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Insider Report

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

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

INDEX

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

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Blu-Ray dominating new high-def DVD market.

Blu-ray's recent domination of rival HD DVD is even stronger than previously reported, according to new sales numbers reported by Home Media Magazine.

Since the two high-def DVDs were launched last year, 1.2 million Blu-ray discs have been sold compared to 937,500 HD DVDs.

However, in the first quarter of 2007, 70 percent of HDTV DVDs sold were Blu-ray against 30 percent for HD DVD, Home Media Magazine says.

In March, Blu-ray captured 75 percent of overall HDTV DVD sales, thanks in part to Sony releasing Casino Royale exclusively on Blu-ray.

And, the publication writes, when consumers had a choice between the two formats, Blu-ray was the runaway winner. Warner Bros. released the Oscar-winning The Departed on Blu-ray and HD DVD on February 13. Between that time and the end of March, 53,640 Blu-ray copies of the film were sold compared to 31,590 HD DVDs.

Further evidence of Blu-ray's domination: Eight of the top 10 selling HDTV DVDs in the first quarter were on Blu-ray.

Cable Seeks More Capacity For HDTV

Cable TV operators are testing several new technologies designed to increase their capacity to offer High-Definition TV channels, according to a Reuters report.

The news service reports that cable operators are concerned that satcasters DIRECTV and EchoStar will dramatically expand their high-def lineups this year. Spencer Wang, a Bear Stearns analyst, says the cable ops will need to develops new ways to increase bandwidth to stay competitive.

"In the short term, the greatest concern is High Definition TV, given growing HD TV set penetration and DirecTV's plans to offer over 100 national HD feeds by the end of this year," Wang said, according to Reuters.

However, Reuters writes that the cable companies also must increase capacity without overly increasing their expenditures, which could upset shareholders.

Several companies, such as BigBand Networks, are offering solutions such as Switched Digital Video that saves bandwidth by only delivering a channel to the home when the viewer actually watches it.

Reuters reports that BigBand's stock jumped 30 percent last month when it went public with cable TV operators Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner already signing on as customers.

Time Warner has said publicly that it believes that Switched Digital Video will enable it to offer as many channels as DIRECTV by year's end.

Cameron Cooke, a Janco Partners analyst, tells Reuters that cable will have to invest in companies such as BigBand to ensure it will have the technology to keep pace. "Cable is going to have to invest in some way in all of these different technologies until they make the leap to full fiber," says Cooke. "I'm thinking about ten years from now you'll start to see cable operators taking cable into the home."

Michael Arden, a ABI Research analyst, says Switched Digital Video could cost each cable system just $5 to $10 per home in upgrade costs.

Vyyo, which is offering another capacity-enhancing technology called Spectrum Overlay, says it can enable a cable operator to increase bandwidth by 3 GHz. However, it could cost an an average of $125 per home, says Reuters.

CEA: Digital TV Concerns Being Hyped

Some people are engaging in "fear-mongering" by suggesting millions of Americans may lose their TV signals when the nation switches to Digital TV, according to Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

At a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., Shapiro said the Digital TV transition "will be uncomfortable and different, but that if we do our jobs right most consumers will know what their options are."

On February 17, 2009, all broadcasters must switch to digital signals. On that date, viewers will not be able to watch TV unless they get a new Digital TV, subscribe to cable or satellite or get converter boxes which will enable old analog TVs to display the new signals.

An estimated 19 million people now do not subscribe to cable or satellite.

According to B&C, Shapiro said demand for the converter boxes will be less than what some people think.

"Less than 15% of homes will really be shut out totally... (and) some of them want to be shut out," he said. "There is fear-mongering going on, and frankly, it has become a political issue. Democrats are saying the Republicans didn't give enough money and the Democrats now are saying 'oh, we need more money.' "

Shapiro was referring to the federal government's $1.5 billion appropriation for the issuing of two $40 converter coupons to every American who requests them. (The feds will begin handing out the coupons in January; the converters are expected to cost around $60.) Some Democrats are saying the $1.5 billion is not enough to meet demand.

