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News in Brief - march 2006


FIVE people have been arrested during a raid on what is believed to be the largest DVD piracy factory ever discovered in Britain. In its first operation since its launch in February 2006, the Metropolitan Police's film piracy unit, assisted by Trading Standards and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), discovered more than 60 DVD burner machines and 30,000 blank discs plus a large number of printed cover inlays during a search of an industrial premises in Leyton, London. The factory was capable of producing 2,700 DVDs a hour.

SOUTH Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has delayed the U.S. launch of its next-generation DVD player from May 23 to June 25 in order to complete testing. However, Samsung said in a statement, "We still anticipate that the Samsung BD-P1000 will be the first Blu-Ray player to launch at a national level in the United Sates." Samsung's BD-P1000 model is expected to be sold at a $999 street price and include a memory card interface, which enables users to enjoy digital still pictures on a high-definition television.

VIDEO rental companies Movielink and CinemaNow are now offering pay-to-own movie downloads of some 75 titles from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Sony Pictures and MGM catalogues, including ‘Dirty’, the first Sony title to be made simultaneously available in both DVD and download formats. The downloads are expected to be priced between $9.95 and $19.95 (£6-11.50) and will be encoded in Windows Media format with DRM copy-protection.

IT has been widely reported that the PS3 delay was due to problems with the finalization of the next-gen Blu-ray discs. However Shin Kiyoshi, President of the International Game Developers Association Japan believes that the delay may be the result Sony not being able to provide key PS3 development tools to developers promptly; including the compiler which converts programs into language that the console can understand. Publishers will be receiving the final release of the PS3's development tool in June, which gives them about five months before the worldwide launch in early November. Shin went on to say that he believes there will be a lot of Blu-ray movies, but very few games for the launch of the PS3.

ULEAD Systems is backtracking on its decision to bring Blu-ray authoring features to its new DVD package DVD MovieFactory 5. A statement released by Ulead said: "The company will remove Blu-ray Disc-related functions from the recently released version of Ulead DVD MovieFactory. Ulead will disable direct recording to Blu-ray Disc by removing the BD DiscRecorder module from the product. Blu-ray Disc authoring will also be removed from the DVD MovieFactory 5 authoring module. Ulead DVD MovieFactory 5 retains support for authoring video to the high-definition HD-DVD format". It is thought that the testing process is taking longer than expected.

MUSIC company Columbia Music Entertainment (CME) plans to liquidate the CD and DVD pressing business of its U.S. subsidiary Denon Digital. The claim comes from Belgian holding company RHJ International, which is one of its main shareholders, owning a 25.5 percent stake in Tokyo-listed CME. It’s believed Columbia Music took the decision after a board meeting on March 29. "This (the divestment of the non-core CD/DVD pressing business) will enable the company to significantly improve its profits by approximately 400 million yen ($3.39 million) annually," Columbia said.

KAGAN Research estimates that 2005 international motion picture revenue streams will total $25.4 billion compared to $24.9 billion for combined domestic movie distribution markets. Slowing growth rates in domestic box office and home video markets in 2005 will continue to flatten in the coming years. In contrast international movie markets are going to become larger revenue sources for motion picture distributors with emerging entertainment technologies contributing to increased penetration. By 2014, Kagan projects global movie markets will reach $38.2 billion with international home video constituting the largest portion of that revenue stream at $17.7 billion Overall, Kagan’s 10-year projections point to total movie distribution revenues (international and domestic combined) reaching $73 billion in 2014.

DISAPPOINTING sales have slowed the flow of movies on Sony’s proprietary Universal Media Disc (UMD) to a mere trickle. Universal Studios Home Entertainment has completely stopped producing UMD movies, according to executives, while others are drastically cutting back. And retailers also are cutting the amount of shelf space they've been devoting to UMD movies, amid talk that Wal-Mart Stores is about to dump the category entirely. Some analysts even suggests that, one year after it was launched in the United States, the Sony PlayStation Portable's days as a handheld movie-viewing device might be numbered.

IN a decision taken on 16 March 2006, the European Commission has selected interactive DVD technology pioneers ZOOtech as a winner of the European Information Society Technology Award for 2006. The prestigious event honours those organisations across Europe whose work represents the best innovations in information society technology. From a pool of 213 applicants from 26 countries, The European Commission selected 20 Winners of the 2006 IST Prize, based on proposals from independent experts from 16 European countries, nominated by Euro-CASE and agreed by the European Commission. The award nominees were then invited to exhibit their winning product at the European IST Prize Exhibition in Brussels on 30 November - 1 December 2005.

THE trial of Slobodan Milosevic generated about 120 DVDs, 46,000 pages of transcripts and more than 300,000 pages of oral and written evidence. The number of documents had reached 1.2 million pages, and more were on the way. All that work stopped in its tracks. On 13 March, two days after Milosevic's death, the international war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ended the case here, leaving lawyers and court officials, witnesses and victims abruptly bereft.

MEDIATECH Expo 2006 has been chosen by the DVD Forum as the venue for its annual European Verification Seminar. The MEDIA-TECH Association and DVD Forum announced today that the seminar on current and future DVD specifications will be held on the final day of the Expo (June 1) in Hall 3 at the Messe Frankfurt Fairgrounds. Many of the attendees and exhibitors at this major annual trade show for the media manufacturing industry are licensees of the DVD's licensing body, the DVD-FLLC, and are DVD manufacturers. Therefore this seminar, hosted by the MEDIA-TECH Association, is seen as a valuable add-on to the exhibition.

SHARI Redstone, president of National Amusements, the family-owned cinema chain that controls Viacom and CBS, said that Hollywood should increase the gap between a film’s theatre and DVD release. This is counter to current trends, and cinema owners have identified the compression of release windows as a key culprit behind the eight per cent decline in box office attendance that they suffered last year. Whereas the gap between a film’s cinema and home video release was 180 days just a few years ago, that has steadily eroded to an average of 129 days last year, reducing the incentive to go to the cinema. The window is expected to shrink even further as studios begin to experiment with universal release, in which a film is distributed simultaneously in cinemas and on DVD and cable or satellite video-on-demand.

LONDON post-production facility, Designlab, has appointed Daniel Reynolds as their Sales, PR and Marketing Manager. Coming from an international distribution background, Reynolds will be responsible for bringing new business from film clients and tailoring DVD authoring and design packages to their needs. Before joining Designlab, Reynolds worked at IN-motion Pictures for four years, heading up the operations department . He also booasts five years of post-facility experience, working for the likes of TVI and TMR, looking after major clients such as Capitol Films, Julien Temple and Entertainment Rights.