Industry Roundup

ClearPix in the clear? On July 21, the US House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee voted 18-9 in favor of the "Family Movie Act." Passage by the full House, Senate, and President would free manufacturers of DVD filtering technology (such as ClearPlay, Inc.) from legal consequences as a result of violating movie industry copyrights. ClearPlay and other companies offering "clean up" technology for feature films have been criticized by members of the Directors Guild of America for violating the sanctity of cinematic art.

Profits down for Blockbuster: The video giant's second-quarter net income dropped 24%, due to diminishing demand for rentals, according to Dow Jones Newswires. Net income for the quarter was $46.8 million, compared to $61.2 million during the same period a year earlier.

RCN rolls out DVRs: Princeton, NJ–based RCN Corporation announced July 20 the launch of its digital video recorder (DVR) service. The company's DVRs will allow RCN customers to digitally record their favorite TV programs and watch them on their own schedule. The recorders have a 50-hour capacity in standard definition, or 7 to 10 hours of high-def programming, and are currently available in Boston and New York. The devices should be available in all RCN markets by October 1, 2004. RCN Premium customers can add the DVR service to their packages for less than $11.95/month.

Expensive DTV boxes: Bill McConnell of Broadcasting & Cable reported July 21 that the US government may have to spend as much as $1 billion to provide DTV converter boxes for viewers who don't subscribe to either cable or satellite TV. The estimate, based on $100 each for 10 million over-the-air households, was made by House Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas), who described the expense as "nothing to scoff at" but probably necessary to speed the reclamation of analog broadcasting spectrum for auction to wireless companies. Barton is seeking a "hard" deadline of Dec. 31, 2006 for reclaiming analog channels. Auctioning off the analog spectrum could put tens of millions in the nation's bank account.

New goodies from Wireworld: Cooper City, FL–based Wireworld has introduced its Ultraviolet 5 line of digital audio/video cables for the new DVI (Digital VideoInterface) and HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) interface standards rapidly being adopted by advanced audio-video component makers. Ultraviolet 5 cables are engineered to "deliver performance approaching that of the company's top-of-the-line Starlight 5 cables, but at more value-oriented prices," according to the late July announcement. The Ultraviolet 5 line consists of eight each HDMI-to-HDMI, DVI-to-DVI, and HDMI-to-DVI cables ranging from 40" to 50' in length, plus accessory adapters and plasma control cables. Wireworld Ultraviolet 5 cables are certified by the HDMI testing organization for degradation-free runs up to 50', only 15' shy of the rating of its top-of-the-line Starlight 5 cables.

"We are extremely excited about these new digital media formats because there are unambiguous benefits gained from using higher quality cables," said David Salz, president and founder of Wireworld. "Right now, the market for upgrade DVI and HDMI cables is limited by the relatively small number of DVI and HDMI components in the hands of consumers. However, with the almost universal application of these standards for future components, we expect to see rapid growth of this market both in the US and overseas." Wireworld Ultraviolet 5 digital audio/video cables are currently available at prices ranging from $129.95 for a 40" cable, to $549.95 for a 50' cable.