John Lawson, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, another panelist at the Monday session, disagree with Shapiro that the $1.5 billion is sufficient.

"We've been consistent from day one. We think the government needs to do its part as a major stakeholder in the success of the transition and invest a little bit more in outreach," he said.

Kyle McSlarrow, president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, told the panel audience that a robust educational campaign will be needed to alert consumers to the switch.

The NCTA is participating in an industry-wide effort to educate Americans.

DTV Will Not Be Delayed Say Lawmakers

Several congressmen said recently that they will not extend the deadline for the nation's switch to Digital TV.

The vow, made at a House subcommittee hearing on the Digital TV switch, flies in the face of criticism by some lawmakers that the country won't be ready when the switch is scheduled on February 17, 2009.

However, according to Reuters, three congressmen said at the hearing that the transition is crucial because some analog signals will be used by first responders to communicate in emergencies.

Analog signals will also be auctioned off by the federal government for an expected $10 billion, which some observers believe is driving the government's switch to digital.

"We will not let that date slip," said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan), according to Reuters.

On February 17, 2009, all broadcasters must switch to digital signals. On that date, viewers will not be able to watch TV unless they get a new Digital TV, subscribe to cable or satellite or get converter boxes which will enable old analog TVs to display the new signals.

An estimated 19 million households now do not subscribe to cable or satellite.

Reps. John Dingell (D-Michigan), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and others have suggested that millions could lose their TV signals when the switch occurs because there's not enough time for educational efforts.

But Reuters says Democratic Reps. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and Jane Harman of California agreed with Upton.

"We cannot violate a sacred trust to those that died on 9/11. I will do whatever I can do not to let this deadline slip," said Harman, referring to the difficulties of police and fire fighters to communicate with each other when the World Trade Center was attacked.

Back to SCRI News Briefs Index


INDUSTRY NEWS

China as IPTV market leader?

The co-founder of a leading Chinese telecom equipment vendor is predicting that China soon will be the largest IPTV market in the world, with as many as 1 million subscribers by year’s end, because it has overcome the significant barriers to deployment of the new technology.

Ying Wu, a Bell Labs veteran who co-founded UTStarcom and is now CEO of its China unit, said the regulatory and market environments in his country will enable the market to ramp up very quickly. UTStarcom has deployed its IPTV system with China Netcom in Harpin and with China Telecom--where it shares the set-top box part of the business with ZTE--in Shanghai.

"I predict China will be the largest IPTV market in the world quickly because we have overcome the five major barriers to deployment," Yu told an audience attending UTStarcom’s IPTV Tour 2007. He cited the five barriers as regulation, technology, content, infrastructure and capital. "Regulation is not a problem with the government in China," he said. "We have some problems with the local regulators but the good news is the government is trying to break that. We have had to overcome the resistance of the local cable operators but cable is very fragmented in China."

CNN Field Reports In HDTV

CNN's new High-Definition channel will include field reports in high-def as well as studio segments, according to an article in Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

CNN plans to launch a HD channel this fall and DIRECTV has already committed to carrying it.

B&C reports that the news network has decided to use Sony's XDCAN HD optical format for high-def field production. With the Sony units, CNN will be able to incorporate high-def field reports into its daily newscast.

"For CNN, the newsgathering work in HD is hugely important," Bob Hesskamp, vice president of CNN broadcasting engineering, tells the publication. "We have a global news operation, and we want to use HD to bring the viewer closer to the story."

B&C reports that CNN's decision to use Sony is a big victory for the electronics maker because the network surveyed several different camcorders including Panasonic's P2 HD and Thomson Grass Valley's Infinity.

Hesskamp and Michael Koetter, vice president of news technology, says the Sony camera offered the greatest flexibility for both HD and SD field productions.

"We didn't want to make the workflow harder or for it to impact our SD workflow," says Koetter.

The CNN official compared CNN's switch to high-def to "changing engines on a 747 while you're flying."

Telcos Not Ready For HDTV?

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone will soon take control of satcaster DIRECTV, but he appears unconcerned about the threat of new TV competition from telcos AT&T and Verizon.

