Insider Reporter


Insider Report

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

w/e January 27, 2008 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2008

INDEX

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

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

FCC tests broadband-over-TV

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed plans to resume testing prototypes of devices designed to transmit broadband service over unused portions of the broadcast TV spectrum.

The FCC last summer tried to test prototypes from Microsoft and Philips, but problems with the prototypes themselves and lack of success outside the laboratory resulted in the tests being abandoned. Later this month, the FCC will try again, testing prototypes from both Microsoft and Philips, as well as Motorola and Adaptrum.

Should the tests prove successful, device makers say they would plan to introduce commercial products after the switch to digital TV broadcasting in early 2009

China DTV Gains Momentum

The General Office of the State Council in China has issued "Policies to Encourage DTV Industry Development" to six ministries, giving strong support to the development of digital TV, and highlighting areas where telecom and broadcasting players can converge.

The six ministries include the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information Industry (MII), State Administration of Taxation, and State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT). The Policies will be implemented from February 1, 2008.

The policies re-state the official goals for DTV development: to broadcast the Olympic Games in digital high-definition in 2008; complete cable DTV conversion in most areas at and above the county level by 2010, and shut down analogue signals by 2015; realise the strategic shift of the domestic TV set industry from analogue to digital and boost annual sales revenue from digital TV sets.

CES 2008 Global Stage for New Technology Innovation

The International CES was once again the world’s biggest platform for new technology and devices from the biggest innovators. For 41 years, the International CES® has been the must-attend event for new technology: almost every major consumer electronics advance has been launched at CES, including the VCR, CD player, DVD player, HDTV, satellite radio, Xbox, HDTV DVR and IPTV. Many of the more then 20,000 products launched at last week’s 2008 International CES, the world’s largest technology tradeshow, will soon be on store shelves and in consumers’ living rooms.

“No event on earth launches more new technology and devices than the International CES. This year was bigger than ever, with the latest innovations, from new next-generation digital televisions, including OLEDs, 150-inch plasmas and laser TVs, to wireless HD, the coolest new multimedia phones and ultra mobile PCs, all on display,” said Gary Shapiro, the president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, the producer of the International CES. “Across our 2700 exhibitors and 30 product categories, CES was the place to see it all last week and to preview what amazing products are coming to store shelves in 2008. More than ever before, the show highlights came from an extremely wide array of CES exhibitors.”

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Fear of Recession Dominant Concern Among Global CEOs

CEOs' confidence about prospects for business declined for the first time since the 2003 survey and fear of a global recession emerged as the major threat to growth in PricewaterhouseCoopers 11th Annual Global CEO Survey.

Compared to last year, possible economic downturn is the only risk factor to increase in concern among CEOs. All other risks to growth -- including energy supply, global climate change, and terrorism -- declined as business threats. Over-regulation and availability of talent were also top CEO concerns.

The percentage of CEOs who said they are "very confident" about revenue growth over the next 12 months fell two percentage points from last year to 50%. CEOs, however, remained nearly twice as confident as they were in 2003. The survey results were released today at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

The overall drop in business confidence was most pronounced in North America, where just 35% of CEOs said they were 'very confident' about growth, compared to 53% last year, a decline of more than a third.

Confidence among Western European CEOs also declined to 44%, down by eight percentage points. In contrast, CEO confidence in the surging economies of Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe, increased, rising to about 55% in each of those regions. This growing confidence is especially strong in China and India -- where 73% and 90% of CEOs, respectively, were "very confident" about the prospects for growth in the next 12 months.

This year's results marked the first time since the survey's inception 11 years ago, that CEOs cited a potential economic downturn as the major threat to their business growth prospects. Until now, CEOs had consistently rated over-regulation as the primary risk to their business. Terrorism and the threat of pandemic, once major CEO concerns were cited by only 31% and 28% of respondents, respectively.

"The credit crunch and the slowdown in the Western economies have created a clear split in the confidence levels of CEOs around the world," said Samuel A. DiPiazza, Global CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"The possibility that the downturn could worsen into recession looms large for CEOs in established economies like the U.S. and Western Europe. In the newly-emerged economies CEO confidence remains strong, perhaps because they have experienced nothing but rapid expansion for a decade or more."

