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News in Brief - may 2004


The first combined MIPTV and MILIA attracted 11,110 participants from 92 countries. A buzzing MILIA Hall, MILIA Conferences and the success of the ‘New TV Briefings’ programme underlined the strong demand for on-going discussions between the television and interactive sectors, say the organisers.

Desktop Images, a leading provider of visual training programmes for the worldwide creative community,has released The Avid Editing Essentials Series, an extensive 4-DVD training series for Avid Xpress Pro & Xpress DV featuring the expert instruction of Steve Bayes, former Principle Product Designer for Avid Technology and author of the Avid Handbook.

Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, one of the most touching love story ever brought to the silver screen, has been remastered for DVD on its 40th anniversary.

Sales of DVD players and other electronic devices will be stronger than expected this year, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) claims. In the first quarter, semiconductor revenue was up 34% from a year ago to $48.8 billion. The SIA expects PC sales to grow 13% to 15% this year from 2003. Cellphone sales are expected to rise 16% and DVD players 35%.

Macrovision shares rocketed 30% following the company's report of first-quarter results. The maker of DVD and CD copy-protection products had first-quarter earnings (excluding special items) of 22 cents a share, up from 17 cents a share in the same period a year ago. Net income was $10.8 million compared to $6.9 million in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $38 million from $28.1 million.

The Cannes film festival is to give a badge of approval to a number of DVD titles handled by existing home entertainment distributors. For the first edition of the “DVD - Festival De Cannes” label, it appointed a committee of journalists and distributors to pick 20 titles released between June last year and June 2004. The panel considered the artistic merit, bonus material and packaging.

Sunplus Technology will enter the high-end DVD player single-chip solution market in the third quarter when the company begins volume production of its new DVD chip, the SP8210, a company spokesman said.

Helped by DVD sales, MGM reported a first-quarter net loss of $21.3 million, compared with a net loss of $55.8 million in the same quarter a year ago. MGM said first quarter revenues rose 17% to $464 million from $395 million one year ago. Worldwide sales of home videos and DVDs rose 44% during the quarter and DVD shipments were up 58% as MGM assumed control of distribution in Germany, France and Australia.

Apple Computer says it has sold more than 70 million songs during the first year of its online iTunes music service.The company, which struck a landmark deal with record companies last year to permit iTunes users to download copyrighted music, had originally said it believed it would sell 100 million songs during the first year of the service. Apple is now selling 2.7 million songs a week, charging 99 cents a song.

Full year profits at the Sony Corporation for the year ended March 31, 2004, were down 23.4% this year, to $851 million, and sales and operating revenues for the year showed little change, up just 0.3 percent to $72.1 billion. Among the company's hardest hid divisions was electronics, which posted a loss of $339 million. In games, meanwhile, operating income fell 40% to $650 million.

The American Department of Justice has created an Intellectual Property Task Force. Attorney General John Ashcroft named David M. Israelite, Deputy Chief of Staff and Counsellor to the Attorney General, to head it.

Iomega Corp., which made a name for itself by dramatically expanding the storage capability of flexible rotating media, has a new rigid magnetic disc cartridge that it hopes will be competitive with CD-RW disks and tape cartridges used for small business backup. With 35 Gbytes available on a removable hard disk cartridge, the company is hoping its REV drive will supplant 650-Mbyte CD-RW disks as the preferred archival storage mechanism for small businesses. The REV drive capacity is as much as 50 CD-RW disks, or eight DVD"RW discs.

Adobe Systems demonstrated Adobe Premiere Pro with high definition (HD) video solutions at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) event in Las Vegas from April 19-22. Adobe Premiere Pro-based HD systems can be configured from $5000, significantly changing the economics of delivering HD content.

Malaysia scored a major crackdown on piracy in April when $1.3m worth of illegal DVDs and VCDs and replicating equipment were seized from a single syndicate. Some of the discs were for distribution to India. The seizure is the biggest this year: together with 18 CD burners, more than 800,000 copies of pirated VCDs and DVDs, which were largely Bollywood and Tamil titles with a few English and Malay ones, were confiscated at the raided premises.

Beleaguered German producer-distributor Senator Entertainment filed for insolvency April 8 after failing to agree a rescue plan with its creditor banks and potential investors. The Berlin-based company said the filing affected parent company Senator Entertainment AG as well as the subsidiaries Senator Film Produktion GmbH, Senator Film Verleih GmbH and Central Filmvertriebs GmbH, but does not include the Los Angeles-based international sales arm Senator International.

Austria's equipment developer DaTarius has expanded its market to Australia. And the first 4X DVD Analysers in Australia will soon be installed, following the purchase by AAV Regency of a substantial range of DVD test equipment from DaTARIUS, including four units with 4X DVD Analyzers, one CD Analyzer Replica Stamper Master 1X 2X, and one DVD Analyzer Replica Stamper 1X. AAV Regency is an award-winning Australian replicator (Regency won “The Age/Dun & Bradstreet Manufacturing Award” in 2002 and 2003), formed last year following a joint venture between two of the country's leading media manufacturers, AAV Limited and Regency Recordings Pty Ltd. The new company is headed by regional Entrepreneur of the Year for 2003, Fiona Horman.

Bord Scannan na hƒireann (the Irish Film Board) films have topped the local Xtra-vision chain's rental charts over the last two months. Intermission, starring Colin Farrell, Cillian Murphy and Colin Meaney, was released on DVD exclusively to Xtra-vision in March and went straight into the number one position in their rental charts. It has become their highest grossing title ever released in Ireland over a six week period. Following hot on its heels, Song for a Raggy Boy was released on DVD to Xtra-vision early in April and has also hit the top position on the store's rental charts.

Seven big US movie studies have funded the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, set up by the Motion Picture Association. Federation executive director Adrianne Pecotic says: "We are looking at initiating civil actions against people at the moment who are selling pirated DVDs on Internet auction sites. We're getting a lot of complaints from people who are buying movies from Internet auction sites thinking that they are legitimate and finding when they arrive in the mail that they are not."

DVD Forum is to hold a verification seminar for DVD high-speed recording disc/drive April 22 in Zurich, Switzerland. The major themes of the seminar are the format verification procedure for 5X speed DVD-RAM, 8X speed DVD-R, 4X speed DVD-RW, and DVD Logo License Programme.

Macrovision announced today that Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has signed a multi-year contract to copy protect all of its worldwide DVDs and videocassettes.