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news and views on broadcast and professional video/audio sectors, worldwide

w/e April 8, 2007 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2004

INDEX

Technology News | Industry News | Company News |
Product News | People in the News | Research News

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

IPTV Europe to double The European market for IPTV will double in 2007, according to Screen Digest. It forecasts that subscriptions to IPTV services across Europe will almost double from 2.9m in 2006 to 5.6m in 2007, with subscription revenues from IPTV increasing from £470m (E681m) to over £1bn. Almost one million of those new customers will be in France.

The top five IPTV operators in Europe – Orange, Telefónica, Free Telecom, Neuf Telecom and Fastweb - accounted for 60 per cent of the total IPTV market in the five countries at the end of 2006. Screen Digest expects that these operators will remain in their respective positions throughout 2007, with Neuf Telecom and Free Telecom vying for second place in France.

DTV subscribers in China to reach 20m

The number of digital cable TV subscribers in China will rise by 66 percent to 20 million by the end of 2007, according to a prediction by ST Microelectronics (ST). "China's digital TV industry will see a boom in 2007," Christos Lagomichos, vice president and general manager of the home entertainment group at ST, said. He attributed the surge to the government's plan to digitalise its TV industry.

Twenty-five Chinese cities have switched from analog cable TV to digital cable TV and the government plans to convert all cities in the eastern and central regions and most of those in the western area by 2010

SMPTE 2007 Call for Papers f

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) announced its Call for Papers for the SMPTE Technical Conference and Exhibition 2007. This event, set for Oct. 24-27 in Brooklyn, NY, will bring together technology thought-leaders from the post-production, filmmaking and broadcast industries.

SMPTE is seeking proposals for papers delivered during technical sessions and tutorials that will be conducted during the conference, providing attendees with vital information on the latest advances in motion imaging technologies. Proposals addressing the specific topics described below will be given priority. Details on the submission process can be found at www.smpte.org.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Discovery buys out Cox

Discovery Communications plans to buy out one of its three shareholders, Cox Communications, in a deal that includes transferring the Travel Channel and $1.275 billion (E0.95bn) in cash to Cox for its 25 per cent stake in the company.

The move increases the stakes of Discovery’s two other shareholders, John Malone and Advance/Newhouse Communications, to a two-thirds and one-third stake, respectively.

It was not clear, however, whether Mr. Malone’s increased stake — he has held 50 percent, compared with 25 per cent each for Advance/Newhouse and Cox — would ultimately translate into clear control of the company. Currently, any significant decisions at the company are subject to approval of 80 per cent of the company’s shareholders, and that is not expected to change as part of the Cox transaction. The move could set the stage for Discovery to become a publicly traded company.

AT&T Launches 'Free Access to HD Programming for a Year'

AT&T Inc. announced an offer for access to a market- leading lineup of HD programming at no cost for 12 months to qualifying new video customers within AT&T's traditional 22-state service area. New subscribers to AT&T U-verse(SM) TV service, where it is available, or to DIRECTV(R) Service, and AT&T | DISH Network(TM) service (which is offered through Echostar) who mail in the required redemption forms, are eligible.

"With great values and access to such a robust lineup of HD content, it's no surprise that consumers are turning to AT&T for their entertainment services," said Rick Welday, chief marketing officer, AT&T Consumer Marketing. "Free access to HD programming for a year gives consumers yet another reason to select AT&T over the competition."

Through its U-verse TV service and relationships with DIRECTV and Echostar, AT&T is offering access to a leading suite of HD programming, a technology that with capable equipment can deliver rich and realistic video and near movie theater-quality sound. AT&T U-verse TV receivers and DVR are HD-enabled.

AT&T offers more than 25 channels of HD programming through its AT&T U- verse TV service (where available) and up to 31 HD channels through AT&T satellite video broadcast services, DIRECTV Service and AT&T | DISH Network service. These HD lineups include premium movies, sports, news, home and gardening, food, family programming, classic films and pay-per-view channels.

