CEA Says DTV Sales are Surging Ahead

According to statistics released last week, factory-to-dealer sales of digital television (DTV) products closed out the year by posting a fifth consecutive month of growth in December. Numbers released by the <A HREF="http://www.ce.org">Consumer Electronics Association</A> (CEA) indicate that DTV sales last month surpassed 23,000 units, bringing sales figures for 1999 to 121,226, and total sales since the introduction of DTV (in August 1998) to 134,402.

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Coming Soon: Self-Destructing Discs

The old <I>Mission: Impossible</I> TV series always opened with the head of the spy team picking up his instructions on a miniature tape recorder stashed in an obscure place. An authoritative voice would give Mr. Phelps his instructions&mdash;always with the option of declining the assignment&mdash;and then announce that the tape would self-destruct, which it did with a burst of flame and a puff of smoke.

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"As Seen On TV" Worth $5 Million to LA Group

What's a tag line worth? Try five million bucks. That's the price <A HREF="http://www.lagroupinc.com/">LA Group, Inc.</A>, paid in mid-January for "As Seen On TV," one of the oldest phrases in the marketing lexicon. The domain name <A HREF="http://www.AsSeenOnTV.com/">www.AsSeenOnTV.com</A> will be used for a portal site for customers looking for products they have seen&mdash;that's right&mdash;on TV.

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Showtime to Offer HDTV and Dolby Digital 5.1

Showtime Networks has begun offering its East and West Coast feeds in high-definition video mode with Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround sound. <A HREF="http://www.showtimeonline.com/">Showtime</A> is the first premium cable network to do so, the company claims.

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2000 GOP Convention to be Broadcast in HDTV

As announced last week, the 2000 Republican National Convention will be America's first political convention aired in high-definition television. But in an interesting twist, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson noted that the party has approved the request of <A HREF="http://www.nhk.or.jp/index-e.html">NHK</A> (Japan Broadcasting Corp.) to cover the Convention in HDTV. NHK says it will make available a digital high-definition feed to other "accredited" broadcasters choosing to take the signal for transmission to their viewers.

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Networks in Tiff over Digital Background Alteration

A war of words has broken out between television networks <A HREF="http://www.nbc.com/">NBC</A> and <A HREF="http://cbs.com/">CBS</A> over the use of digital effects that altered the background during CBS coverage of New Year's Eve festivities in New York's Times Square. "Shocked and outraged" is one of the milder phrases used by NBC executives over the use of digital effects by CBS technicians to block a huge NBC video sign visible behind newsman Dan Rather during the broadcast. A CBS logo was inserted in its place.

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World's Largest Video Display Lights Up

Last week, <A HREF="http://www.SmartVision.com">Saco SmartVision</A> announced that the world's largest video screen has been activated at 4 Times Square, flooding the area with nine-story-tall video images. The new screen is based on millions of discrete, individually energized red, green, and blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and measures 120x90 feet, following the curved form of the new Conde Nast Building at the southeast corner of Seventh Avenue and 43rd Street.

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Lucasfilm: No Phantom Menace on DVD

Home-theater fans who hope to add a DVD version of <I>Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace</I> to their collections when the videotape hits the streets in April will have a very long wait. Possibly as long as five years, according to publicity from <A HREF="http://www.lucasfilm.com/">Lucasfilm</A>, which says director George Lucas wants to do "something special" with the DVD release, a project he probably won't get to until 2005, after he has finished the next two chapters in the "prequel" series.

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TiVo and Replay DVRs: Are Consumers Buying Them?

It's been roughly 12 months since TiVo and Replay Networks first unveiled their digital video recorders, so it seemed a good time to ask how the format is doing so far. To answer the question, market intelligence company <A HREF="http://www.techtrends.net">TechTrends</A> conducted a survey of more than 1400 consumers for a new study, <I>The Digital Television Revolution: Success Factors for the Emerging Digital Video Recorder Market</I>. TechTrends claims that their research is the most comprehensive market study to date of the DVR market.

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Competition is Up—and So Are Cable Rates

One of the most cherished assumptions about a market economy is that competition drives down prices for goods and services. Widespread availability from numerous providers guarantees low prices, the conventional wisdom has it.

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