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

w/e February 25, 2007 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2004

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TECHNOLOGY NEWS

DTV -- Are the Feds Holding it Up?

According to this report by Phillip Swann, publisher of SCRI's online partner TV Predictions, recent developments suggest that federal officials are not getting serious about the nation's switch from analog to digital TV signals.

On February 17, 2009, the United States will switch from analog to Digital TV signals. At that time, if you don't have a Digital TV or a set-top converter box, you will not be able to watch television.

At this point, I have to predict that millions of Americans indeed will be unable to get TV signals on that fateful day because they either didn't buy a new set or they didn't understand the need for a converter box.

Why?
Over and over again, the federal government has demonstrated that it has no clue how it will persuade consumers to switch to Digital TV. Even worse, there's evidence that federal officials are not taking the issue seriously enough to get the job done.

Let me amplify my contention with some recent developments:

Not My Job
John Kneuer, who heads the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is overseeing the Digital TV transition, was asked last week by C-SPAN if the White House had a 'Plan B' in case millions of consumers lose their TV signals in 2009.

Remarkably, Kneuer, whose office advises the White House on telecommunications issues, said he didn't want to second-guess Congress, which did not include a backup plan in its passage of the February 17, 2009 deadline for the Digital TV transition.

The White House says it doesn't want to second-guess Congress.
In other words, because Congress didn't pass a 'Plan B," it's not up to Kneuer and the White House to suggest one.

Can you think of any other issue on which the White House would defer so willingly to Capitol Hill? I can't.

Kneuer's decision to punt on a 'Plan B' suggests that the administration is not terribly concerned what will happen on February 17, 2009, which arguably should not be too surprising. The digital transition will occur 27 days after President Bush leaves office.

It's For the Kids!
The FCC this week asked Congress for $1.5 million for a Digital TV consumer education campaign in 2008. The funding is pathetically low, but even more pathetic is that the FCC would use some of the money to educate children on the transition, according to Broadcasting & Cable magazine. Yes, that's right. Children. The agency wants to launch a "DTV Deputy" campaign for the kids, presumably to enlist their help in persuading Mom and Dad to get a new Digital TV.

Kneuer reportedly has said that the $5 million allocated for his office's consumer outreach plan is a "drop in the bucket." (He now says the quote was taken out of context.) But the FCC apparently believes that it can use a portion of the $1.5 million to target school kids.

Sorry, this sounds more like a "feel good" PSA effort than a substantive campaign.

Warning: This TV Could Be Hazardous to Your Viewing
Three Republican U.S. House members, including former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), recently introduced legislation designed to further consumer awareness of the digital transition. However, the bill largely calls for warning labels on analog TVs and more government reports written for and by federal bureaucrats.

And to be fair, the Democrats are doing nothing either to move this along. Some Democratic lawmakers have issued press releases saying there is a problem, but have taken no action. And now that they run the store, that's not acceptable.

Lesser of Evils?
The Digital TV transition will take place in just two years. And a recent survey by the Association of Public Television Stations says most Americans are still blissfully unaware it will happen. More scary is that viewers who get their TV signals from off-air antennas don't have any idea what's going on. (Cable and satellite viewers will likely be able to get converter boxes from their TV providers.)

If the government doesn't get serious -- and soon -- one of two things will happen:

1. Fearful that their constituents will storm the gates when they suddenly can't watch TV on February 17, 2009, Congress will be forced to extend the deadline another year or two.

2. The deadline will stay in place -- and millions of consumers will lose their TV signals.

The first option would be messy. The second one could be nasty.

DTV transition behind schedule, according to Harris

The FCC has stated that it will fine stations or take back a license to broadcast for those who do not make the conversion to digital television on time.

For starters, the table of allotments, whereby stations are assigned a digital channel by the FCC, is not finalized. That's about eight months behind schedule of where the FCC thought the spectrum management effort would be at this point in the transition to the ATSC specification.

Jay Adrick, vice president of strategic business development for the Harris Broadcast Communications Division, said that there are approximately 500 stations that will have to move from their current channel assignment to a new one. Of that total, about 300 will move from the UHF to VHF spectrum, where most will be allocated the same number digital channel as they occupied in the analog world. The remainder will move from a UHF channel to another within the same UHF spectrum, to get that station within the core allotment outlined by the FCC. This was done to reserve some bandwidth for emergency services, such as fire and ambulance workers.

