Disney "Sabre-Rattling" Over AOL-TW Merger

Fear that its programming will be given short shrift by the combined might of America Online and Time Warner has led the <A HREF="http://www.disney.com/">Walt Disney Company</A> to lobby US lawmakers about the media giants' impending merger. Disney has made quiet but persistent efforts to influence legislators who must approve the merger, according to several reports appearing in late March.

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Playstation 2 Lets Users Bypass DVD Copy-Protection Scheme

The cat has really gotten out of the bag with Sony's new Playstation 2. In mid-March, we <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?672">reported</A> that the machine can play Digital Versatile Discs from all regions, reinforcing one of the film industry's biggest fears: that the new format will circumvent carefully orchestrated release dates. Now it appears that the machine can do more.

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Affordable DTV Satellite Receivers Proliferate

Affordable set-top boxes for the reception of digital television signals from Direct Broadcast Satellites are popping up like spring flowers. At prices from under $250 to about $400, the STBs (set-top boxes) offer a lot of bang for the buck.

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College Hoops Tourney Will Boost DTV

Major sports events and digital television are made for each other. This year's annual <A HREF="http://www.ncaa.org/">National Collegiate Athletic Association</A> men's college basketball tournament will present broadcasters and electronics dealers an unprecedented opportunity to show the public what DTV is all about.

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Would You Like Some American Pie With That Pizza?

As part of its mission "to provide home entertainment however consumers want to receive it," <A HREF="http://www.blockbuster.com">Blockbuster</A> announced last week that it has taken a "significant first step" in the development of a national program to deliver movies and games to the home. Under a home-delivery agreement with Food.com, Blockbuster says that its videos will be delivered by Food.com through Takeout Taxi, a restaurant delivery service. Blockbuster has also <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?623">recently announced</A> a deal with MGM to develop digital streaming technologies for movie delivery.

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Rural Cable DTV Still Far Away

While many cable TV systems serving large metropolitan areas offer advanced video, data, and voice service over their cable TV lines, that's not often been the case in small towns and rural areas. In fact, according to the latest report by <A HREF="http://www.instat.com">Cahners In-Stat Group</A>, most cable operators in small- to medium-sized markets will not offer comparable services for the foreseeable future.

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Internet Exec Points to Animation as Convergence Bridge

Short films, many of them animated, are popping up all over the Internet. Because it is less demanding of bandwidth than live-action video, animation lends itself to the type of connections that most consumers have today. Ultimately, however, features that began on the Internet will find their way onto network television---improving it in the process.

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Giving Customers What They Want?

Judging from the responses to our <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/showvote.cgi?100">Vote!</A> question from several months ago, a significant number of home-theater fans are not happy with DVD region codes. The film studios are attempting to control their staggered rollouts of movies for the consumer markets around the planet with the codes, which prevent a DVD made in one region of the world from playing on a DVD player from another region.

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New Effort to Exploit Digital Broadcast Spectrum

Last week, <A HREF="http://www.iblast.com">iBlast Networks</A>, which comprises 12 major television broadcast groups, announced that it has formed a national network that it says will use a dedicated portion of the digital spectrum assigned to local television stations to deliver a "wide array of high-speed, over-the-air broadband digital content and services" direct to consumers. iBlast claims that this digital content will include music, video, games, software, and other applications.

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Microsoft's Home Theater Trojan Horse?

What looks on the surface to be an announcement for a new video-game platform may turn into an attempt to control the implementation of interactive services in the digital home. Last week, Bill Gates announced at the annual Game Developers Conference that <A HREF="http://www.microsoft.com">Microsoft</A> is entering the world of video games with the introduction of a "future-generation" dedicated video game console, currently code-named X-Box, designed to deliver "action-packed" games.

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