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Insider Report

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

w/e January 28, 2006 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2004

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Technology News | Industry News | Company News |
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TECHNOLOGY NEWS

IPTV Growth Driver for equipment in 2007

The number of subscribers to Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services worldwide is expected to nearly triple in 2007, helping to drive a strong increase in sales of wired communications equipment and related semiconductors for the year, iSuppli Corp. predicts.

"The year 2007 represents an inflection point for IPTV where the technology will no longer be only for early adopters but those in mass market will also jump on board," said Steve Rago, principal analyst for networking and optical communications at iSuppli. "This IPTV transition is occurring simultaneously around the world, so everywhere regionally will see an increase in subscribers."

Global IPTV subscribers will reach 14.5 million in 2007, up 192.4 per cent from 4.9 million in 2006, iSuppli predicts. By 2010, worldwide IPTV subscribers will amount to 63 million, Rago said. As the number of subscribers grows, companies will spend more on equipment that can increase network bandwidth and capacity. Partly because of the IPTV surge, global factory revenue for wired communications gear will rise to $101.4 billion in 2007, up 7.2 percent from $94.6 billion in 2006. This growth rate is nearly double the 3.7 per cent expansion in 2006.

Moving up another level of the supply chain, semiconductor sales to the wired communications gear market also will benefit from IPTV's ascendance. Global revenue for wired-communications-oriented semiconductors will expand to $19.4 billion in 2007, up 18.3 percent from $16.4 billion in 2006. In comparison, chip revenue to the wired gear market grew by only 10 percent in 2006.

China IPTV to exceed 23m subscribers by 2012

According to ABI Research; "The growth of IPTV will remain modest for now, and take off only after 2008. Adoption will be boosted by major events such as the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and then the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai."

At the same time, China’s flourishing broadband environment paves the way for IPTV to reach out to the potentially huge addressable market. ABI forecasts the IPTV take-up in mainland China to pass the 23 million subscriber mark by 2012.

CES Showcases Cable New Technology

With more than a dozen manufacturers displaying two-way “plug-and-play” TVs, set-top boxes and other cable-ready devices, the just-completed 2007 Consumer Electronics Show marked a significant milestone in the cable industry’s efforts to bring interactive digital TV services to consumers that will not require the use of a leased set-top box.

The new plug-and-play devices will use the cable industry’s software platform – called OCAP™ or OpenCable™ Applications Platform – to facilitate the delivery of interactive applications and services. Major cable operators are rolling out support for the new OCAP platform on their networks in 2007 and 2008, setting the stage for wide availability of the new two-way plug-and-play devices.

In addition to the two-way devices, a new technology interface that will allow consumers for the first time to view high-definition and other digital cable content on new Microsoft Vista-enabled personal computers was also displayed at CES. The cable interface for personal computers – called OCUR or OpenCable Unidirectional Receiver – will initially support one-way services (e.g., linear programming) while a two-way interactive interface is being developed.

“The 2007 CES demonstrated how far cable and our manufacturer partners have come in preparing to bring consumers a whole new array of interactive TV devices,” said Dr. Richard R. Green, President and CEO of CableLabs®. “This progress clearly shows that the world’s largest consumer electronics manufacturers are adopting and developing products that incorporate cable’s interactive TV software,” he added.

Thirteen companies displayed two-way plug-and-play cable-ready products at CES this year

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INDUSTRY NEWS

BBC, Google deal

The BBC is in advanced negotiations with Google to make programming available via a branded channel on its video-sharing site, says the Guardian. It reports that the BBC are keen that the deal is expanded to include putting content on Google-owned YouTube. BBC Worldwide is understood to be looking at commercial options for the agreement, such as a share on contextual advertising that will run alongside BBC content.

Last summer Google rolled out eight country-specific versions of Google Video in Europe and signed up content partners including C4, ITN, IMG Media, A&E, and Buena Visa International Europe. Under the original deals the partners have used the platform for promotional purposes.

It is unclear if BBC Worldwide's deal will include access to the US version of Google Video, which has pay-per-view and pay-per-download options. Several large broadcasters in the US have similar arrangements with YouTube including CBS, which claimed 200,000 extra viewers for The Late Show with David Letterman after clips were posted on the site.

According to reports the confusion of running two brands and operations in the video-sharing sector is close to being "resolved" by Google chiefs

Canadian Cable firms demand review of TV production fund

Two of Canada's largest cable companies have suspended payments to the Canadian Television Fund (CTF) and are demanding a review of the fund by Heritage Minister Bev Oda.

Vidéotron Ltee, a unit of Montreal-based Quebecor, suspended its monthly payments to the fund on Tuesday, the company announced in a public statement.

Calgary's Shaw Communications Inc. announced its intention to stop supporting the fund in December.