"That's quite a feat to do, and more so to think about doing it overnight," Adrick said, adding that a lot of planning and technically reconfiguring of transmitters is required to switch channels. This includes the addition of a new mask filter, a higher tower and other transmission-related products. Harris has seen its transmission business suffer in the past few quarters, as the anticipated demand for new transmitters has not materialized as hoped. Tim Thorsteinson, president of the Harris Broadcast Communications Division, said the business is about one-third of what it was the past two years. This has caused the company to begin laying off about 150 total workers at its Quincy, IL, and Mason, OH, manufacturing facilities. It's also caused the company to think about eliminating the name "Broadcast" from its current division that handles such products and systems.

Thorsteinson said Harris could meet demand with fewer people if it needed to, but other suppliers, such as those that make mask filters (necessary to switch from analog to DTV channels), might not be able to keep up. There are only two such suppliers in the country, according to Harris, and if they started next week, they would be hard pressed to meet the mandated analog shutoff.

Adrick also said that when the first wave of DTV stations began building out their digital plants in the late 1990s and early 2000, there were roughly 30 tower crews doing installations. Today, there are less than 15, scattered among all transmitter manufacturers. That's not enough to handle all of the stations that have yet to make the transition.

To bring awareness to the problem, Harris has begun an industry-wide educational effort to let stations know that they can't wait too long. They have also spent some time with FCC Commissioners, who, Adrick said, seemed surprised that the transition was so far behind schedule.

At the upcoming NAB convention, Harris will introduce its third-generation Platinum-i series UHF digital solid-state transmitter. This unit targets stations that currently use the company's Platinum analog transmitters and want a lower-cost path to digital operation. By waving a red flag about the state of the DTV transition, Harris hopes to find buyers among these smaller market stations that have yet to covert.

DVB Adds Dolby Digital Plus to IPTV Specs.

Dolby Laboratories announced the decision by the Digital Video Broadcasting Project (DVB), an industry consortium committed to designing global standards for digital TV, to include Dolby® Digital Plus audio technology as an option in the latest version of its Internet protocol television (IPTV) specifications.

These specifications (TS 102 005) outline how IPTV digital television services may be delivered to home receivers over Internet protocol connections. DVB specifications are used by the broadcast industry as a basis for designing compatible transmission products and home receivers.

“Viewers of IPTV services want home cinema-style sound, just like they get on DVD and other digital TV services,” commented Jason Power, Market Development Manager, Dolby Laboratories. “With Dolby Digital Plus now included in the DVB specifications, telecom operators can deliver the full Dolby surround sound experience at a data rate that’s practical for IPTV.”

Dolby Digital Plus (technical name: E-AC-3) is an extension of the Dolby Digital format, an audio standard for DVD-Video players worldwide, and the choice for many existing digital TV broadcasts around the world. Dolby Digital Plus provides IPTV operators with a flexible and efficient multichannel audio solution that maintains many of the advantages of Dolby Digital, such as connectivity to millions of home A/V receivers, while offering lower data rates and added features. Support for the technology is being built into the current generation of chipsets for IPTV.

Dolby Digital Plus has been included in the DVB specifications at the request of operators and electronics manufacturers within the consortium. The Dolby Digital (originally known by its technical name, AC-3) format has also been included. According to the specifications, either technology may be implemented as the sole audio format in an IPTV system. Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Digital are already also featured in DVB specifications for digital cable satellite and terrestrial transmissions (TS 101 154) and have been selected as audio formats for HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc™.

Since the industry consortium was created in 1993, the DVB specifications for digital television have been adopted throughout Australia and Europe, and in parts of Africa, North and South America, and Asia.

Competition heats up in Korean IPTV market

Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicted in the recent World Economic Forum that the internet, a flexible and interactive medium, will revolutionize traditional television, an inflexible and one-way service, within the next five years.

"I'm stunned how people aren't seeing that with TV, in five years from now, people will laugh at what we've had," Gates said.

The Microsoft chairman had already mentioned the move to merge online content and TV broadcasting, called internet protocol TV or IPTV, at the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas in January.

