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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CEA: Broadcasters Dragging Feet on DTV

The <A HREF="http://www.ce.org/">Consumer Electronics Association</A> has accused the American broadcasting industry of delaying the transition to digital television by refusing to make the necessary investments in equipment and programming. The consumer electronics industry and related businesses are moving forward aggressively while broadcasters drag their feet, the CEA stated in a letter delivered March 8 to <A HREF="http://www.fcc.gov/">Federal Communications Commission</A> chairman Bill Kennard.

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NBC Departs NAB Over Ownership Cap

The <A HREF="http://www.nbc.com/">National Broadcasting Company</A> has announced its withdrawal from the <A HREF="http://www.nab.org/">National Association of Broadcasters</A>. The network is departing the industry's most powerful trade group in protest of the NAB's refusal to support the network's effort to raise the federally mandated cap on the number of stations that can be owned by a single company. A majority of NAB members support the current limits on ownership.

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Digital Cinema Major Concern for ShoWest Attendees

They have seen the future of cinema, and it is digital. The 12,000 attendees at last week's ShoWest 2000 convention in Las Vegas, the biggest annual event for theater owners, went home with both enthusiasm and concern about the effects digital technology will wreak on their industry. One major announcement was the agreement by six major theater chains that they would take their ticket sales onto the Internet.

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The Fastest-Selling Consumer Electronics Product in History

According to the results of the DVD Owners Study, released last week by the <A HREF="http://www.ce.org">Consumer Electronics Association</A> (CEA), "consumers have overwhelmingly voiced their satisfaction with DVD." The CEA has reported that 1999 was a tremendous year for the DVD player, which became the "fastest-selling consumer electronics product in history," achieving a household penetration level of approximately 5% after only three years in the market.

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Ten Million DTVs by 2003?

Last week, the <A HREF="http://www.ce.org">Consumer Electronics Association</A> (CEA) reported that in January 2000, for the fourth consecutive month, factory-to-dealer (not through to consumers) sales of digital television (DTV) products surpassed the 20,000-unit mark. The CEA's figures reveal that January's total of 21,008 units brings the total sales since the introduction of DTV in August 1998 to 155,410 units.

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BSkyB and TiVo form Strategic Alliance

Last week, <A HREF="http://www.tivo.com">TiVo</A> and Britain's <A HREF="http://www.sky.com">Sky Broadcasting Group</A> (BSkyB) announced an alliance that the companies claim marks the introduction of personal television to the United Kingdom. According to TiVo, "state-of-the-art personal video recorders similar in size and shape to VCRs and digital set-top boxes will deliver the personal television service, which will be co-branded by TiVo and Sky." The companies say that products and services are expected to be available in retail outlets this fall, with pricing and distribution to be announced shortly.

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CEA Forms R-7 Committees to Establish Standards for Home Networking

Home networking is getting hot, and the last few months have seen numerous announcements of new technologies and proprietary standards. To help sort out the confusion, last week the Technology and Standards Department of the <A HREF="http://www.ce.org">Consumer Electronics Association</A> (CEA) said it has reorganized its standards-setting committees to "reflect the changing home-networking industry." According to the CEA, the R-7 Home Networking Committee, created in May 1999, will now oversee and coordinate the work of the integrated home systems and home automation standards committees, which previously worked within specific product categories.

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Losses at Reel.com Dogging Hollywood Entertainment

Net loss: Video vendor Hollywood Entertainment Corporation would be doing well if it weren't for its publicly traded online operation <A HREF="http://www.reel.com/">Reel.com</A>, which just can't make a profit no matter how hard it tries. The nation's second-largest video rental chain, <A HREF="http://www.hollywoodvideo.com/">Hollywood Video</A> enjoyed strong growth last year but was driven into the red by losses incurred by the Internet business, which reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $21.7 million.

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