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News in Brief - march 2009


SONY is cutting the price of its PlayStation 2 console by almost 25% in both Europe and North America, the company said Tuesday. The console, which has just begun its tenth year on retail shelves, will cost €100 ($133) and $100 from Wednesday. It previously cost €130 and $130. Sony has sold more than 136 million of the consoles since it first launched on 4 March 2000, in Japan.

FRENCH content digitisation specialist Videoforever has signed a deal aimed at protecting content on the Videoforever platform’s On Demand DVDs by CSS, using the Sonic Solutions company’s Qflix solution. This type of protection is designed to make it impossible to copy a DVD-Video, by adding a digital lock. Videoforever works with 700 retail outlets, with companies such as Carrefour, Cora, France Loisirs and Phox, and has digitised 500,000 films.

GLOBAL shipments of high-definition settop boxes, camcorders, DVD players and videogame consoles are expected to triple from 2008 to 2012, as HD becomes the ubiquitous video standard worldwide, according to iSuppli Corp. Global shipments of HD-capable equipment in these categories will rise to 202 million units by 2012, up from 68.9 million in 2008. By 2012, 52.9% of STBs, camcorders, DVD players and game consoles shipped will be HD-capable, up from 21.6% in 2008.

THE BRITISH-INDIAN hit "Slumdog Millionaire" won big at the 81st Academy Awards. The film has been a box office boon around the world, except in India. Fox Star Studios reports that "Slumdog" grossed only 135 million rupees ($2.8 million) over its first weekend in India last month. Piracy is a major reason for the lower-than-desired box office receipts. Apparently, a lot of people had already watched the movie before it hit the big screen. A bootleg DVD of "Slumdog" sells for around 50 or 80 rupees ($1-1.50).

SONY Pictures Home Entertainment will release all of its standard-definition DVDs from 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop' on, in new lighter packaging that uses 20% less plastic than traditional DVD packaging. The discs will also come in shrinkwrap that is 20% lighter and the paper the artwork is printed on will contain 30% post-consumer waste. The studio's goal is to reduce the carbon emissions from its DVD production and distribution by 2 million pounds by year's end. It was said that the DVDs will no longer come with a cardboard slipcover which, according to Sony, would save 2,200 trees or 322 tons of wood, for just one disc.

DVD RENTAL chain Blockbuster and TiVo are joining forces to deliver Blockbuster's vast library of digital movie titles directly to the television set via TiVo digital video recorders. Blockbuster OnDemand, featuring content to both buy and rent, will be integrated into TiVo Series2 Series3, TiVo HD, and TiVo HD XL DVRs. The TiVo decks will be sold at thousands of Blockbuster stores nationwide as well as online at blockbuster.com. The service should debut in the second half of 2009.

SEVERAL patent holders in MPEG LA’s MPEG-2 Patent Portfolio License have filed separate patent enforcement actions in New York and Düsseldorf against the Lenovo group of companies for infringing MPEG-2 patents. According to the complaints, Lenovo offers in the US and Germany products, such as desktop computers, laptop computers, Blu-ray Disc drives, DVD drives and software, which use patent-protected MPEG-2 methods without having entered into licenses with the individual patent holders.

APPLE has added a library of high definition digital retail titles to the iTunes catalogue in the US. Download-to-own HD movies cost $19.99 compared to a standard definition price of $14.99. An SD file is bundled with the HD purchase for playback on an iPhone or iPod. Apple announced that 33m movies have been bought or rented through the iTunes store to date. The company also announced cumulative TV show sales of 250m, with over 50 per cent of TV shows purchased in HD where the option is available.

FACING the prospect of a record loss and the possible need for additional capital to shore up a battered balance sheet, Toshiba Corp. said its chief executive will step down in June and be replaced by a veteran of the company's nuclear power business. Norio Sasaki, the 59-year-old head of Toshiba's infrastructure systems group, will become the next president and CEO in June, pending shareholder approval.

DISNEY’s 'Wall-E' has rocketed into the record books to become the biggest selling animated Blu-ray Disc of all time. According to figures released today, Blu-ray Discs have accounted for more than one in ten of 'Wall-E' sales, beating the Blu-ray sales of box office hits such as 'Mamma Mia!', 'Ratatouille' and 'Kung Fu Panda.'