The free access to HD programming offer, which is a value of up to $240, is one of the first consumer promotions to be featured across the AT&T 22- state footprint and is part of AT&T's efforts to deliver consumer benefits following the AT&T-BellSouth merger in December 2006.

The AT&T satellite video broadcast entertainment offer through AT&T | DISH Network is available now through May 31, 2007; through DIRECTV, the offer is available through June 26, 2007; and the AT&T U-verse TV offer is available now through June 30, 2007.

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COMPANY NEWS

Canon Tops Worldwide Digicam Market

Canon retained its lead as the worldwide shipment leader in digital cameras, according to figures released by the research firm IDC.

The company held 19 percent of the global market, followed by Sony at 16 percent and Kodak at 10 percent. The three companies held the top three positions, in the same order, in 2005 IDC said, but Kodak's share dropped 20 percent in 2005.

The total market for digital cameras grew 15 percent to 106 million units, helped along by digital SLRs and growth in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. Digital SLRs hit the 5 million unit mark, a jump of 39 percent over 2005.

Samsung doubled its worldwide share from 4 percent to 8 percent to displace Nikon as the fifth largest supplier.

Despite the growth, IDC cautioned that "the digital camera market will continue to slow down even as the camera becomes more of a personal device than a household item."

Chyron Partners with Cluster Pie

Chyron Corporation announced its technology partnership with Cluster Pie Inc., a software company specializing in data and graphics solutions for the television broadcast industry, worldwide.

Pie Fx provides an edit interface for post image processing and effects synthesis, directly within Lyric’s workspace. Pie Fx uses Lyric's LEIFlet technology to provide seamless presentation and utilization of keyframe based image processing solutions similar to those used in Adobe After Effects.

The Pie Fx LEIFlet includes a Lyric workspace editor that a designer can use to apply multi-layered keyframed image effects to text, images and movie objects. During the design of the graphics page, Pie Fx provides WYSIWYG output to Lyric's canvas maximizing productivity and layout cohesion.

Available now, Pie Fx greatly improves upon the creative process that requires image effects processing and subsequent integration of the graphic artefacts into Lyric video scenes. The WYSIWIG aspect of editing keyframed graphics assets, directly in the Lyric workspace, eliminates the guesswork and recalibration when working with multiple tools. The single point of design saves time and improves design fluency. In addition to facilitating the design process, Pie Fx can also apply templated effects to text and images during dynamic page recall for live playback.

“We have a strong relationship with Chyron; a significant portion of our engineering efforts involve direct integration and extensibility with Chyron products and technologies such as Lyric, CAMIO and CAL,” commented Michael Patrick of Cluster Pie, Inc. He added, “We chose to work with Chyron on this project because of the high productivity and design rewards for Lyric designers and users.”

“Chyron is a forward thinking company and we are proud to announce this partnership with Cluster Pie, Inc. This new plug-in will give Lyric users more functionality and greater creativity, further enhancing the skills of operators,” added Kevin Prince, Chyron’s Chief Operating Officer.

ViewCast Corporation Profitable Q4

ViewCast Corporation, a developer of video and audio encoding products enabling dynamic content delivery, announced a dramatic increase in sales revenue and reported net income for the fourth quarter 2006. For the twelve-months ended Dec. 31, 2006, Niagara system sales surged 95 percent as ViewCast moves toward profitability.

Total revenues from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of 2006 were $4.24 million, an increase of 30 percent over the $3.27 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2005.

“Niagara® Streaming/Encoding Systems and Osprey® Video capture cards sales grew throughout 2006, and given market demand, we expect this trend to continue through 2007 and beyond,” said Dave Stoner, president and chief operating officer of ViewCast Corporation. “Total sales increased during the fourth quarter 2006, compared to the same quarter in 2005, with Niagara product sales rising 85 percent during the period. As customers realize the range of applications and the full capability of ViewCast equipment, we expect our market share to continue to expand. As a result, ViewCast is actively pursuing business opportunities with valued added resellers and OEM customers.”