South Korea, a test bed for cutting-edge technologies and new IT experiments thanks to the high rate of internet use, will likely be no exception in opening a new era of digital convergence of TV and PC sets.

The heat is rising in the online-TV convergence market as businesses prepare for full commercialization.

The major broadband network providers KT and Hanaro Telecom are currently seeing the number of semi-IPTV subscribers going up in a relatively short period of time. The two services, mostly comprising video-on-demand content, are not exactly full IPTV service because they do not provide live broadcasting.

Despite the service fee of about 10,000 won a month, the number of subscribers to Hanaro Telecom's HanaTV surged to 330,000 as of Feb. 11th since its launch in July 2006, according to the company.

The number of subscribers to KT's MegapassTV, another video-on-demand TV service which is only available for homes equipped with a much faster optical LAN network, has surpassed 30,000 in January, according to KT.

Besides the broadband network operators, NHN, operator of the nation's largest internet search portal Naver, has just announced that it will also enter the IPTV market.

NHN recently created a new team to search for platform alliances with IPTV content developers and communications businesses, NHN said last week.

"We created a team that would propel digital convergence. Our service in the upcoming IPTV market will be centered on online search and online gaming on TV, just as we do on the internet. An outline of a scheme regarding related IPTV business will come out within this year," said Lee Kyung-ryul, an NHN spokesman.

Experts say NHN's entry into the IPTV market will ignite a new competition between NHN and Daum Communications, the operators of No. 1 and 2 internet portals in Korea.

However, full commercialization of the online TV is expected to be further delayed due to the ongoing tug of war between the broadcast and communications industries on legal frame and regulations.

The broadcast industry and its regulator Korean Broadcasting Commission argue the IPTV market should be regulated under a broadcasting law. The communications industry and its regulator Ministry of Information and Communication assert it should be under the communications category because broadcasting regulations are very strict and difficult for large companies to abide by.

At a meeting last week of a broadcast-telecom convergence promotion committee, which comprises the information minister, KBC chairman and industry experts, the committee put off decisions on key issues such as whether broadband network providers like KT should enter into the IPTV market by creating a subsidiary unit just as SK Telecom did when they launched satellite digital multimedia broadcasting service with its unit TU Media.

"If a giant network operator like KT directly enters into the IPTV business, the cost structure - payment for access to the network and traffic use - will be unclear, thus difficult to regulate," said Ku Bon-jun, an official at the Korean Broadcasting Commission.

"In many overseas countries, ITPV is considered just like Cable TVs under broadcast regulations. But we will try our best to agree on the key issues by late this month," Ku said.

On the same day, the Information Ministry, announcing the ministry's 10 major plans for 2007, said it will take the initiative in commercializing IPTV service this year, .

"IPTV should be commercialized as soon as possible because it is not only important for the Koreans but for the entire industry," Vice Information Minister Yoo Young-hwan said.

The Information Ministry hopes to submit a legislative bill on IPTV in the regular National Assembly session in April.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

XM, Sirius Announce $13B Merger

Atter months of speculation, the two major satellite radio companies have made it official. XM and Sirius Satellite Radio have announced a planned all-stock merger that they say will create a satellite radio company valued at $13 billion, with debt of $1.6 billion.

XM shareholders each get 4.6 shares of Sirius common stock for each share of XM stock. Combined, the companieclaim 2006 revenues of $1.5 billion and approximately 14 million subs.

Mel Karmazin, CEO of Sirius, will be CEO of the new company, with Gary Parsons, XM Chairman, becoming chairman.

Hugh Panero, CEO of XM, will continuethat post until the merger closes.

The deal could run into some trouble at the FCC, however, where Chairman Kevin Martin has said that FCC rules prohibit the satellite licenses of Sirius and XM to be held by the same company.

If the deal can secure the approval of the FCC and other regulatory agencies, it is expected to close by the end of the year.

Media General Jan. Revenues Up

Media General, Inc. reported January 2007 total revenues of $80.7 million, a 4.7 percent increase from January 2006, including the revenues of four NBC television stations acquired June 26, 2006.

In the Broadcast Division, total revenues increased 30.2 percent, including the new stations. Same-store Broadcast revenues increased 1.2 percent. Gross time sales increased $7.8 million, or 35.2 percent, including the new stations, and increased 3.3 percent on a same-store basis. The same- store increases mostly reflected the benefit of Super Bowl-related advertising on the company's nine CBS stations.