The CTF, created in 1996, supports Canadian productions for television and has helped fund shows such as Degrassi: The Next Generation, Naked Josh and This is Wonderland.

Private broadcasters are required to pay monthly fees for the fund and all productions can apply for funding, though about 37 per cent of funding is allocated to the CBC.

Pierre Karl Peladeau, Quebecor's president and chief executive, has written to CTF chair Doug Barrett expressing his "deep dissatisfaction with the fund's governance, performance and direction."

Among his complaints are that the fund fails to consider productions sold through video on demand, does not consult with its private-sector contributors and gives too much to the CBC/SRC.

The CTF has an annual budget of $250 million, which is divided among French, English and aboriginal language production.

Cable firms are required to submit about five per cent of their gross revenue to the fund.

Time Warner & Sinclair Agree On HDTV

Time Warner Cable and Sinclair Broadcast Group reached agreement late last week for the carriage of Sinclair's local channels.

The pact means that Time Warner can begin offering Sinclair's local HDTV channels in several states. For instance, the cable operator on Friday added the high-def signal for WXLV, the ABC affiliate in Greensboro, North Carolina.

"When you're in the High-Definition tier, everything else is just beautiful," Pam Wheeler, of Greensboro, told the Greensboro News Record Sunday night. "And the quality (on ABC before Friday) was just lousy."

Sinclair had been threatening to pull its standard and high-def signals from Time Warner lineups unless the cable operator paid it a fee. The broadcast group, and other independently owned stations, are having similar disputes with cable operators across the country.

Mediacom Cable, for instance, is petitioning Congress and the FCC to help end its argument with Sinclair.

The cable services say they shouldn't have to pay because the local signals are available for free via off-air antennas.

In many states, cable subscribers are unable to watch their favorite shows and sports in HD because of the disagreements. In Greensboro last year, Time Warner subscribers could not watch the high-def broadcast of the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl.

"I'm glad they have (reached an agreement), for everyone's sake," Wheeler told the News-Record.

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COMPANY NEWS

Panasonic Reports on State of Industry

This report is by Charlie White at SCRI's online partner, DigitalMediaNet.

What's the state of the broadcast industry today? We asked key broadcast product vendors the same five specific questions about their products, customers and growth areas they see for their companies and the broadcast industry in general. We now simultaineously publish the answers of all the companies that responded to our query, in hopes of giving you a good idea of the issues on the minds of broadcast equipment suppliers circa late 2006. Here is the response from Robert Harris, Vice President of Marketing, Panasonic Broadcast.

1. Tell us why your biggest-selling product is so successful.
The HVX200 has been an overwhelming success for PBTS. With demand for HD content has taking off, the HVX200 met this opportunity head on by providing true, HD production, 4.2.2, independent frame (intraframe) quality at a very affordable price without the compromises of other distribution codec based formats. Offering both 1080 and 720p, 24p, and variable frame rates the system, as well as a DV integrated tape mechanism, the HVX200 is compatible with their existing SD infrastructure and then move into the more advanced workflow of file based production with Panasonic’s revolutionary P2 solid state acquisition. An incredibly advanced product at a very affordable price.

2. What do you hear your customers characterizing as their major problem that's solved by your products?
As a manufacturer it is important that we keep our products and their value in perspective. Capturing the breaking news story reliably or insuring that the costs of the talent, lighting, set design are not wasted, demands that these tools are highly reliable and that the footage is the highest quality possible, which is the key difference Panasonic brings to our products.

3. What do you see as the next growth area for the broadcast industry?
Two key areas appear to me to be high definition video and IP content distribution. With broadband pipes reaching critical mass into our households and workplace as well as rapid advancements in wireless technology, this brings new opportunities for the distribution of sports and news content. Pay per view, subscription services and download can bring a lot of revenue to this industry. HD is only a matter of time.

4. What's the biggest growth area for your company in particular?
HD is clearly the area of greatest growth for our company. We are driving this growth as the world’s leading supplier of large screen plasma displays and now offering a wide range of full production quality camcorders, cameras, decks, and accessories to help our customers meet this challenge.

5. How do you view the current state of HD conversion industry-wide? Is it a done deal or do we have a ways to go, and what's your company doing to assist in that switch?
Some segments of our industry are farther along than others in this HD transition. The production and post production community is leading the way, followed by broadcasters who are now experiencing the competitive challenge brought on by consumer demand. Of course, this transition is not without tremendous cost and it does not happen overnight. Panasonic led this early HD effort with products like HD-D5 and our famous VariCam camcorder. With the HVX200 we introduced affordable, DVCPRO HD production quality and this summer began shipping the full 2/3” quality AJ-HDX900 camcorder, HD1400 deck and AK-HC1500 camera for mainstream professionals. All of these systems provide HD quality but also are also compatible with existing SD DVCPRO infrastructures. This means that the transitional cost is minimized. With the announcement at NAB of our AJ-HPC2000, that can utilizing advanced AVC-intra (H.264) compression in parallel to DVCPRO HD, we will again make another significant jump while minimizing these transition costs.

