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Why DTV Switch Will Be DelayedThe following report is by Phillip Swann, publisher of SCRI's online partner, TV Predictions.
A coalition of industry groups today announced plans for a consumer education campaign to increase awareness of the nation's transition to Digital TV on February 17, 2009.
I applaud the initiative. However, despite their best efforts, I predict that the campaign will fall short and that Congress will extend the 2009 deadline by at least one year.
No Viewer Left Behind?
At the press conference today in Washington, D.C., the DTV Transition Coalition, which includes broadcasting, cable and CE groups, vowed that no viewer would be left behind when the switch occurs.
Coalition members said the educational campaign -- and the benefits of Digital TV (High-Definition TV; multicasting etc.) -- will motivate Americans to get ready for the switch.
However, despite their sincerity and resourcefulness, coalition members are simply not up to the task. Nor are the multiple government agencies involved in making the transition a success.
The DTV Coalition says blue skies are ahead.
And here's why:
1. There's Not Enough Time
FCC Adopts Franchise Rule ChangesThe FCC Monday released its order adopting new video franchising rule changes it approved in December. The changes should help telephone companies more easily secure video franchises, which the FCC says will help spur the broadband rollout and increase price and service competition to cable.
The FCC said the changes were in response to what it said were local franchising authority (LFA) conditions that were an "ubreasonable barrier" to competition to existing multichannel video providers.
Per congressional criticisms that the FCC was preempting Congress' authority--Congress failed to pass its own version of local franchise reform thanks to the network neutrality issue--the FCC Monday made it clear it felt it had the authority to make the changes based on its "broad rulemaking authority" in the COmmunications Act. It also cited more specific authority in the 1996 Telecommunicatoins Act revamp to "encourage broadband deployment by removing barriers to infrastructure investment," which it adds was upheld by the D.C. U.S. Court of Appeals.
The order puts a shot clock on franchise negotiations, prevents LFA's from denying franchises for refusal to agree to "unreasonable" build-out requirements or to undertake "certain obligations relating to public, educational or government channels; says LFA's cannot refuse to grant an LFA based on "non-cable services," and preempts local laws that allow LFA's to do any of the above.
The FCC also asked for input on how the new rules should apply to incumbents, i.e., should they get the same relief from LFA conditions when their franchises come up for renewal, or even before. The commission also asked for comment on how local consumer protection and customer service standards fit into the new regulatory regime.
Not surprisingly, AT&and Verizon, which are both rolling out video services in competition to cable and pushed for the failed national legislation, praised the new rules. "As today's Order makes clear, the FCC wisely determined that consumers benefit from the rapid deployment of bigger, faster and smarter broadband pipes that deliver video choice for consumers," said AT&T Senior VRobert Quinn.'?"We applaud the FCC's efforts to promote for consumers alternatives to the incumbent cable companies."
"The FCC's Order establishes reasonable timeframes for localities to negotiate the terms of competitive entry for new video providers As AT&T continues to aggressively deploy the only 100% IP-based TV service in the nation, we will continue to abide by our obligations, such as respecting local management of rights-of-way, support for franchise fees, and delivery of public, educational and government programming."
Marilyn O'Connell, chief marketing officer of Verizon Telecom, added: "This decision removes obstacles to the continued aggressive rollout of our all-fiber-optic network and our FiOS TV service. It means that we will be able to reach our goal of rapidly expanding the number of consumers who have a choice of video service providers."
DLP-based HDTVs on The IncreaseDLP-based HDTVs enjoyed strong sales in 2006, outselling other competing technologies at screen sizes of 50in or larger, according to The NPD Group.
Texas Instruments' DLP technology ranked number one in all 1080p HDTV sales for 2006 within the microdisplay category, NPD found.
Overall DLP units sold in the 50in and above HDTV category experienced year-over-year growth of 63 percent from December 2005 to December 2006, according to NPD's retail tracking service.
In the HDTV 40in-49in screen sizes, DLP retained its advantage. DLP led in sales of 1080p resolution microdisplay models in the United States during December, with 61.6 percent market share in units.
More than one-quarter of all 1080p HDTV sales in December were DLP models. Total unit sales of 1080p with all technologies increased year over year by almost seven times from December 2005 to December 2006.
Korean Govt pulls the plug on iTVITV has been taken off the air in Korea, immediately after the concession was revoked by the PM's Office, said PM's Office Minister Khunying Dhipawadee Meksawan.
After a recent Cabinet meeting, she revealed that to follow through the legal procedure, iTV cannot operate until the government has the confirmation to do so from the Council of State. "The Council of State will rush through this process. It tends to give the answer within this Friday," she said.