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PRODUCT NEWS

Avid's Media Composer and Xpress Pro for Intel-Based Macs

Avid Technology, Inc. announced the worldwide availability of version 2.7 of its Media Composer® family of products and version 5.7 of Avid Xpress® Pro software. The new Media Composer and Avid Xpress Pro systems now include support for Intel-based Mac notebooks and workstations, new workflow capabilities, and an updated bundle of third-party content creation software. Both Avid products also offer expanded format support, including write-back capabilities for the popular Sony XDCAM and Panasonic P2 file-based media formats, as well as support for the emerging 720p50 HD broadcast standard in Europe. In addition, version 2.7 of the Media Composer system introduces two industry breakthroughs – Avid ScriptSync™, a next-generation script-based editing tool that uses phonetic speech recognition technology to automatically sync text with media; and Avid DNxHD® 36, the industry’s most efficient HD codec for offline editorial, which runs at a data rate of 36 Mb/s (megabits per second), only slightly greater than the data rate of DV25 media, but at full-raster HD resolution. Avid will showcase the new Media Composer and Avid Xpress Pro systems – alongside other technology innovations – at the National Association of Broadcasters convention next month in Las Vegas from April 16 - 19, 2007.

Version 2.7 of Media Composer is available as software for $4,995 USMSRP and can be augmented with Avid DNA™ hardware such as Avid Mojo® SDI and Avid Adrenaline. All customers with current Avid Support contracts receive the software updates at no additional charge. For customers who do not have Avid Support, Avid offers a range of upgrade options:

Panasonic Intros New 3CCD HD AVCHD Camcorders

Panasonic announced two all- new High Definition video camcorders designed to keep pace with the continued evolution in video toward larger TV screens and higher definition video content. The new HDC-SD1 and HDC-DX1 record beautiful, detailed High Definition video images and clear, high-quality sound that make for exceptional viewing on today's most advanced home theater systems.

The HDC-SD1 records onto high capacity, solid-state SDHC Memory Cards. This tough, compact model debuts as the world's smallest and lightest 3CCD High Definition video camcorder(1). Because there are no moving parts in the recording section, the HDC-SD1 is also exceptionally resistant to impact. The user can count on reliable, virtually error-free recording.

The HDC-DX1 records onto convenient DVD discs. There is never a need to rewind or fast-forward, so users can play back a scene immediately after recording. The video image and sound data are recorded directly onto the disc for easy storage.

Both models use the high-resolution AVCHD format and feature the kind of 3CCD video recording system used in many professional broadcast cameras. The HDC-SD1 provides about 1 hour of High Definition recording on a 4GB SDHC Memory Card and the HDC-DX1 provides about 40 minutes of High Definition recording on a dual-layer DVD-R disc.

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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

Mark Gray Appointed President of SAMMA Systems

SAMMA Systems announced the appointment of Mark Gray as President. Gray, a well-respected industry icon, joins SAMMA Systems with over 35 years experience managing public and private companies in video software and hardware manufacturing.

Gray’s career includes a successful tenure with Kasenna where he served as Chairman, President and CEO from 2000-2006. Prior to Kasenna, he served as Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Pluto Technologies from 1995-2000. Prior positions include Chairman, President and CEO of Chyron Corporation and several senior executive positions at Sony Corporation of America, including President of Sony Communications Products Company. Gray also served as Chief Operating Officer of Pinnacle Systems Inc., General Manager of the Studio Products Division of Ampex Corporation, and executive positions with the Harris Corporation and Tektronix, Inc.

New President at Echolab

Echolab Corporation, a provider of professional video production switchers and broadcast tools, has named industry veteran Nigel Spratling as president, effective May 1. Spratling brings more than 30 years of engineering and marketing experience within the television broadcast industry to his new position.