Kasenna Reports 100%+ Revenue Growth

Kasenna, The IPTV Company, announced a record close to 2006, marked by its fourth-quarter launch of PortalTV 2.0, key additions to its executive team, the opening of several new offices, and strong growth prospects for 2007. During the year, Kasenna took advantage of the burgeoning demand for IPTV by offering the next generation of its industry-leading PortalTV solution. A powerful IPTV middleware and server suite, PortalTV 2.0 makes deployment easier for service providers and helps them generate new revenue streams. In order to serve the significant increase in demand for PortalTV 2.0 and its growing global customer base, which now totals more than 250, Kasenna added several senior executives to its management, product, and service teams and opened additional offices in China, Russia, and the U.S. The company also established the IPTV Center of Excellence in Bangalore, India, to serve that growing new market.

Kasenna continued to ride the wave of international interest in IPTV in markets such as China, which is expected to reach five million subscribers by 2010, according to research firm Heavy Reading. As further testimony to its growing global presence, in December Kasenna saw its IPTV Center of Excellence in India bring together multi-vendor IPTV systems to enable quicker deployments.

"This industry has moved from the 'kick the tire' phase to going mainstream," said Jeff Heynen, industry analyst for Broadband and IPTV at Infonetics. "We predict IPTV equipment sales in the U.S. will grow to $6.8 billion by 2009, and Kasenna and others will benefit from that."

Optibas Q4 Webcast

Optibase, Ltd., a leader in IPTV and digital video solutions, announced that it will report fourth quarter 2006 earnings results on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 during pre-market hours.

The Company will hold a conference call at 9:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 for interested investors, analysts and portfolio managers. The conference call will be broadcast live as a listen-only webcast. To listen live, please go to www.kcsa.com approximately twenty minutes before the conference call is scheduled to begin. You will need to register as well as download and install any necessary audio software. The webcast will be archived for 90 days.

Pixelworks Q4 Webcast

Pixelworks, Inc., a leading provider of system-on-chip ICs for the advanced display industry, will release its fourth quarter 2006 and 2006 year-end financial results on Tuesday, January 30, 2007, after market close. Hans Olsen, Pixelworks CEO and President, and Mike Yonker, Pixelworks Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Secretary, will host a conference call at 2 p.m. PST to discuss the company’s financial results.

The conference call will be open to all interested investors through telephone and live audio Web broadcast. The conference call can be accessed by calling (719) 457-2634 and using pass code 4367281. The Web broadcast can be accessed by visiting our investor page at www.pixelworks.com. For those unable to listen to the live Web broadcast, it will be archived through February 28, 2007. A replay of the conference call will also be available through midnight on February 2, 2007, and can be accessed by calling (719) 457-0820 using pass code 4367281.

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PRODUCT NEWS

da Vinci Systems, Revival film repair and restoration system, Version 4.6

da Vinci Systems has released Version 4.6, its Revival film repair and restoration system will offer a Dirt Matte tool supporting KODAK DIGITAL ICE Technology, greatly improving the accuracy by which defects can be detected and remedied in the restoration process.

Utilizing a key new technology to the motion picture industry, the ARRISCAN film scanner employs DIGITAL ICE algorithms to generate a defect matte along with an image during the scanning process. ARRISCAN software combines the dirt matte with the original image in a variety of embedded or separate combinations, and DIGITAL ICE may then be used to correct many of the defects. Revival's new Dirt Matte feature reads the DPX file with the embedded defect matte to isolate and automatically remove dirt from new or archival images, without requiring further frame-by-frame analysis and thereby saving time in the repair process.

ARRI, manufacturer of the ARRISCAN and also a post-production facility at its Munich, Germany-based headquarters, has purchased the new Dirt Matte feature specifically for its restoration work on feature films. ARRI will be the first facility in the world to use this new Revival option.

Revival with the new Dirt Matte option is now available as Version 4.6

Arts Alliance Purchases 240 Doremi Cinema's DCP-2000 Digital Cinema Servers

Arts Alliance Media (AAM), Europe's leading provider of digital distribution services, is to purchase up to 240 units of the DCP-2000 digital cinema server from Doremi Cinema for installation in the UK Film Council’s Digital Screen Network.

The Digital Screen Network (DSN) is the world’s first 2k digital cinema network, and is currently being rolled out across the UK by Arts Alliance Media. AAM won the contract to install and operate the network in February 2005, and is due to complete installations by late Spring this year.