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Podcasting SeminarThis report is by Ko Maruyama at SCRI's online partner Digital Media Online.
In my short series about my adventures with my PC, I started to listen to various podcasts (ironically on my Apple iPod) about how to do stuff. It was about a year and a half ago when I started subscribing to podcasts. Since then, podcasting has taken off. Gear Media Tech, a podcast featuring Leo Laporte and Alex Lindsay is also now a seminar, helping everyone learn about production.
In part two of my Diary of My PC, I had to note that almost all of my security knowledge about my BOXX laptop was learned daily from Steve Gibson's Security Now! show - I'm still listening and learning. (thank you Steve and Leo).
Now Leo Laporte, and Alex Lindsay (Pixel Corps, MacBreak) are starting Gear Media Tech, which includes some detailed explanations of high end gear. In addition to the podcast, a three-day seminar is being held in March 28-30, 2007 in San Francisco. During the seminar, industry veterans will talk about producing audio and video media for web and mobile.
Podcasting is already a popular broadcast format, and if you don't think it is now, wait until the next generation of mobile devices makes it even easier for people to listen to their favorite feeds.
Although Gear Media Tech is a new podcast, Leo Laporte and Alex Lindsay have been podcast pioneers, with hundreds of podcast episodes already in existence. You can see a list of podcasts that the Pixel Corps is associated with by going to http://www.pixelcorps.com. You can see the "too many to list here" podcasts that Leo has by visiting his website at http://leoville.com. He's everywhere. :)
Gear Media Tech's three-day seminar is for everyone who is interested in creating, or working around media which may be delivered to web or mobile devices. Alex Lindsay says, "It's really a boot camp for those interested in producing media for the Web, phones or other mobile devices." Modestly, he adds, "We've learned a few tricks about producing content over the years."
But, if you've been listening to the various podcasts, you know Alex, Leo and the Pixel Corps recording team have done a ton of testing with all kinds of... gear.. media and tech. From the first videos, clickable embedded links, lav mics, surround sound mics (listen to MacBreak Weekly 24: MacWorld After Dark -audio- for excellent surround sound impersonations of Alex: use headphones). There are some great episodes from a small cafe in San Francisco when the shows started using condenser mics.
Leo Laporte modestly adds, "We're all still learning and the industry is still finding itself." If I were audible now, you'd hear me booming in a loud voice, "Leo has forgotten, discarded and disproved more than most podcasters know combined!"
As if Alex and Leo weren't enough to fill your head to the brink of explosion, Scott Bourne, founder of NetRadio and current director of Podango Productions will be helping to cram attendees minds with all kinds of pro tips, tricks and tried-and-true rules.
The three-day seminar goes through the entire process, from "which hardware to use" to an actual recording of a podcast. Unlike other seminars, where you have to forfeit one session for another, the Gear Media Tech show will allow all attendees to experience the entire syllabus.
FOX to Extend Network Programming via Web TVFox Broadcasting Company, Fox Interactive Media (FIM) and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. unveiled a landmark plan to extend FOX television programming to its affiliate Web sites, enabling more than 200 broadcast network affiliates to offer their local viewers the ability to watch or buy FOX’s critically acclaimed shows, including “24,” “Bones,” “Prison Break” and more.
Under the terms of the deal struck with the FOX affiliate Board of Governors, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Interactive Media, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and the local affiliates will share both transactional and advertising revenues.
“This is the next logical step in our partnership as the affiliate body and network move forward into the digital age,” said Joe Denk, Vice President and General Manager of KFXA-TV in Cedar Rapids, IA, and Chairman of the FOX affiliate board. “We expect the affiliate body to look favorably on this important opportunity to better serve their communities’ emerging digital needs.” “Fox Interactive Media is thrilled to enable FOX affiliates to build meaningful, localized video distribution businesses online and offer their audiences the highest quality viewing experience,” said Ron Berryman, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Fox Interactive Media Stations Group. “We’re seeing great traction with ‘FOX on Demand’ on MySpace on a national level and in the initial local offerings on the owned-and-operated station sites, and look forward to working closely with the affiliates as we continue to break new ground in digital distribution.” Matthew Glotzer, Fox’s Senior Vice President of Digital Media, added, “This agreement leverages the strengths of our studio and broadcast network programming and deepens our partnerships with both FIM and FBC’s station affiliates. We have created the first market-wide, localized, broadband video offering that includes both ad-supported and sell-through business models, affording consumers unprecedented choice.” Programming will be delivered via “FOX on Demand,” the company’s leading video distribution platform. To date, “FOX on Demand” has offered an ad-supported, streaming-only platform; now, it will enable visitors to purchase television shows for play on the go on a computer or portable device. “FOX on Demand’s” new commerce functionality is powered by FIM’s Direct2Drive (http://www.direct2drive.com) digital retail store, which also offers top-selling video games, blockbuster movies, anime and more.