FCC Must End Local HDTV Disputes

The battle over local signals threatens to slowdown sales of High-Definition TVs, according to this report by Phillip Swann at SCRI's online partner, TV Predicitons.

The Federal Communications Commission must act soon to end disputes between local stations and TV providers over High-Definition signals.

If it doesn't, high-def set sales will begin to decline and the nation's plan to switch to Digital TV signals on February 17, 2009 could be imperiled.

For those not familiar with this issue, here is some background:

In several cities, including Tucson, St. Louis, New Orleans, Providence, Norfolk, Albuquerque and Indianapolis, local TV stations are refusing to let cable and/or satellite operators offer their high-def signals.

The local stations, which are owned by broadcast groups such as Belo, Sinclair and LIN TV, are demanding that the TV providers pay them for the right to carry the HD feeds.

The TV providers are refusing the demand, saying the signals are available for free via off-air antennas. They also note that local stations in the past have not asked for cash payments for analog signals.

Because of the impasse, however, millions of cable and satellite subscribers are unable to watch their local channels in high-def.

For instance, DIRECTV rolled out local HD service in dozens of cities in 2006, but was unable to provide all four broadcast networks in high-def in most markets. Cox Cable in Tucson can't provide the Fox HD signal. Cox in Providence, Rhode Island is unable to offer CBS and Fox in high-def.

The battle is likely to escalate in the coming months with CBS saying publicly that it will demand fees for high-def signals at its owned and operated stations.

Until now, the FCC has said it does not have the authority to intervene in the disputes. But the agency's position is both legally and politically suspect. By staying out of the battle, the FCC is effectively siding with the local stations who have time on their side. They can sit back and wait for the cable and satellite operators to concede after getting blitzed with complaints from customers.

This is exactly what happened earlier this month when Mediacom Cable finally agreed to pay Sinclair Broadcasting for its standard and high-def signals shortly before the Super Bowl. Two U.S. senators urged the FCC to end the dispute, even ordering binding arbitration if necessary. But the agency refused. Consequently, Mediacom had to buckle or it would alienate the vast Super Bowl audience.

If the FCC continues to sit on the sidelines, millions more Americans will be unable to watch their favorite channels in HD, at least for a period of time. This will make high-def owners angry and frustrated, causing them to discourage their friends and neighbors from buying Digital/HDTV sets.

And that will make it more difficult for the federal government to get everyone on board for the transition to Digital TV in 2009.

The FCC should move immediately to order a binding arbitration in any local dispute over high-def signals. If the local station and TV provider can't reach an agreement, they will have to agree to the arbitration rather than cavalierly pulling the high-def signals off the air.

This solution would be fair to both parties -- the neutral arbitrator can decide what the local station is entitled to -- and it would protect HDTV owners from losing their signals.

NAB: No Arbitration In Local-Cable HD Disputes

The National Association of Broadcasters says it opposes binding arbitration in disputes between local TV stations and TV providers over standard and High-Definition signals.

"We think the current retransmission consent process has been extremely successful in resolving nearly every negotiation between a local broadcaster and a cable operator since 1992. We do not believe further modifications to the law are warranted, just as the FCC found a year and a half ago," the NAB said in a statement released to TVPredictions.com

However, local TV stations are now preventing cable and satellite operators in several states from offering their high-def signals. Consequently, millions of cable and satellite viewers are unable to watch local high-def channels.

The broadcasters are demanding cash payments for the signals, but the TV providers are refusing to pay saying the signals are available for free via an off-air antenna.

By federal law, a TV provider must get a local station's permission to carry its signals.

To help end the disputes, TVPredictions.com this week published an editorial calling on the FCC to order a binding arbitration when the two sides can not agree. The binding arbitration, the editorial said, would ensure that high-def cable and satellite viewers would never lose their signals.

In the recent battle between Sinclair Broadcasting and Mediacom Cable over the carriage of standard and high-def signals, the FCC's Media Bureau and Mediacom supported a binding arbitration to resolve the matter.