HBO goes Broadband

This week HBO launches HBO On Broadband, a service that allows subscribers to stream HBO online and temporarily download titles on-demand. The service will be offered initially as a free add-on for Time Warner Cable subscribers in the mid West. Time Warner has 576,000 subscribers -- 365,000 of them digital -- in the Milwaukee area where HBO On Broadband is launching.

Initially available only to HBO subscribers, HBO On Demand offers a 700-kilobit-per-second live stream of HBO’s main feed. There’s also a rotating mix of theatrical titles and original programming -- some 400 total hours per month -- that users can download and keep on their hard drives for up to four weeks.

"This is part of our overall strategy of enhancing value for HBO subscribers by providing greater access to content," said HBO co-president Eric Kessler, who likened the launch to the company’s rollout of HBO On Demand in 2001.

The new service allows users to assemble and manage a library of downloads, as well as set parental controls, through a Microsoft Windows-based application. HBO is developing a separate Mac application and is looking at offering the service on Windows-based portable devices down the road.

YouTube dominates online video

ComScore has released its Video Metrix report for November 2007, indicating that more than 75 per cent of US Internet users watched a video online (including both streaming video and downloads), averaging 3.25 hours of video per person during the month.

Google sites, which includes YouTube, increased its video market share by more than two per cent to 31.3 per cent from October to November. Americans viewed nearly 9.5 billion online videos in November, with Google once again ranking as the top US video property with 3 billion videos viewed (31.3 per cent share of all videos viewed), 2.9 billion of which occurred at YouTube (30.6 per cent). Fox Interactive Media ranked second with 419 million videos viewed (4.4 per cent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 328 million (3.5 per cent) and Viacom Digital with 304 million (2.6 per cent).

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COMPANY NEWS

Avid Q4 Results & Conference Call

Avid Technology, Inc. will hold a conference call to review its financial results for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2007, on Thursday, January 31, 2008, at 5:00 p.m. EST, following the dissemination of its press release on those results.

The dial-in number is: 719.457.2617 ; The replay number is: 719.457.0820 ; The confirmation code ; and replay passcode are: 3538405.

The call will also be available via live audio webcast and subsequent replay on the company’s website. To listen via this alternative, go to the Investor Relations page under the About Us menu at www.avid.com.

Chyron Acquires AXIS Graphics

Chyron announced the launch of Chyron Online. The foundation for this new division is today's acquisition of AXIS Graphics, a unique proprietary web-based graphics system that has pioneered online graphics production.

"The acquisition of AXIS Graphics will enhance Chyron's business around the world. Not only does the AXIS technology integrate with our popular broadcast products, it instantly expands our reach to include non-broadcast clients like newspapers, radio stations, mobile phone and digital media producers and anyone producing content for the Internet. Chyron invented broadcast graphics and I believe that in the future this will be viewed as a major milestone in the development of digital graphics creation and workflow. Today, we launch our Online division with over 150 television station clients and with AXIS we are able to address a wide array of new growth markets around the world," added Wellesley-Wesley.

Randy Pyburn, AXIS Graphics Founder, concluded, "We are thrilled to be joining the Chyron organization. This is not only a great marriage of technologies; it will change how people build graphics for television and the Internet. Chyron is the industry leader for broadcast graphics and this technology partnership takes the AXIS service to the next level by providing a one-stop seamless platform to create, composite and distribute graphic content over the Internet for traditional and new media markets. And better yet, we will save our clients money. This is an awesome combination that is a game changer for the industry."

Under the asset purchase agreement, Chyron acquired assets and liabilities of AXIS Graphics for an aggregate consideration of $3 million consisting of $1 million cash, $1 million worth of restricted common stock resulting in the issuance of 195,313 shares, and a $1 million debenture due December 31, 2008.

Dolby Labs Q1 '08 Conference Call and Webcast

Dolby Laboratories, Inc. will release financial results for the first quarter of its 2008 fiscal year after the close of regular trading on Thursday, January 31, 2008.

Members of Dolby management will lead a conference call open to all interested parties to discuss Dolby Laboratories’ Q1 fiscal 2008 financial results at 2:00 p.m. PT/5:00 p.m. ET, Thursday, January 31, 2008.

Access to the teleconference will be available over the Internet from http://investor.dolby.com/medialist.cfm or by dialing 800-762-8779. International callers can access the conference call at 480-629-9041.