NINTENDO recently announced that it has shipped more than 100 million DS units, which makes it the fastest video game console to eclipse 100 million. The latest version of the DS, the DSi, which has a built-in camera, was released in Japan last November and will be available in North America next month. The Sony PlayStation 2 game console reached 100 million units shipped after five years and nine months - the original DS was launched in November 2004.

'PINOCCHIO, the Platinum Edition' (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) became the 1000th Blu-ray title to be launched in the UK, according to figures released by the British Video Association. Blu-ray discs are currently up on a 52 week rolling basis by 325% and sales are forecast to rise from 3.7 million in 2008 to over 13 million this year, according to analysts Screen Digest.

SINGULUS has announced a new production system for the manufacture of recordable Blu-ray Discs (BD-R), developed with its long-term partner Info Source Multimedia (ISMM). Since the beginning of 2008, the new BD-R production system has been in use at ISMM and they are the first supplier of recordable Blu-ray Discs in China. The BD-R will be needed for the recording ofHD films already being broadcast by TV stations in the USA.

SUMMIT self-defense has released many Israeli self-defense DVDs for sale through its online store. The DVDs are available to the public and teach self-defense, women's self-defense, handgun deployment, tactical knife, ground survival, hand-to-hand combat and responses to various reality based attacks. These DVDs are intended for the public, women, law enforcement, security officers, military or anyone wanting to learn reality-based self-defense.

MEXICAN police have seized over 60,000 pirated video games and related software during raids in the capital. The raid also led to the confiscation of 252 CD/DVD burners and 98,000 items of packaging destined for illicit software. This forms part of a major crackdown on piracy in the Latin American country, which has resulted in around one million pieces of pirated video game packaging being seized.

FRENCH leading independent replicator QOL has recruited Stuart Mansfield as Director of Marketing for Northern Europe, with special responsibility for Blu-ray. Mansfield is the former Director of Marketing for Macrovision.

FOLLOWING record sales of Blu-ray Discs in 2008, the British Video Association, the trade body for the home entertainment industry, is teaming up with Yahoo Movies! as well as Total Film, SfX and 'DVD & Blu-ray Review' to give readers and surfers the opportunity to vote for the best Blu-ray title of 2008 on the UK’s official Blu-ray website, www.bluray revolution.co.uk. There are 20 top contenders for this award, the winner of which will be announced at the annual BVA Awards bash on Thursday 30 April.

FACING the prospect of a record loss and the possible need for additional capital to shore up a battered balance sheet, Toshiba Corp. said its chief executive will step down in June and be replaced by a veteran of the company's nuclear power business. Norio Sasaki, the 59-year-old head of Toshiba's infrastructure systems group, will become the next president and CEO in June, pending shareholder approval.

DISNEY’s 'Wall-E' has rocketed into the record books to become the biggest selling animated Blu-ray Disc of all time. According to figures released today, Blu-ray Discs have accounted for more than one in ten of 'Wall-E' sales, beating the Blu-ray sales of box office hits such as 'Mamma Mia!', 'Ratatouille' and 'Kung Fu Panda.'

NINTENDO recently announced that it has shipped more than 100 million DS units, which makes it the fastest video game console to eclipse 100 million. The latest version of the DS, the DSi, which has a built-in camera, was released in Japan last November and will be available in North America next month. The Sony PlayStation 2 game console reached 100 million units shipped after five years and nine months - the original DS was launched in November 2004.

'PINOCCHIO, the Platinum Edition' (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) became the 1000th Blu-ray title to be launched in the UK, according to figures released by the British Video Association. Blu-ray discs are currently up on a 52 week rolling basis by 325% and sales are forecast to rise from 3.7 million in 2008 to over 13 million this year, according to analysts Screen Digest.

SINGULUS has announced a new production system for the manufacture of recordable Blu-ray Discs (BD-R), developed with its long-term partner Info Source Multimedia (ISMM). Since the beginning of 2008, the new BD-R production system has been in use at ISMM and they are the first supplier of recordable Blu-ray Discs in China. The BD-R will be needed for the recording of high definition films that are already being broadcast by TV stations in the USA and will become increasingly commonplace throughout Europe.

SUMMIT self-defense has released many Israeli self-defense DVDs for sale through its online store. The DVDs are available to the public and teach self-defense, women's self-defense, handgun deployment, tactical knife, ground survival, hand-to-hand combat and responses to various reality based attacks. These DVDs are intended for the public, women, law enforcement, security officers, military or anyone wanting to learn reality-based self-defense.

