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News in Brief

SUPERMARKET giant Tesco is making its movie debut with a joint venture to make films of books by best-selling authors. The group has joined forces with new media firm Amber Productions to create direct-to-DVD feature films, distributed online and through Tesco Direct. Paris Connections - based on a thriller by Jackie Collins - is currently being shot on location in France and will be available in Tesco stores in May.

THE HOLLYWOOD Reporter is reporting that US sales of Blu-ray Discs increased by 35% in the fourth quarter of 2009, compared to the same period in 2008. Statistics from the Digital Entertainment Group show that 38.6 million Blu-ray Discs were shipped, with revenue from sales increasing by 70% and revenue from rentals rising by 48%. Over the year as a whole, DEG found that total spending on Blu-ray Discs (sales and rentals) reached $1.5 billion.

BREAKING new grounds, Icon Home Entertainment said it will offer price parity on Blu-ray Disc and DVD new releases from April 1 including premium titles 'The Road', 'Nowhere Boy', 'Precious', 'A Single Man' and the forthcoming 'Edge of Darkness'.

TOSHIBA is embracing Blu-ray with the launch of BD players and recorders along with a Blu-ray/TV combo. The new HDTV set include a side-mounted, slot-loading Blu-ray drive with BD-Live support, plus they support recording television onto a USB external hard drive. Three new hard drive recorders can record HDTV broadcasts to Blu-ray discs or the hard disk. The top-end model gets both a 1TB drive and a VHS tape deck

NETFLIX, the US DVD-by-mail rental operator, has struck a deal with Nintendo to stream thousands of movies and TV episodes into homes via the games giant’s Wii consoles. The deal, expected to launch in the spring, will carry no extra charge for Netflix members who own a console and have a broadband connection. Nintendo sold more than 3 million Wii consoles in the US in December.

TOSHIBA unveiled at CES a flat-panel television – Cell TV – that converts any digital video into 3-D. Cell TV technology upgrades digital video content, even adding pixels to enhance low quality streams such as those common in user-generated online video. Cell televisions are synchronized to an array of online video channels and have built-in cameras, microphones and software for video-enabled Internet telephone calls.

JERRY Levin, who sold Time Warner for AOL shares inflated by the dotcom boom, has marked the 10th anniversary of the disastrous $164 billion deal with a call for today’s corporate titans to accept responsibility for the recent financial crisis. The former Time Warner chief executive, who had avoided apologising for the billions of dollars destroyed by the deal, was speaking during an appearance on CNBC.

TELEVISION and Blu-ray devices capable of accessing content directly from the Internet will start to gain ground fast, with more than 20% of flat panel TVs shipped in Europe this year able to connect to the Internet, according to a report from Futuresource Consulting. By the end of 2010, the installed base of connected TVs will swell to 15 million devices, representing nearly 10% of the total number of flat panel TVs in use.

SAMSUNG has joined Sony and JVC in signing up with RealD to integrate 3D technology into home displays. All three companies have come on board since the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) announced the specification for 3D on the high definition format in December.

UK SATELLITE broadcaster BSkyB has confirmed that its forthcoming Sky 3D TV service, which is to launch later this year, will be compatible with a wide range of 3D Ready TVs being launched in the UK and Ireland during 2010. Sky’s existing Sky+HD boxes, which are in 1.6 million UK and Irish homes, are already equipped to receive 3D TV, so customers will only need to upgrade their TV set.

WARNER Bros has taken steps to bolster sales of its DVDs at a time when the lucrative home entertainment format is under pressure by negotiating a new four-week release “window” with Netflix, the film subscription service. With most consumers buying new DVDs in the first four weeks on release, Warner has negotiated a 28-day delay between the DVDs going on sale and their availability to rent from Netflix.

ACCORDING to Adams Media Research US box office receipts boomed to $9.87 billion in 2009 (up 10% over 2008) overtook DVD and Blu-ray sales of $8.73 billion. Overall DVD and Blu-ray sales including films, television shows, concert videos and other content declined about 10% to $13 billion in 2009. The $8.73 billion consumers spent in 2009 to buy movies on DVD and Blu-ray was down 13% from the year before.