However, the FCC refused to order the arbitration and Mediacom finally agreed to pay Sinclair shortly before the Super Bowl. Prior to the agreement, Sinclair had forced Mediacom to pull 23 local TV stations from its lineups.

Local TV stations are likely to oppose binding arbitration because they believe they can get more money in a negotiation. CBS, which is expected to demand signal fees for its owned and operated stations, urged the FCC to oppose arbitration in the Sinclair-Mediacom dispute.

Sinclair said today that it expects to collect $48 million this year from TV services to carry its HDTV and standard definition fees.

The company, which owns dozens of local stations, also urged fellow station owners to dig in their heels in the battle to force cable and satellite operators to pay for their signals.

"Now is certainly a significant time in history, and point in time in history, when we as a company have been able to get what we think is the beginning of the fair value of our content," Sinclair CEO David Smith said in an investors call, according to Multichannel News. "Having said that, it is now incumbent upon the rest of the industry to kind of recognize what we've been able to accomplish and kind of step up and start asking for what their due is."

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COMPANY NEWS

Focus Enhancements Q4 Revenue up 69%

Focus Enhancements, Inc., a worldwide leader in semiconductor technology for the Ultra Wideband (UWB) wireless and PC-to-TV conversion markets and in video production, announced preliminary financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2006.

Total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2006 is expected to be approximately $10.3 million, which represents a 69 percent increase over the $6.1 million reported in the same period last year.

“We met our quarterly and annual revenue expectations based on the successful execution on our strategy to further penetrate the portable media player (PMP) market, which was complemented by the strong performance of our FireStore and ProxSys® products,” said Brett Moyer, CEO of Focus Enhancements. “Our TV-out semiconductor technology is powering many of the leading PMPs, and our products continue to be designed into more portable media devices. In addition, we are working to commercialize our leading UWB chipset to enable wireless video connectivity, for which we anticipate revenue in the third quarter of 2007. Based on our product pipeline and the strong reception our products received at CES in January, we believe we are well positioned for further growth in 2007.”

These expected results are preliminary. There can be no assurance that the company's final results for the fourth quarter and full year 2006 will be within the range specified above. Final results for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2006 are expected to be reported on March 1, 2007 at which time management will conduct a conference call.

ARRIS Launches Voluntary Tender Offer for TANDBERG Television

ARRIS Group, Inc. launched a tender offer for the shares of TANDBERG Television ASA. The agreement to launch the tender offer of TANDBERG Television was previously announced on 15 January 2007. The transaction provides ARRIS the depth and scale to prosper in the high growth video content creation, management and delivery markets to complement its market leadership in voice over IP and high speed data solutions. The offer values TANDBERG Television at approximately US $1.2 billion at the exchange rate as of 12 January 2007.

The Board of Directors of TANDBERG Television has unanimously recommended the offer to its shareholders and further suggested that the shareholders accept the ARRIS offer.

Combining the resources and experience of ARRIS and TANDBERG Television will produce a new company, unique in its ability to enable voice, video and data over any network and to any consumer device. ARRIS is a leading global provider of VoIP, data broadband network equipment and consumer premises devices; TANDBERG Television is a market leader in both the digital video sector and the global video processing market with award-winning solutions for advanced compression, on-demand and interactive television.

ARRIS Q4 Revenue up 29%

ARRIS Group, Inc., a global communications technology leader in the development of advanced cable telephony and next generation high-speed data solutions across the broadband local access network, announced preliminary and unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2006.

Revenues for the fourth quarter 2006 were $234.6 million. Revenues grew by $53.3 million or 29.4%, and by $6.0 million or 2.6%, as compared to the fourth quarter 2005 and the third quarter 2006, respectively. For the full year 2006, revenues were $891.6 million, up $211.2 million or approximately 31.0% as compared to full year 2005 revenues. The revenue growth was a result of continuing demand for the Company's Voice over IP (VoIP) and high speed data products as cable operators aggressively sign up customers for the "triple-play" offerings of voice, data and video services.

"The year 2006 was truly an outstanding year for ARRIS," said Bob Stanzione, ARRIS Chairman & CEO. "We executed well on all fronts. We maintained our technology leadership in voice over IP and high speed data, we expanded our market penetration, we strengthened our cash position to enable strategic acquisitions and we delivered on our promises to our customers by bringing new innovative, revenue-generating products to the market with a pipeline of new products to meet their future needs. Our results clearly indicate that our strategy for growth is working and I am confident that our technical and operational excellence positions us well for a very bright future."