The Doremi DCP-2000 server is the world's most widely used JPEG2000 digital cinema server that conforms to the standards outlined in the current DCI specifications. Features of the server include MPEG2 MXF playback, 3D playback, CineLink II encryption, and forensic watermarking

In February 2005, Arts Alliance Digital Cinema won the UK Film Council contract to install and operate 240 digital screens, the world’s first 2k digital cinema network. More information can be found at www.ukdsn.com. To date, since October 2005, 136 screens have been installed and 82 titles have been played on AAM’s UK network. In April 2006, AAM expanded its digital cinema network into Europe, with a trial rollout in Norway, and from February 2007 will be providing installation, integration and maintenance services to Odeon’s digital cinema trial in the UK.

New Snell & Wilcox Protus Ph.C Dramatically Improves Mobile TV Image Quality

Snell & Wilcox's new Protus Ph.C, is a new video image conditioning system that allows providers of mobile TV services to dramatically increase picture quality and/or reduce bandwidth requirements for delivering content to wireless, Internet, and Web delivery platforms.

Compatible with virtually any video compression encoder and all compression formats, Protus Ph.C utilizes Emmy Award-winning technologies from Snell & Wilcox to enable video content to be compressed more efficiently. The resulting double-digit percentage bandwidth savings can be used to deliver higher quality images to consumers, or to free up bandwidth for the delivery of extra revenue-producing video channels.

"With the explosive growth in new mobile and IP platforms for TV, content delivery and streaming media service providers have become extremely aware of the impact on picture quality and bandwidth usage of sub-optimal deinterlacing, noise reduction, and other video processing steps," said Joe Zaller, vice president of marketing at Snell & Wilcox. "By performing these steps prior to video compression, Protus Ph.C helps any encoder to do its job better, which translates into maximum flexibility, higher quality, and bandwidth savings for operators."

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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

Avid Names ex SGI VP as New Chief Marketing Officer

Avid has appointed Greg Estes as chief marketing officer, reporting directly to president and CEO, David Krall.

In this newly-created role, Estes will drive cross-divisional marketing and brand initiatives in support of Avid's corporate mission to serve the industries that make, manage and move media.

Estes' professional career includes more than 20 years working for technology- and entertainment-related businesses. Prior to joining Avid, he served as vice president of global marketing for Mountain View, CA-based Silicon Graphics, where he was instrumental in the company's development of animation, special effects, video serving, and digital asset management solutions. Estes was also a founding member of RasterOps Corporation, which developed the first color graphics boards and video capture devices for the Macintosh II in the late 1980?s.

Broadcast industry veteran, Dick DeBeradinis, Dies

Richard Dick DeBeradinis, a 35-year professional in the broadcast industry, died on Nov. 12, 2006, at his home in Ormond Beach, Fla., from pancreatic cancer. He was 72.

Dick was practically an industry fixture in the Northeast, based in and around New York City since 1962 and servicing customers on the East Coast and in the Caribbean. In his sales management roles, he worked in all parts of the industry, including production, post production, government, and network broadcast for such companies as Central Dynamics, CMX, Ross Video, Utah Scientific, and Vela Research.

"Dick touched so many lives in this industry," said Utah Scientific CEO Tom Harmon. "He was a unique individual and impacted everyone he worked with, whether coworker or customer, with his energy and positive attitude. It has enhanced my life to know him, as I know it has the lives of so many others. He will be greatly missed."

Born in Ossining, N.Y., Dick is survived by Marilyn, his wife of 34 years, and two sons, two daughters, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

To send condolences or share memories, please e-mail deberadinis@utahscientific.com. The messages will be compiled and sent to Dick's family.

Tom McGowan Rejoins Quantel As CEO, North America

Veteran Quantel employee Tom McGowan has rejoined the company as its new CEO for North America. He will split his time between California and Quantel's North American Headquarters in Vienna, Virginia.

McGowan boasts a long history with Quantel having first joined the company in 1982 as a District Sales Manager to ultimately hold the position of Vice President of Broadcast Sales rounding out 18 years with the Company. He returns to Quantel after serving as Director of Broadcast Sales Operations, Midwest and Western States and National Accounts for Avid Technologies. Prior to Avid's purchase of Pinnacle Systems, Tom served as Director of Sales, Americas Broadcast for Pinnacle Systems and spent four years as Vice President of Sales & Marketing for ParkerVision.

McGowan possesses more than 30 years' experience in broadcast engineering, and post production technology sales. During his career with Quantel he has held a variety of high level positions such as Vice President of Sales for Graphics and VP of Sales for Broadcast Products.

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RESEARCH NEWS

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