A replay of the call will be available beginning at 5:00 p.m. PT on January 31 until 9:00 p.m. PT on February 7, 2008; dial 800-406-7325 (international callers can access the replay by dialing 303-590-3030) and enter confirmation code 3832223. An archived version of the teleconference will also be available on Dolby Laboratories’ website, www.dolby.com.

Harmonic Q4 Results & Conference Call

Harmonic Inc. announced that it plans to report its fourth quarter and year end 2007 results after market close on January 29, 2008.

Harmonic will host a conference call to discuss its financial results at 2:00 P.M. Pacific (5:00 P.M. Eastern) on January 29, 2008. A listen-only broadcast of the conference call can be accessed on the Company’s website at www.harmonicinc.com or by calling +1-706-634-9047 (conference identification code 30363329). The replay will be available after 5:00 P.M. Pacific at the same website address or by calling +1-706-645-9291 (conference identification code 30363329).

Harmonic intends to discuss financial and other statistical information on this conference call. This information will also be available on the Company’s website at www.harmonicinc.com either in the press release related to the above broadcast, by accessing the listen-only broadcast described above or by accessing the replay of the broadcast described above.

TANDBERG Q4 Webcast/Conference Call

TANDBERG® has scheduled a live webcast/conference call January 31, 2008 at 11:00 AM (Eastern Time) or 5:00 PM (Central European Time) to discuss fiscal fourth quarter 2007 results. A PowerPoint presentation will accompany the webcast/conference call.

To participate via internet: https://tandbergevents.webex.com

To participate via telephone: +1.800.591.6948 (U.S. callers) ; 0808 2347616 (U.K. callers) ; +1.617.614.4912 (international) ; Passcode: TANDBERG .

Participants are encouraged to download the streaming media software required for the Internet broadcast in advance of the call. An online archive of the broadcast will be available within one business day.

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PRODUCT NEWS

Sony HD & DV Production at Sundance

Digital video production and Sony high-definition solutions were co-headliners at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

More than half of this year's festival entries were shot digitally, with many of those originated in a Sony HD video format. In addition, each of the Sundance screening venues is equipped for digital playback in the company's HDCAM(R) format.

"Sony has championed video production for moviemakers, first from analog to digital, and then from standard- to high-definition technology," said Ian Calderon, director of digital initiatives for The Sundance Institute. "The independent community continues to embrace the creative and economic advantages of shooting and recording digitally.

"With Sony's recent introductions of its HDV and XDCAM HD(TM) systems, bringing high-end capabilities down to more affordable costs, I expect to see many more independent HD features in the coming years."

At the festival's "New Frontier on Main" technology exhibit, Sony is highlighting its lineup of "affordable HD" formats that offer movie-makers a range of production options for telling their stories more creatively and effectively. These include Sony's XDCAM EX PMW-EX1 solid-state memory camcorder, and its newest HDV(TM) camcorders, models HVR-Z7U and HVR-S270U.

"It's clear that the digital and HD revolutions have made their marks in the world of independent cinematography," said Paul Foschino, senior marketing manager for professional video and audio at Sony Electronics.

Omneon & Pro-Bel Join Forces

Omneon, Inc. and Pro-Bel have announced that the two companies have worked together to integrate Pro-Bel’s Morpheus automation and media management systems with Omneon MediaGrid™ active storage and Omneon media server products. The combined solution gives broadcasters an enterprisewide storage and playout infrastructure under the control of a single management system, greatly improving workflow and overall efficiency.

“The Morpheus family of automation and media management products was designed to eliminate as much manual intervention as possible, with the philosophy that once content has entered the broadcast facility, the operation should be able to run itself,” said Gordon Hadley, partner manager for Pro-Bel. “With its media-aware storage, the Omneon MediaGrid helps turn that philosophy into reality.”

“The recent growth of distribution channels and digital content requires that broadcast operations implement intelligent solutions for storage and management of content as it moves through a facility,” said Geoff Stedman, vice president of worldwide marketing for Omneon. “MediaGrid provides facilities with immediate access to a vast pool of centralized content, and Pro-Bel’s Morpheus gives them the ability to move and track those materials with the assurance that they will be available when needed.”

