The set-top box could eventually become the center of your attention, which is why several turf wars have broken out to win control over this part of the home-theater market. With DTV on the horizon, cable and satellite companies will be upgrading the services that feed your TV with some mix of standard and high-definition digital audio and video. And as movie distribution moves toward a pay-per-view future, the gateway to these services---the set-top box---will have more prominence in most home-theater systems.
If the early numbers are any indication, HDTV will have plenty of support from the broadcast/production end of the media business. According to a recent survey conducted by <A HREF="http://www.scri.com">SCRI International, Inc.</A>, more than 40% of broadcast and production facilities around the world have already purchased and/or expect to purchase HDTV production/broadcast equipment by the year 2000.
The Internet is "more than a marketing medium---it's a revenue stream," says <A HREF="http://www.newlinecinema.com/">New Line Cinema</A>'s Gordon Paddison, one of a growing army of Hollywood promoters who are using the Internet to build interest in current films as well as those that are about to be released. Paddison has run several promotions on <A HREF="http://www.yahoo.com/">Yahoo.com</A> that have lured thousands of customers into theaters to redeem coupons available only on the Web.
For businesses wanting to learn more about the digital TV future, a new report from <A HREF="http://www.phillips.com">Phillips Business Information</A> (not to be confused with Philips Electronics) is stuffed full of juicy information. The report, entitled <A HREF="http://www.phillips.com/PhillipsUK/dtvsummary.htm"><I>Digital Television Broadcasting</I></A>, predicts that DTV "is likely to involve a profound transformation in the consumer's use of the TV set, changing him from a passive receiver of a small number of scheduled programs to an active chooser from a massive range of programming and services, many increasingly available on demand."
Last week, <A HREF="http://www.mvis.com/">Microvision, Inc.</A> announced that it has successfully conducted its first demonstrations of a laser-projection television display. The company claims that the full-color 17" image projected by the prototype system has the resolution of a VGA computer monitor and provides full-motion video. With additional development, the company plans to increase the size of the projected image and improve the resolution to extremely high levels that "exceed high-definition television (HDTV)." Prototypes are planned to be unveiled later this year.
V<I>al Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle MacLachlan, Kevin Dillon, Frank Whaley, Kathleen Quinlan. Directed by Oliver Stone. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (letterbox). Dolby Digital 5.1. 135 minutes. 1991. Live Entertainment 60451. Rated R. $29.95.</I>
The lack of local programming has long been perceived as an obstacle to the growth of Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) television. However, this assumption might be in error, according to two studies recently conducted by the <A HREF="http://www.strategisgroup.com/">Strategis Group</A>, a communications marketing research organization with offices in Washington DC, London, and Singapore.
In March, the <A HREF="http://www.fcc.gov">Federal Communications Commission</A> adopted new technical standards for so-called "V-chips"---programmable controllers that selectively block programs containing excessive violence, profanity, or sex. The regulations passed with congressional and presidential approval and were heralded as an empowering solution for working parents unable to supervise their children's viewing habits. A voluntary ratings system codes each program for objectionable material, and that code is transmitted with the program. Owners of V-chip-equipped receivers will be able to lock out any broadcast they deem unsuitable.