollywood bailout. In denying the tax breaks on new film projects, senators cited the $1.03-billion haul from movie ticket sales in January, a 19% year-over-year increase, according to industry tracking firm Media by Numbers.

EBAY have joined forces with The Industry Trust for IP Awareness, reaffirming their stance against physical and digital copyright theft. It builds on the work from “eBay Against Counterfeits” campaign which launched in 2007. The Industry Trust for IP Awareness was established in 2004 to tackle film and TV copyright theft in the UK. Today it has more than 30 members including film and TV distributors, cinemas, DVD retailers and home entertainment rental companies.

ONLINE DVD company Netflix has announced one million Microsoft Xbox 360 video game console users have activated Netflix's movie streaming service in the past three months since the two companies formed a partnership according to Reuters. Netflix said the Xbox LIVE community has watched 1.5 billion minutes of movies and TV episodes through its Watch Instantly video service, but did not say how many subscribers it has actually gained from the partnership.

THE ECONOMIC crisis has affected the buying power of Thai consumers, many of whom have cut spending on home-entertainment products and replaced them with free Internet downloads and satellite television. Krit Sakulpanich, MD of Dream Express, expects the overall market for VCD and DVD products to plunge 20% this year, with local consumers turning more towards satellite television and free downloads from websites like YouTube. Thailand's VCD/DVD market was worth about Bt5 billion (€111 million) last year.

UNIVERSAL’s Oscar-nominated drama “The Changeling” will be the studio’s first DVD/VOD day and date release in the US as more studios opt to abandon the window between the two release platforms.

ENTERTAINMENT UK administrator Deloitte & Touche is set to sell off the contents of the collapsed Woolworths’ warehouses this week – inviting tenders to acquire around 3.3 million DVDs, 1.1 million videogames, 2.9 million CDs and 1.8 million books.