LIN TV & Cox Communications Ink DTV Carriage DealLIN TV Corp. and Cox Communications announced that the companies have reached an agreement for retransmission consent of broadcast stations in both analog and in high-definition.
“We are pleased with the outcome of our negotiations,” said Vincent L. Sadusky, president and chief executive officer of LIN TV Corp. “Our stations are leaders in their markets and we’ve made substantial investments to bring our viewers high definition digital programming. The agreement reflects fair value to both parties and is in the best interest of the consumer.”
“LIN stations are important to our mutual customers, and Cox is pleased to finalize an agreement providing for long-term carriage of both the analog and digital signals of those stations in the applicable Cox markets,” said Bob Wilson, senior vice president of programming for Cox.
The deal enables hundreds of thousands of viewers to watch LIN TV’s news, sports and entertainment programs in high-definition from the affiliate stations of WALA-TV (FOX) and WBPG-TV (CW) in the Mobile, Alabama – Pensacola, Florida DMA; WAVY-TV (NBC) and WVBT-TV (FOX) in the Norfolk, Virginia DMA; WNAC-TV (FOX) and WPRI-TV (CBS) in the Providence, Rhode Island DMA; WWLP-TV (NBC) in the Springfield, Massachusetts DMA, and WTNH-TV (ABC) and WCTX-TV (MyNetworkTV) in the Hartford - New Haven, Connecticut DMA.
The agreement also grants Cox Communications the right to LIN TV’s locally produced content for Video on Demand (VOD) and a new “Local Weather Station” will be available for viewers in Hartford and Florida’s Gulf Coast, featuring the stations’ trusted meteorologists delivering hyper-local weather conditions, forecasts and live, local Doppler radar. “Local Weather Stations” offer continuous local weather information, up-to-the-minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cox Cable subscribers in Rhode Island and Norfolk currently have this resource with the WPRI Eyewitness News Pinpoint Weather Station and the WAVY Weather Station.
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JVC up for grabsA recent report on Vunet states that struggling Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer JVC may find a buyer as soon as this week, according to sources in Japan.
Two foreign private equity firms are planning bids for the firm, according to unnamed sources quoted by Japanese media.
A takeover of JVC has been expected for some months, the report states. The company had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s when it triumphed over Sony's Betamax home video recording system with its own hugely-popular VHS technology.
However, JVC's fortunes have declined in recent years, and its drooping share price has become a drain on the finances of long-term investor Matsushita Group. Matsushita holds 53 per cent of JVC, currently worth $730m.
JVC announced recently that it expects to report zero profit for the financial year ending 31 March.
However, Matsuhita, owner of the Panasonic brand, is reported to be wary of releasing its ailing partner into the arms of an Asian rival.
JVC has deep roots in Japan's manufacturing heartland, where it has been building electronics and electrical products for more than 70 years.
The company has been severely wounded by the shift in production of LCD TVs and DVD players to low cost mass manufacturers in China and other countries.
Analysts in Japan suggested that JVC was slow to cut its Japanese manufacturing ties, and has not been able to ramp up production high enough, or cut costs low enough, to compete with the new leaders in its core markets.
Chyron Corp. Q4 Earnings Release & Conference CallChyron Corporation announced plans to release its fourth-quarter and full-year 2006 results on Tuesday, March 13, 2007, after the close of the market. A conference call to review those results will be held on Wednesday, March 14, 2007, at 12:00 PM EDT; this call will be broadcast live over the Internet and may be accessed at www.chyron.com or www.earnings.com.
Web participants are encouraged to go to either website at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the call to register, download, and install any necessary audio software. The online archive will be available shortly after the conclusion of the call and continue for seven days.
Focus Enhancements Q4 Revenue Up 69%Focus Enhancements, Inc., a worldwide supplier of video production, PC-to-TV conversion and Ultra Wideband (UWB) wireless announced financial results for its fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2006.
