Europe's online source of news, data & analysis for professionals involved in packaged media and new delivery technologies

News in Brief - november 2004


THOMSON took a step forward in the expansion of its broadcast services activity with the addition of Corinthian Television Facilities in London, UK. Corinthian is one of Europe's leading broadcast television facilities companies providing live studios, graphics, video, audio production and post-production and transmission playout to major international broadcasters through long term contracts.

THE LIVE AID CHARITY in UK is to get all the Value Added Tax paid on sales of its new DVD and the new version of the 1984 hit Do They Know It's Christmas? The decision by Chancellor Gordon Brown could be worth more than £4 million for the charity.

THE GLOBAL SEMICONDUCTOR industry's three-year growth cycle will grind to a halt next year amid an oversupply of memory chips, a trade group for US chip makers has forecast. Sales of chips will reach $214 billion in 2005, unchanged from 2004, before seeing 6.3 percent growth in 2006, the US Semiconductor Industry Association said.

PHILIPS is planning to reduce its CD-R royalty charge from US$0.045 to US$0.035 per disc, according to the company’s web site. However, producers of optical discs have not responded favorably to the decrease in royalty charges since it is smaller than they expected. The decrease of US$0.01 is too small to cover the recent drops in the makers’ gross margins due to rising prices for the key component polycarbonate (PC), coupled with falling CD-R disc prices, manufacturers say.

YAHOO! UK & IRELAND has appointed Myrddin Gwynedd as editor, as the firm strives to increase traffic to its newly created Entertainment portal. He will report to Yahoo! UK & Ireland chief editor, Simon Hinde. Gwynedd joins from internet portal, Blueyonder, where he was channel editor. He will be responsible for expanding Yahoo!'s entertainment content, forming partnerships with leading content providers, commissioning editorial and helping to redesign the new section. Yahoo! said the appointment was part of a new strategy to capitalise on an increased consumer interest in online information about films, music and celebrity gossip.

DVD VERSIONS of films are being used tin tiny cinemas in centres such as New Zealand’s Dunedin and Palmerston North. The independent film distributor Classic Cinema Corporation owns NZ rights to The Corporation, for example, is releasing the movie with four standard 35mm prints in larger cities.

THE GUARDIAN, an upmarket daily newspaper, became the first UK broadsheet to give away a free DVD as a circulation booster. The newspaper used the 1988 Italian classic film Cinema Paradiso for the one-day promotion. The DVD giveaway was supported by a major advertising campaign across print, radio, television and online.

SHANGHAI GRAND TECHNOLOGY, which manufactures recordable CDs and DVDs, has become the first Taiwan-owned optical storage media manufacturer establish a manufacturing base in Shanghai, mainland China.

THE BUSINESS SOFTWARE ALLIANCE (BSA) has doubled the bounty it will hand over to anyone providing useful information on software pirates. Originally, the BSA gave rewards to those who shared details of their employer's or former-employer's illegal software of up to 10 percent of the value of the software recovered. The BSA had previously set a ceiling of £10,000 for the handouts. The rate has now been increased to £20,000.

DIGITAL THEATER SYSTEMS has completed the acquisition of QDesign Corporation, a Canadian audio delivery technology company, that is now formally DTS Canada ULC. Based in Vancouver BC and already integrated into DTS' ongoing activities, the DTS Canada ULC team is to focus exclusively on product development, IP creation and Research & Development.

FACT, the UK Anti-piracy body, kicked off a new phase in a PR initiative by distributing a special newsletter aimed at the law enforcement and criminal justice community. Entitled The Facts it carries the headline “Fight DVD crime to tackle other crime,” and was road tested at The Annual Criminal Justice Management Conference in London, an event that attracted 400 senior figures from police, courts, Crown Prosecution service and the Home Office.

RITEK WILL RESUME development of DataPlay (micro-optical) discs and begin offering matching drives, company CEO Gordon Yeh stated. Ritek first produced DataPlay discs a few years ago. They have a lower cost per storage unit than other media, but the company discontinued production since the corresponding devices were too expensive and were not power-efficient. Growing demand for increasingly compact storage media, such as NAND flash and microdrives, for use in consumer electronics, convinced Ritek to resume development of DataPlay discs and the company also has plans to market the corresponding drives. It will launch both a 500MB and a 750MB disc by the end of the year and a 1GB disc in 2005.

CHINA'S MAJOR VENDORS of EVD players reduced their retail price level from 1,500 yuan (£99) to 998 yuan (£66) at the beginning of this month, increased sales have not followed, according to local sources. The main reason the price-cuts are proving ineffective is the high price of pre-recorded (movie) EVD discs. The 25-30 yuan (£1.65-£1.98) disc price is much higher than that of pre-recorded DVD discs, which sell for less than 10 yuan (£0.66), the makers pointed out. In addition, DVD players currently retail for 300-350 yuan (£19.79-£23.09), a price range much lower than that for EVD players.

THE DUALDISC GOT OFF to a shaky start in the US as the Donnas Album was withdrawn. Gold Medal one of the first DualDiscs to be marketed was taken out of the stores by Warner imprint Atlantic Records as buyers complained that the last track on the CD side ended abruptly, a problem not due to the DualDisc format, but a replication error.

