Report Outlines the Winners in the Switch to Digital Television

Bringing digital television to your home is not going to be cheap. And it's not only consumers who are going to have to pony up. Broadcasters and their distribution partners, whether cable or satellite, will be investing heavily in new digital technology that will require major upgrades to existing networks. But if someone's got to pay, then someone else will certainly benefit.

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CEMA and NAB Get Down to Work

The <A HREF="http://www.cema.org">Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association</A> and the <A HREF="http://www.nab.org">National Association of Broadcasters</A> have banded together to drive digital television and its prot&eacute;g&eacute;, HDTV, forward in the US. At a recent DTV summit in Dallas, 300 executives representing manufacturers, retailers, and broadcasters met to learn about DTV rollout plans, study research results, and discuss problems facing the industry.

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DigitalTheater 6000: Latest Boston Acoustics/Gateway Venture

Every few days, the convergence envelope gets pushed a little further. Last week, on July 15, <A HREF="http://www.bostonacoustics.com/">Boston Acoustics</A> announced its new DigitalTheater 6000 loudspeaker system, which the company describes as "a complete Dolby Digital 5.1 surround-sound system created specifically for use with computing and home theater systems." The five-satellites-plus-subwoofer system is being packaged by <A HREF="http://www.gateway.com/">Gateway</A> with its Destination computer systems.

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VSDA Convention: DVD Hardware, Software Take Off in Tandem

The chicken-or-egg issue that plagued the early ramp-up of DVD may now be history. Sales of both DVD hardware and software are increasing rapidly, attendees learned at last week's <A HREF="http://www.vsda.org/">Video Software Dealers Association</A> convention in Las Vegas.

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DVD Moves onto World Stage; Warner Launches Divx Counteroffensive

Yesterday, Japan; today, America; tomorrow, the world: <A HREF="http://www.disney.com">Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment</A> and <A HREF="http://www.wb.com">Warner Home Video</A> have signed a pact to distribute DVDs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union. Distribution of more than 100 titles to more than 30 regional territories will begin this fall. Studios to be represented include Warner, Disney, <A HREF="http://beta.choicemall.com/hollywoodpictures/">Hollywood Pictures</A>, and <A HREF="http://beta.choicemall.com/touchstone/">Touchstone Pictures</A>. Some independent films have also been picked up for distribution.

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In Other Video News . . .

Last week, <A HREF="http://www.nimbuscd.com">Nimbus CD International, Inc.</A> announced that it has produced a combined total of more than 3.5 million commercial DVD-Video and DVD-ROM discs since the launch of the format one year ago.

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Coppola Wins Massive Settlement from Warner Bros.

Thursday, July 9, was "an important day for artists," according to Robert Chapman, attorney for film director, producer, and writer Francis Ford Coppola. On that day, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury imposed $60 million in punitive damages on <A HREF="http://www.wb.com">Warner Brothers,</A> the defendant in a lawsuit brought by Coppola.

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Watching Brando at 30,000 Feet

You're finally on that plane to Tahiti, and you decide to check what's on for the in-flight movie. Oh-oh, they're running <I>Porky's: Part 12</I>, and you can barely even see the screen 23 rows ahead of you. Then you find the headphones---the type with two plastic tubes coming out of the armrest. Time to whip out some of your own DVDs, sit back with some high-quality headphones, and watch a couple of film versions of <I>Mutiny On The Bounty</I>---the Brando <I>and</I> Gibson varieties.

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Video's David vs. Goliath

Your local mom-and-pop video store might be on its way to extinction because of pricing benefits offered to large chains, complained the Independent Video Retailers Group last week at the <A HREF="http://www.vsda.org/">Video Software Dealers Association</A> trade show and conference in Las Vegas. According to the independents, mass-market outlets like <A HREF="http://www.blockbuster.com">Blockbuster</A> are given an unfair advantage by movie studios eager to increase rentals by putting more copies of hit movies in stores.

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Steerable Video Announced

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a concert video in which the camera angle changes every three seconds, and during the charango solo we're shown a close-up of the vocalist drinking bottled water offstage. More than once I've wanted to reach through the TV and throttle the film editor. But if a recent announcement pans out, it could put camera control into the viewer's hands and bring a whole new meaning to the term "interactive television."

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