Fourth quarter total revenue of $10.3 million increased 69 percent over fourth quarter 2005. Semiconductor Business fourth quarter revenue was $3.1 million, up 179 percent over fourth quarter 2005. Systems Business fourth quarter revenue was $7.2 million, up 45 percent over fourth quarter 2005. “2006 was a very exciting year as we delivered dramatic revenue growth in our Semiconductor Business, supported by steady growth in our Systems Business,” stated Brett Moyer, president and chief executive officer of Focus Enhancements. “Looking forward, our 2006 research and development (R&D) investments combined with our recent $6.3 million financing have positioned us for a third year of sequential revenue growth. We are poised to take advantage of the presently anticipated growth opportunities in the portable device market and for wireless connectivity, and we expect initial revenue for our new TV-out and UWB chips in the third quarter of 2007.”
Moyer continued, “With our robust UWB technology, we are pioneering a new wireless marketplace, currently projected by analysts to be worth approximately $1 billion by 2010. In the past five months, we have begun actively working with 26 companies, including major personal computer manufacturers, consumer electronic companies and original device manufacturers all over the globe. In the third quarter of this year, we expect our customers to be shipping Wireless USB hard drives, hubs and dongles enabling products for the 2007 holiday season. Other active project discussions include smart phones, portable phones, DVR/media centers, set-top boxes, printers, notebook computers and televisions. Incorporation of our UWB technology in these devices will drive UWB revenue in 2008.”
Moyer commented, “With the product sales and R&D strategies we have in place, throughout 2007 we currently expect revenue to increase and expenses to decrease sequentially each quarter.” The company currently anticipates full year 2007 revenue between $42 million and $46 million, with Semiconductor Business revenue contribution increasing to approximately 35 percent of total revenue. On these expectations, 2007 gross margin as a percentage of revenue is anticipated to be approximately 46 percent to 48 percent. Operating expenses for the year are expected to be approximately $30 million.
SeaChange Int'l. Q4 Results & Conference CallSeaChange International, Inc. will announce its fourth quarter fiscal year 2007 financial results on Tuesday, March 13 after the market close. The Company’s conference call will commence at 5 p.m. E.T. to discuss the results.
Live Conference Call/Webcast Information
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Pinnacle Introduces TV Tuners for MacAvid Technology, Inc. ( announced that its consumer division, Pinnacle Systems, Inc, is entering the market for Mac peripherals with three new USB TV tuner devices: two for the European market and one for the US market. The new ultra-portable Pinnacle TV for Mac Sticks turn any Mac into a full-featured TV receiver/recorder with remote control.
“Macs are famous for their eye-catching design and the cool features within the OS. Now Mac users can use Pinnacle products to further extend the capabilities of their computers and transform them into personal TVs and video recorders,” said, Pinnacle Systems general manager and Avid vice president Jeff Hastings. “With Pinnacle TV for Mac Sticks, anyone can enjoy an easy-to-use, high quality TV experience on a Mac, whether at home or traveling.”
In addition to watching TV, users can take advantage of the TimeShifting feature to pause and rewind their favorite shows. The sticks also turn any Mac into a full personal video recorder (PVR), allowing users to record shows on the fly or schedule recordings ahead of time using the integrated electronic program guide (EPG). Users can save recordings on the Mac’s hard drive in DVD-quality MPEG-2 format. The included A/V adapter cable also enables users to import video from external sources such as a camcorder, making it a handy no-hassle solution for transferring video to a Mac computer.
In North America, consumers can purchase the Pinnacle TV for Mac HD Stick starting in March from the Pinnacle Systems website (www.pinnaclesys.com), at major retailers and also at e-tailers. USMRSRP is $129.
Blu-ray Boom? PS3 Shortages Coming to EndSony this week said it will offer a $599 Blu-ray player this summer and now there's more good news for those looking for inexpensive high-def units
According to Reuters, Sony says it will meet its goal of shipping two million PlayStation 3 video game consoles to North American stores by the end of March. Even better, Sony vows that PS3 shortages will be a thing of the past by May.
The PS3, which starts at $499, comes with a Blu-ray HDTV DVD player inside. Many high-def owners interested in getting a HDTV DVD player have sought to purchase the PS3 because its price is currently half of a standalone Blu-ray player.
The sudden supply of PS3s -- coupled with the $599 standalone Sony Blu-ray player -- could give Blu-ray a huge advantage over its rival HD-DVD this summer.
"April or May is when we feel like we're going to catch up to demand and have product fully in stock across North America and stay there," Jack Tretton, Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO told Reuters.
Tretton denied reports that some video retailers have plenty of PS3s sitting on shelves with shoppers uninterested. He said stores are demanding that more units be shipped as soon as possible.
"Our goal is to fill shelves across the United States. Our goal is not to have empty shelves; it's to have full shelves. If we have empty shelves, that's one less consumer who could have bought a PlayStation 3," Tretton told the news service.