THE AVERAGE 20- to 35-year-old household has 40 DVDs worth an average of £520, according to research carried out by the home insurance arm of Marks & Spencer, the major British retail chain. Poll results reveal that 61 percent of people expect to receive expensive entertainment-related items from family and friends, and will fork out £370 on similar gifts in return.

LSI LOGIC CORP. lost $282.4 million in the third quarter and will slash 510 jobs, or 11 percent of its workforce. The maker of chips for DVD players and data storage systems said revenue shrank 16 percent to $380.2 million. In the same period a year ago, LSI Logic posted a loss of $32 million on $450.2 million of sales. "We saw slowing of order rates and, as we moved into the third quarter, it became clear that a major downshift of (new orders) was under way," Wilfred Corrigan, LSI Logic's chairman and chief executive officer, said Wednesday in a conference call with Wall Street analysts.

SCREENSELECT, the UK’s Online DVD rental company has begun its largest advertising campaign to date, setting aside £750,000 in a bid to increase its share in the growing market. The campaign targets the firm’s core audience of urban males, across London and the South East, and will be “witty and irreverent” in style. The campaign will include 48 sheet cross-track underground posters and radio ads. In addition, UK cinemas will carry ScreenSelect posters, while ads on sandwich bags and online advertisements will also feature in the campaign.

FAMILY GUY is getting a fourth season on the Fox television network, after its phenomenal sales performance on DVD. Earlier, the show which had run for 3 seasons, had been cancelled. But with even more disc sales in prospect, it’s back on the fox schedule.

iPOINTS, a UK web loyalty rewards scheme, has partnered with DVD rental and retail firms www.moviechoices.com and www.choicesdirect.com in a bid to capitalise on the market in the run up to the lucrative Christmas period. Both firms are owned by the UK-based Home Entertainment Corporation, and iPoints says it is the first online loyalty scheme operating within this sector. Customers will be offered the chance to earn ipoints as they buy or rent DVDs or videos online. The ipoints can be redeemed against a series of free gifts from books to free flights.

THE CODING WORKSHOP, has launched a new, 21 Euro version of its Pocket DVD Wizard software package designed to convert personal DVD collections into files they can play back on a Pocket PC, or Portable Media Center. The new version includes a range of additional features including support for high resolution (VGA) devices, and the new Portable Media Centers such as the Creative Zen PMC.

NEC ELECTRONICS plans in 2005 to increase shipments of system chips for DVD recorders to 2.3 times the number shipped in 2003. System chips for DVD recorders comprise chips for handling analogue signal processing such as laser output control and chips for processing data read from the disc. The company, with a 42% global market share, shipped 16 million units in 2003, a figure it aims to boost to 24 million this year and 36 million in 2005. In November, it will begin shipping a chipset comprising two chips -- an analogue signal processor and a combination data processing unit and error correction microcontroller. In 2005, NEC aims to release the world's first product for 16x writing in any of the three recordable DVD formats.

JVC HAS ANNOUNCED that it has developed the world’s first single lens with a numeric aperture of 0.95. The ultra-small lens has a focal length of 0.75mm, and is 1.2mm in thickness and 2.1mm in diameter, about 25% smaller in lens surface area than the smallest Blu-ray disc system lens (NA of 0.85) the company has already developed. In principle, the new lens will enable reading of more than 40GB of data recorded on a 120mm-diameter single-layer disc. JVC will apply the lens to optical pickups for use with Blue-ray/DVD/CD discs as well as mobile devices.

NEW RESEARCH claims that in the UK the people of the North East industrial town of Newcastle spend the most money in Britain on DVDs andv CDs. On average people in the Newcastle area spent £79 on music and films in the past three months, compared with the UK average of £47. The most prudent are the Welsh, who spent just £25 in the same period, according to a survey by drinks group Thresher. Men spend twice as much on music as women - around £32 to women's £16 - but the sexes are slightly more equal when it comes to movies. Men invest around £25 a quarter to maintain their DVD library whereas women will fork out £20 on their favourite films.

MP3 IS STILL the overwhelming favorite of file traders, but the once-universal format's popularity has been going quietly but steadily down in personal music collections for the last year. According to researchers at The NPD Group's MusicWatch Digital who track the contents of people's hard drives, the percentage of MP3-formatted songs in digital-music collections has slid steadily in recent months, down to about 72 percent of people's collections from about 82 percent a year ago.

PRICE CUTS for the popular iPod digital music player and traditional DVD players accelerated price declines for US consumer electronics in August, according to a study prepared for Reuters. Overall, prices fell 2.1 percent from July for the more popular consumer electronics goods, according to NPD Consumer Electronics Price Watch. The price for a market basket of the 27 most popular electronics goods fell to $11,979 in August, the first time the basket has fallen below $12,000 since its inception in January 2003.

COUNTERFEITING WORLDWIDE in September topped at $212,435,492 of which digital media (CDs, DVDs, VCDs) stood at 11.7%. Counterfeiting as a whole was up 378 percent from August as per a survey by Canada’s Gieschen Consultancy. The survey states that China stood out with no specific incident being reported, whereas the United States takes the lead in counterfeit enforcement activity at 73%, followed by India (11%), Nigeria (9%), and the United Kingdom (4%).