Prior to joining Echolab, Spratling directed product planning, strategic marketing, and corporate development for several leading broadcast manufacturers, and has also served as a marketing and technology consultant for the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) and the IABM (International Association of Broadcast Manufacturers). Spratling has designed and managed numerous high-definition (HD) and file-based broadcast systems projects, and has developed innovative marketing programs for new technology platforms and products.

“Echolab has built a solid reputation in the industry as an innovative company with superb technical competence,” said Spratling. “The Echolab engineering team is taking advantage of several technology advances in their designs, and I know that customers will be as impressed as I am with Echolab’s new format-independent products being introduced at NAB2007. I’m looking forward to leading this dynamic and innovative company. We are very well positioned to address the growing demand for flexible production equipment.”

Spratling started his career as an engineer with Philips Technology in England and the Netherlands before coming to the United States to work as the vice president of marketing at AVS Electronics. He has held senior positions at Snell & Wilcox, NVISION, ADC Telecommunications, and Sigma Electronics, where he was president and CEO. A past chair of the NAB exhibitor’s board and creator of the NAB-HD pavilion, Spratling currently serves on the technical committee of SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers), and has authored two books aimed at guiding engineers into the digital age.

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RESEARCH NEWS

Mobile Broadcast TV Market

This presentation outlines the current environment of mobile broadcast TV in Europe, North America and certain regions in Asia-Pac. Datamonitor considers 2007 to be a critical year for the up-take of mobile broadcast TV and it is crucial for those interested in the space to understand current market trends and dynamics.

Outlines drivers for the uptake of mobile broadcast TV including consumer demand for multimedia handsets and increasing mobile phone penetration. Highlights different mobile broadcast TV business models, service flows and revenue streams including broadcast led, MNO led and wholesale approaches. Outlines benefits and challenges with each different bearer technology including DVB-H, MediaFLO, DAB-IP and DMB-T.

Datamonitor predicts at the end of 2006 there were around 4.4 million mobile broadcast TV subscribers. This subscriber base is forecasted to grow to c65.6 million in 2010 and c155.6 million by 2012 with a CAGR of 66.2%.

Broadcast video content will have to adapt to the mobile environment. These changes will be driven by both user consumption habits and the functionality of the handsets themselves. Datamonitor considers that the repurposing of content will be essential in adding value to services and further promoting mass adoption.

As the needs of mobile operators and content producers grow, coupled with the growing complexity of bearer technologies, Datamonitor considers that providers of mobile broadcast service management solutions must ensure that their systems are flexible enough to adapt to multiple formats and technical specifications

XM, Sirius 'would be monopoly'

An independent study claims that if the sat radio merger goes through, the satellite radio industry will have a monopoly potentially violating antitrust regulations. According to the report sent to the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice, satellite radio is a distinct product market and if the proposed merger between the industry's two major companies goes through, consumers would be at the mercy of a monopoly. Conducted by Criterion Economics, the study claims to offer "concrete evidence and analysis to some of the most important questions that have plagued lawmakers since the merger was announced earlier this year."

For the study, Criterion's J. Gregory Sidak - former deputy general counsel for the FCC - was asked to determine whether subscription-based satellite radio services are a relevant product market for antitrust purposes, and to assess the unilateral pricing effects of the proposed deal. The study took into account competition from other audio products such as MP3 players and internet radio, and determined that satellite radio is a distinct product market for antitrust analysis. Even when the product market is expanded to include AM, FM and HD radio, the proposed XM/Sirius merger still raises serious antitrust concerns, the report said.

The Criterion study said the merger would increase seller concentration ratios to "unacceptably high" levels. The report also said the majority of efficiencies identified by the companies would not benefit consumers nor preserve consumer welfare.

The Criterion study was commissioned by the Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio - a group claiming to be the only organization "dedicated to protecting the interests of satellite radio subscribers in the United States."

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Sourcing for the above reports are from press releases and news wires unless otherwise indicated