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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Former Cable Execs Sentenced for Defrauding Govt.A former Miami-based cable executive will pay the government a $4 million fine and spend up to nine years in jail as punishment for defrauding the U.S. military out of millions of dollars by billing the Department of Defense for unbuilt cable plant, among other schemes.
Charles C. Hermanowski, the former operator of Americable International, was sentenced March 5. He pled guilty to 39 tax and fraud charges in federal court in December 2006.
During the investigation, the executive was also found to have directed employees to underreport revenue to up to 50 cable networks, cheating those businesses out of subscription fees, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida. The schemes came to light in 1997, when Americable submitted termination-settlement proposals to the military, seeking compensation for plant at bases scheduled to be closed. Auditors determined that the plant had either not been built or was not as broadly deployed as the company claimed.
When a grand jury issued a subpoena for handwriting samples from Hermanowski in 2000, he fled the county. He was detained by authorities in Australia two years later. The former executive was traveling on a Grenadian passport obtained in the name of a dead former neighbor.
He fought extradition for four years, according to federal authorities.
Prior to this sentence, in 2002, executives of corporate entities Americable International, Americable International Moffett and Americable International New York pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the government.
Americable comptroller Alice Pirchesky and treasurer Rick Hensley were also prosecuted and received prison time.
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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 (email@example.com) for more information and/or to place an order.
Mobile data to Boost Mobile IndustryA new report from Research & Markets states that mobile data is the answer to the declining revenues currently being experienced by the mobile industry. By 2015 it is expected that most mobile revenue will come from data. However, business models will need to change for this to occur – users will only want to access mobile data services if they are provided at low cost. For many mobile operators this is going to require significant changes to their current voice-centric business models.
One of the major areas where high-speed services are needed is in mobile data communications. To compete with fixed broadband, it is essential for reliable high-speed wireless technologies to be developed. Wireless broadband is much more suited for the delivery of mobile data than 3G, and the infrastructure also has more potential for the delivery of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). These are two reasons why wireless broadband could start challenging 3G in the next decade.
While many countries are still considering the introduction of 3G, the industry has already developed 3¼G and beyond, with technologies such as High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA). Linking fixed and mobile together on IP Multimedia System (IMS) is another development, allowing for mobile TV and triple play models.
To try and stay ahead of developments in the fixed broadband market, the mobile industry is developing its own triple play models, where voice, data and video are bundled.
Consumer need for greater bandwidth will continue to push the evolution from 3G to 4G. Increasingly users will require high data rates, similar to those on fixed networks, and they will want superior services – good video and sound quality for example. More bandwidth would also allow for more sophistication in receiving and managing large quantities of information and improve personalisation services. Convergence with other network (enterprise, fixed) services will also come about through the high session data rates.
By 2015 the mobile content market could be worth well in excess of $1 trillion, with voice comprising only a 10% share of the market – if the industry gets it right. Currently mobile operators are still not opening up their networks for mobile content; one of the main reasons being that the current mobile technologies are not well-suited for the delivery of what the market calls ‘rich experience’ content (multimedia, video, etc). So for now mobile data traffic will continue to comprise mostly SMS, followed by ringtones and a small proportion of everything else. The focus of the mobile operators will also remain on protecting their lucrative voice business for the time being.
Developments in mobile commerce are continuing, with banks and merchants beginning to show an interest in collaborating with mobile operators. With the introduction of contactless cards using Near Field Communications (NFC); this industry sector is beginning to show some signs of revival.
Handset development is also forging ahead with the introduction of the mobile wallet using technologies such as NFC, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), bar codes, and visual recognition.
China’s to Lead Asia-Pacific Charge to Higher-End STBsConsumers in the Asia-Pacific region will increasingly opt for higher-end set-top boxes that support personal video recorder (PVR) and high-definition features, according to a new study from ABI Research. This trend will be driven to a large degree by China, which will see the region’s largest increase in subscriber numbers.
“The Asia-Pacific pay-TV industry still has considerable room for growth, especially in countries like China and India, where the base of potential customers is huge but there is still relatively low pay-TV and digital penetration,” says broadband research analyst Serene Fong. “For instance, in the digital cable TV and telco TV arenas, we expect China to take the lead in terms of actual shipment counts, with approximately 75 million and 9 million box shipments, respectively, by 2012.”
China will also lead in subscriber growth rates, fueled by growing affluence and increased consumer spending on TV and video services. Chinese consumers will also invest in technologically more advanced set-top boxes in order to view digital broadcasts over their traditional analog TV sets.
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