MEXICAN police have seized over 60,000 pirated video games and related software during raids in the Tepito area of Mexico City. The Metropolitan Delegation in Camarones of the Procuraduria General de la Republica, alongside the Federal Preventative Police, also confiscated 252 CD/DVD burners and 98,000 items of packaging destined for illicit software. This forms part of a major crackdown on piracy in the Latin American country, which has resulted in around one million pieces of pirated video game packaging being seized.

FRENCH leading independent replicator QOL has recruited Stuart Mansfield as Director of Marketing for Northern Europe, with special responsibility for Blu-ray. Mansfield is the former Director of Marketing for Macrovision.

FOLLOWING record sales of Blu-ray Discs in 2008, the British Video Association, the trade body for the home entertainment industry, is teaming up with Yahoo Movies! as well as Total Film, SfX and 'DVD & Blu-ray Review' to give readers and surfers the opportunity to vote for the best Blu-ray title of 2008 on the UK’s official Blu-ray website, www.bluray revolution.co.uk. There are 20 top contenders for this award, the winner of which will be announced at the annual BVA Awards bash on Thursday 30 April.

MICROSOFT has confirmed its upcoming Windows 7 operating system will not support Blu-ray movie playback without the addition of third-party media software. Blu-ray support in Windows 7 will be provided by "PC makers or BRD drive makers," according to Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group at Microsoft, in a statement published by windows7center.com.

UK MEDIA regulator Ofcom has ruled that it will present "no regulatory barriers" to the development of super-fast broadband infrastructure. The ruling will allow BT to proceed with an investment of ?1.5 billion in the network, giving up to 20 million UK homes access to high-speed Internet. The network would see the installation of fibre-optic cables to street-side cabinets, offering speeds of between 40 and 60Mbps, with about 1 million homes having fibre to the home and speeds of 100Mbps.

TIME WARNER is developing an initiative dubbed TV Everywhere that will allow viewers to watch networks such as CNN, Cartoon Network and TNT online - as long as they can prove they subscribe to cable, satellite or a telecom TV service. The move comes as Time Warner divests its own cable division.

HOWARD STRINGER, Sony chief executive officer, will replace Ryoji Chubachi as president in a move to give the CEO a freer hand in restructuring the struggling electronics giant. Stringer, 67, will retain his existing title of chairman and CEO. Chubachi, 61, will become vice chairman responsible for product quality and safety, an assignment that is expected to remove him from the frontlines of decision-making. Sony also said it will reorganise its electronics and games divisions to better integrate the company’s sprawling business. In one major change, Kazuo Hirai, CEO of Sony’s video games unit, will head a new business group that will bring together the company’s personal computers and mobile electronics.

FRIDAY 13th proved unlucky for games criminals. Raids on two separate Scottish addresses to investigate an illegal counterfeiting operation have lead to the arrest of two people in the Highlands. Following the raids last Friday - the 13th - a large number of items including consoles and games were seized as part of the ongoing fight against Intellectual Properly (IP) Crime by investigators from ELSPA (the Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association) working in partnership with the local police and trading standards.

MICROSOFT has signed a deal with NBC Universal to offer its movies to the Xbox 360 games console with a choice of standard or high-definition quality. Users will be able to download high definition Universal Pictures movies from the Xbox Live marketplace, and watch them on the television in their lounge. Xbox users can already watch movies from Warner Bros and Paramount Pictures. There will be more than 30 films initially available for download from Universal Pictures’ library, including “Shaun of the Dead” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

VUDU has begun offering high definition movies for download-to-own, making it the first VOD service to do so. Vudu's rental library includes 1,400 HD movies, but it's only selling 50 titles as download-to-own. From here on out, Vudu plans to release its HD titles from studios for purchase day and date with DVD release. This new offering will be available in both instant HD and HDX format at the same price, ranging from $13.99 to $23.99.

NETFLIX CFO, Barry McCarthy has said the company is likely to offer its online streaming service on a stand-alone basis in the foreseeable future. However, he stressed the company still remains focused on providing a bundled offering, but said he understands that some viewers will find a stand-alone streaming service to be compelling, particularly as more compatible devices become prevalent.

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.