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News in Brief

As higher-speed DVD multi-format burners become widely available, Verbatim, which claims to be the first media manufacturer to offer a complete range of high-speed write-once and rewritable DVD media, is ready to ship 8x-speed DataLifePlus 4.7GB DVD+R media. (See Product Launches)

Taiwan's CMC Magnetics is looking to become the world's biggest DVD-R manufacturer next year. It expects to take 40% of the global market by cranking out 1.8 billion units, according to local reports. The company currently accounts for over 30% of global DVD-R production. Chairman Bob Wong says that the company's monthly DVD-R output would reach 30 million pieces by the end of this year, up from the current 24 million units, which ranks CMC number one in Taiwan. CNC sales expected to top $590 million this year.

News Corp's Hollywood film business saw operating income leap to $328m in the 3-months to September 30, 2003, up from $100m in the same period in the previous year. The gains were put down to higher sales of 20th-Fox’s DVD-led home entertainment product.

The French government on Tuesday said it was placing 18.5 per cent of shares held in Thomson, the French electronics maker, on sale.The 52m shares were worth about 950m Euros ($1.11bn), as at Monday's closing price. Thomson, which earlier this week confirmed preliminary plans to combine its TV and DVD manufacturing operations with TCL International, the Hong Kong-listed Chinese group, said it would buy back 3m of the shares.The sale of its stake in Thomson is part of an effort by the French government which is under pressure from the European Commission to rein in its widening budget deficit.

The number of worldwide broadband subscribers grew 72 percent in 2002 to approximately 63 million, according to a report issued today by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The Republic of Korea leads the way in broadband penetration, with approximately 21 broadband subscribers for every 100 inhabitants. Hong Kong (China) ranks second in the world with nearly 15 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants and Canada ranks third with just over 11 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants. Home users are driving the vast majority of broadband demand in all markets.

Digital publications will now hold their place in history thanks to a UK Member of Parliament’s private members bill, which became law on Friday, that allows the UK's six legal deposit libraries to demand copies of works published on CD, DVD and the internet. The number of electronic journals published between 2002 and 2005 is expected to quadruple from 52,000 to 193,00. France, Norway and Denmark have also enforced similar schemes to enable libraries to store electronic publications, while Germany has operated a voluntary contribution scheme since March 02.

The DVD+RW Video Format specifications Version 2.0 have just released. Version 2.0 describing the second generation DVD+RW Video discs, provides the same level of playback compatibility with existing DVD-Video players as first generation discs while adding new features (details in Product Launches).

Macrovision Corporation has been awarded the 2003 Software Industry Award for Best Security Initiative. Macrovision was chosen for its industry-wide leadership in software protection and security throughout its comprehensive portfolio of products. The Software Industry Awards were presented at the Software Business 2003 Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. Software Business Magazine evaluated hundreds of submissions to select the final winners in ten categories which included Best Security Initiative, Best Development Solution, Best Enterprise Integration and Best Product Development.

The DVD release of The Office series two shifted more than 143,000 copies in its first week on sale, making it the fastest-selling BBC DVD title ever. By comparison, the series one DVD sold 80,000 copies in week one last autumn, at the time setting a record for a UK TV show. In total, The Office series one DVD was bought by around 840,000 David Brent fansm, paving the way for the new release to top the 1 million mark.

According to a new report from IDC, DVD recording will be a fundamental driver of the DVD market as the average selling price of DVD recorders falls from $699 in 2002 to $126 in 2007, and dual playback and recording functionality quickly become the default feature set of DVD players. IDC expects worldwide unit shipments of recorder decks to grow at a 126% compound annual growth rate during the forecast period.

DVD Forum held a verification seminar for DVD high-speed recording media and PC authoring software on October 28 in Korea. The major theme of the seminar was format verification procedure for 3X speed DVD-RAM, 4X speed DVD-R, 2X speed DVD-RW, PC authoring software and DVD Logo programme. Venue was the LG Electronics’ Digital Media Research Lab.

Maxell has expanded its line of recordable DVD media with a new series of advanced DVD-R discs that incorporate a printable surface, allowing custom printing with select inkjet and thermal printers. The discs are compatible with DVD-R recorders up to 4X and are designed for custom printing with special CD/DVD inkjet and thermal printers or for custom silk screening. Printable DVD-R discs come in three different printing surface options: white matte for ink jet printers, and shiny silver and shiny white, which can be used for thermal printers and silk screening.

The UK’s post-production industry generated £1.39bn in revenues in 2002 and employs 15,000 people, according to a comprehensive new study of the sector by the UK Film Council. The report - Post-production in the UK - concludes that the UK post sector ranks with the US and New Zealand as one of the top three providers of visual special effects for the global film industry.

VHS retail product seemingly still has a role in the DVD-dominated UK market. Figures provided by Official UK Chart Company show that in October, VHS sales were running just 300,000 down on the same month last year. While DVD soared ahead from 4.7 million units in October 2002 to 7.7 million this year, VHS sales remained at a fairly steady 3.5 million tapes against 3.8 million in the same month last year. While the film category is dominated by DVD, VHS actually increased its share of the combined children’s market from 27% to 34% in October.

Two new trivia games have recently hit store shelves. Hasbro and Parker Brothers have joined to create the Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture DVD Game. Besides the standard game board and cards, this Trivial Pursuit also includes a DVD with TV clips, movie scenes and commercials to help players answer up to 600 additional questions. Also now on DVD are such classic board games as Candyland, Cluedo and Monopoly. Focusing solely on film, Mattel's Scene It? uses a DVD to allow players to interact with digital entertainment

Zoetrope, Francis Ford Coppola’s production company that is now planning to move into US theatrical distribution, plans to also distribute DVDs, starting with One From The Heart in late January.

A study, The Global Music Industry, from Informa Media Group predicts that music revenues will drop under $28bn next year, but will pick up in 2005, growing to around $32bn by 2008. Study says that this will be because the industry will get a handle on file-sharing and put more stringent controls on CD copying, rather than because consumers will spend more on their music.

Leading Japanese DVD drive makers such as Sony and Teac have speeded up outsourcing 4x DVD+RW drives to Taiwan following recent steep price falls – down 40%-50% over the past three months – according to local sources.

British content providers now have greater powers in the fight against piracy since the European Copyright Directive has been adopted by UK law. Development allows rights holders to take out High Court injunctions against internet service providers (ISPs) that host films for illegal downloading. This is good news for companies such as Macrovision which now has the power to tackle people in British courts who deal in devices that circumvent its copy protection systems.

Disney’s worldwide DVD sales were up 20% during the fourth quarter led by sales of Chicago and Bringing Down the House. DVD sales spiked 40% for the year with 175 million units sold, CFO Thomas Staggs said. Disney sold 11 million DVDs worldwide of The Lion King Special Edition since its October release and 20 million videos of Finding Nemo in the U.S. since its November 4 release.

The UK’s newest DVD online rental service Screenselect now claims to offer the largest DVD library in Europe with 15,000 titles in stock.

Time Warner took a major step toward selling its Warner Music division for $2.5 billion to a consortium led by Edgar Bronfman Jr., as its board pulled away from a previously favoured higher offer from the EMI Group. Time Warner's board has given Mr. Bronfman a deadline of Sunday to finish reviewing the music division's books and complete his offer.