Stanzione continued, "On January 15, 2007, we announced our intent to acquire TANDBERG Television for approximately $1.2 billion via a tender offer thereby fulfilling our long term strategic goal of expanding our product offerings and the addressable markets we serve. The tender offer was launched this morning and the transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2007. We could not be more pleased with the people, products, expertise and market positions this combination brings. This is truly a case of one plus one equals three for our customers, our employees and our stockholders, both old and new."

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PRODUCT NEWS

HDMI to HD-SDI Converter from Convergent

Convergent Design began shipments of the first HDMI U HD/SD-SDI (video + audio + time-code) converter box aimed at HDV and AVCHD camcorders/decks and other unencrypted HDMI sources.

HDMI, built on DVI technology, transmits uncompressed digital HD or SD video (YCbCr 4:2:2 or RGB 4:4:4) and up to 8-channels of PCM audio over a single cable at resolutions exceeding 1080p. HDMI, with projected worldwide shipments of over 100 million devices this year, is the new consumer-electronics standard for interconnecting flat panel screens, set-top boxes and DVD players. In addition, Sony, JVC, Canon and Panasonic now (or will soon) offer HDV and/or AVCHD camcorders/decks with HDMI output, thereby bringing HDMI into the professional video market.

The HD-Connect MI converter accepts uncompressed HD/SD video (and digital audio) from an unencrypted HDMI source, retrieves the time-code from the 1394 connection, and multiplexes the video + audio + time-code into an HD/SD-SDI stream (at 1080i50/60, 720p50/60, or 486i/576i resolution). This versatile product also features RS-422 to 1394 deck-control translation which has been extensively tested on Avid, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, Quantel and Media100 systems. This deck control translation allows offline / online batch capture to an NLE.

The HD-Connect MI offers professional features, including full dynamic range of video (or clamped to legal limits), color bar output on loss of HDMI input, and configurable deck control (including time-code offsets). Also, the low processing latency (60 uS), and low power-consumption (2.5W), combined with the small size (4.5 x 3.5 x 1), makes the HD-Connect MI a perfect companion for live-event and studio projects.

When operating in live-camera mode, the user can enjoy the ultimate video quality attainable from a given camcorder, since this video stream has never been compressed (its straight off the CCD/CMOS sensor). Greenscreen applications are enhanced with the full 4:2:2 color resolution from the live-camera capture.

Video professionals can now add HD/SD-SDI and RS-422 deck control to their existing HDV decks and camcorders. For example, JVC BR-HD50 and Sony HVR-M25 users can add these professional outputs at 1/4 to 1/2 the cost of competing solutions. Additional system cost reductions are realized by utilizing the built-in ability to perform 1080i to 720p cross conversion or downscale to SD. DV tapes can also be played-back as a SD-SDI stream. Finally, tape dubs from HDV, DV or AVCHD U HDCAM, D5, DVCProHD, BetaSX, or DigiBeta entail only a single coax connection via the HD/SD-SDI cable that carries video, audio and time-code.

HDV and AVCHD editors now have affordable tools to convert long-GOP compressed formats into easily editable I-Frame-based CODECs such as DVCProHD and DNxHD. These real-time conversions can eliminate all the headaches and long render times associated with native-format editing. Rather than changing their workflow, users can simply upgrade their connection.

HD-Connect MI carries an MSRP of $695 (USD) and is available for immediate delivery.

Joost internet TV software for Intel Macs

Joost offering a limited beta program for its software to users with Intel-based Macs. The interactive software is used to distribute TV shows and other forms of video over the Web using peer-to-peer tv technology, which leverages the computer of users viewing video content to distribute the content to others. Created by founders of Skype and Kazaa, Joost claims to offer a new way of watching TV on the internet: "We're in the process of making it as TV-like as we can, with programmes, channels and adverts." Users can search for programming and channels, which are currently much like playlists of videos that allow users to change channels. Users can also use an built-in program guide to choose a channel or a video, the company says users may also see an occasional advertisement. Joost also includes social networking features, such as integrated chat.