Atlantic Broadband Powers New VOD Service Using Harmonic's NSG 9000 Universal EdgeQAM

Harmonic Inc. announced that Atlantic Broadband, a top 20 cable operator in the United States with more than 285,000 subscribers, has implemented the Narrowcast Services Gateway™ (NSG) 9000 universal edgeQAM for a new video-on-demand (VOD) service. Atlantic Broadband’s new VOD service offers customers in Delaware and Maryland a range of high quality video assets for anytime viewing, enhancing the user experience and providing Atlantic Broadband with incremental revenue opportunities.

“Adding VOD was a key milestone in order to take our service to the next level,” said Al Kuolas, CTO of Atlantic Broadband. “Harmonic is a trusted provider of HFC transport solutions for Atlantic Broadband’s video network, and the NSG 9000 platform offers superior RF performance, flexibility and scalability for our on-demand service.”

“Atlantic Broadband’s new on-demand service makes it possible to offer customers an expanded range of programming options and provides an important source of new revenue,” said Gil Katz, Director of Cable Solutions and Strategy for Harmonic Inc. “In order to effectively compete against direct-to-home satellite and emerging telco video services, it is critical for Atlantic Broadband to differentiate by providing a high quality and compelling VOD offering alongside their broadcast video, high-speed data and voice services. The NSG 9000 universal edgeQAM provides a solid and scalable platform for VOD edge processing and other applications.”

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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

Industry Looses Chadwell O'Connor

The industry mourns the passing of the father of the counterbalanced fluid drag camera head, Chadwell O'Connor. From his birth on October 9, 1914 to his death on September 5, 2007, Chad O'Connor followed two passions - steam engines and camera support.

In the late 1940s, while documenting steam engines for his own home movies, O'Connor designed and built a fluid head camera support that would allow his lightweight camera to follow the moving trains without jumps, and distracting starts and stops. In the early 1950s, while he was filming trains at Glendale Station another steam train enthusiast, named Walt Disney, stopped to ask a few questions. He liked the concept, and asked Chad to build a fluid head that would solve the pan and tilt problems he was having on his new film, The Living Desert.

This meeting turned into a life-long friendship, a new direction in O'Connor's life - and a new chapter in movie making-history.

Concurrently Chad's involvement with steam power and camera technology flourished. He enjoyed working with cameramen by inventing solutions for their needs. His company OConnor Engineering produced thousands of OConnor fluid heads and tripods from the ever-popular OConnor 100, which is so rugged it is still a staple of camerawork worldwide, to the new OConnor 120EX, that was made to complement today's high-end film and television production.

So influential were Chadwell O'Connor's contributions that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored him with a 1976 Sci-Tech Award, and an Oscar® in 1993. In 1994, the Society of Operating Cameramen presented him with a Technical Achievement Award.

Chadwell O'Connor will be missed and remembered - by the train world ---- and every time a cameraman attaches a camera to that unassuming but powerful - OConnor Fluid Head.

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RESEARCH NEWS

SCRI RESEARCH NEWS

  • NEW: 2007-2009 HDTV / Digital Trends Report This extensive 75 page report includes an Executive Summary, followed by an analysis, charts and tables of how the broadcast / professional video marketplace equipment endusers respond to the key HDTV / Digital Video Trends -- click to view table of contents

  • IPTV / Mobile TV Report: now available, 14 page Executive Summary and Analysis, with over 120 pages of articles and reports from online sources as well as SCRI Insider Reports. Cost is $995, or $695 for current SCRI Insider Report subscribers and clients. Contactdes_chas@scri.com for more info.

  • Broadcast/Pro Video Product Reports. Tracking purchase history (2006), purchase plans (2007 & 2008), brand shares, etc. for each of twenty five specific product types, from Camcorders to VTRs.

  • Broadcast/Pro Video Macro Industry Overview Report. Over 50 pages of analysis and information on the state-of-the-industry compiled from secondary online research sources including industry news sites, manufacturers sites, as well as SCRI's own weekly online News Briefs and Insider Reports.

  • Broadcast/Pro Video Micro Quantitative Product Data Report. 23-page report containing quantitative data tables, for all six verical end-user markets, and all of the 25 Product categories, as well as in total, with summary tables from 2002- 2008.

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