Founded last year as The Venice Project, the company previously offered a limited group of Mac users access to early alpha builds for testing, but said that it was able to use the cross-platform support within the Mozilla code-base to help speed Mac development.

"We were able to leverage both the tremendous work done by the Client team for the Windows version as well as the cross-platform power of Mozilla," company representatives wrote. "As a result, we have a Mac version that looks very much like Joost for Windows, while behaving very much like a Mac application."

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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

Sarah Smith Appointed President and General Manager of KETV

Sarah Smith, a broadcast television executive whose career has included senior sales positions in Dallas and Los Angeles, is joining Hearst-Argyle Television as President and General Manager of KETV, the ABC affiliate in Omaha, Nebraska. She succeeds Joel Vilmenay, who has been appointed president and general manager of WDSU-TV, the company's NBC affiliate in New Orleans.

Most recently Smith served as Vice President/General Manager of both KRCR- TV and KAEF-TV, the BlueStone Television stations serving the Chico-Redding and Eureka, California markets, respectively. During her tenure, KRCR became the local ratings leader while KAEF substantially expanded its audience. Before that, she served with the Belo television group, most recently as General Sales Manager for KVUE-TV, Austin, Texas and, previously, as National Sales Manager for WFAA-TV, Dallas, and KXTV, Sacramento. She also was Local Sales Manager for LIN Television's WISH-TV, Indianapolis. She began her career as a Local Account Executive for Belo's KOTV, Tulsa, before moving to Los Angeles as an Account Executive for the national broadcast sales representation firm Telerep, where she was responsible for spot sales for 22 TV stations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois.

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RESEARCH NEWS

  • SCRI Data SCRI Data 2007-2008 Broadcast/Pro Video Product Reports

    The 2007 - 2008 US Broadcast/Pro Video Product Reports are currently being published to allow equipment manufacturers time to review the data prior to NAB 2007. Product Reports include a written category overview, analysis and future forecasts, plus quantitative summary tables and charts with annual purchases for 2006, 2007 and 2008 (units and dollars), purchase rates, ASPs ($), brand shares, and other breakouts by product type etc. All data is shown in total as well as by each of the six vertical user markets.

    Product Reports are available for the following product categories: Camcorders; Camera Mounting Systems ; Cameras ; Character / Logo Generators ; Clip/Still Stores ; Composite/Component Encoders/Decoders ; Digital Effects Processors ; Non-Linear Editing Systems ; Graphics & Effects Software ; Graphics & Effects Workstations / Systems ; Master Control Switchers Small ; Production/Post Switchers Small ; RAID Video Storage ; Routing Switchers Small ; Standards / Formats Convertors TBC's / Frame Synchronizers ; Telecine Equipment ; Terminal Equipment ; Up/Down Converters ; Video Compression Encoders: Video Disk Recorders ; Video Monitors \ ; Video Servers \ ; Video Test & Measurement : VTRs

    Contact SCRI's Research Director, Des Chaskelson (des_chas@scri.com) for more information and/or to place an order.

    OTHER RESEARCH NEWS

    STB market still up on IPTV

    The global set top box market has been experiencing significant growth, largely due to IPTV. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, ‘World Set Top Box Semiconductors Markets’, reveals that this market earned revenues of $1.77 billion in 2006 and forecasts it to reach $4.23 billion in 2010."The introduction of IPTV functionalities such as digital video recording presents a great opportunity for the growth of the set top box market," says analyst Natarajan Krishnamurthy. "In addition, growing penetration of HDTVs into the consumer electronics market has created a strong need for set top boxes to deliver better-quality video."

    "The key challenge in set top box technology is to meet the Motion Pictures Expert Group (MPEG)-4 HD requirements," says Krishnamurthy. "Since MPEG-4 HD is expected to have more functionality, OEMs should consider transitioning set top box technology from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4, particularly since compression coding techniques are increasingly moving toward providing better- quality video."

    US Broadband Penetration to exceed 50% in 2007

    Residential subscriptions to broadband Internet services surged 20 per cent in 2006 to exceed 50 million US households, according to "Digital Lifestyles: 2007 Outlook," a new study from Parks Associates. The report estimates US residential broadband subscriptions will surpass 60 million households by year-end 2007, accounting for 55 per cent of all US households.

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