According to The Denver Post, Malone said yesterday that the telcos will not have the bandwidth via Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) to handle the growing consumer demand for High-Definition TV services.

"DSL ... has limited capacity, I don't believe it will be enough to satisfy the demand for video. It ain't going to cut it," Malone said

Comcast STBs to Deliver 120 HDTV Channels

Comcast officials in Chicago say current digital set-tops will be able to deliver 120 High-Definition channels in 2008, according to an article in The Chicago Sun-Times. The newspaper reports that Comcast is switching all analog cable set-tops to digital boxes by July 1. The move is designed to prepare for the nation's switch to Digital TV on February 17, 2009, the Sun-Times writes.

"Analog TV is going away, and digital TV is coming. People are going to have clearer pictures and better sound. They will have interactive guides, and 40 free channels of Music Choice and a special universal remote control," said Eric Schaefer, Comcast's vice president of sales in the Chicago area.

But Comcast officials also told the newspaper that the digital set-tops will have enough bandwidth for 120 high-def channels, 400 digital channels and 10,000 streams for Video on Demand.

Comcast now carries around 20 high-def channels, but has said it's experimenting with a new technology called Digital Video Switching that could enable it to dramatically expand capacity.

DIRECTV, the nation's largest satellite TV service, has said it will offer 100 HD channels by year's end.

Comcast's Schaefer added that the new set-tops will enable subscribers to order or cancel channels by using the Internet.

Chicago area customers can upgrade to the digital boxes by either ordering one via the mail or pick up one at Comcast's office.

Satellite TV Grows 200 Percent In Seven Years

Satellite TV's DIRECTV and EchoStar now collectively own nearly 30 percent of the pay TV audience. And their share of the pay audience has risen roughly 200 percent in the last seven years. That's according to figures released today by the Television Bureau of Advertising.

The group says the satellite TV industry had 29.2 percent of the pay market in February 2007, compared to just 9.5 percent in February 2000.

Meanwhile, cable TV's audience share of the pay market has fallen from 89 percent to 71 percent in that time period.

Counting homes that do not subscribe to either cable or satellite, the TVB says dish services are now in 25.2 percent of all TV households. Cable operators are in 61.3 percent of all homes.

The cable-satellite war is expected to escalate in the next few years with the growth of High-Definition TV. Both cable and satellite are jockeying to position themselves as the go-to service for new high-def owners.

New telco TV services from Verizon and AT&T also hope to snare a slice of that market. But as of February, Verizon reported having just 207,000 subscribers while AT&T had just 7,000.

Sky TV Now Has 244,000 HD Subs

Sky TV, the U.K.-based satellite TV service, says it now has 244,000 High-Definition subscribers.

That represents approximately 2.8 percent of Sky's total customer base of 8,5 million subscribers. The satellite TV service launched its HDTV service about 10 months ago.

Sky said it added 60,000 high-def subscribers in the first quarter of this year and 340,000 subscribers overall (HD and non-HD combined.)

However, the net increase in the first quarter was just 51,000 due to customer churn.

Verizon: 348,000 FiOS TV Subs

Verizon says its FiOS TV service had 348,000 subscribers at the end of the first quarter.

The telco offers 27 High-Definition channels in most markets, including local channels.

Like the telco AT&T, Verizon is trying to capture a niche in the TV category to bolster its communications lineup of Internet and phone service.

Back to SCRI News Briefs Index


COMPANY NEWS

Avid Q1 2007 Net Income Down

Avid Technology, Inc. reported revenues of $218.9 million for the three-month period ended March 31, 2007 compared to $218.1 million for the same period in 2006. GAAP net income for the quarter was $20,000, or $.00 per diluted share compared to GAAP net income of $3.3 million, or $.08 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2006.

GAAP net income in the first quarter of 2007 includes $10.6 million of charges including amortization, stock-based compensation, restructuring and related tax adjustments. Excluding these items, non-GAAP earnings per diluted share were $.25. For the first quarter of 2006, there was $12.8 million of amortization, stock-based compensation, restructuring costs, in-process research and development, and related tax adjustments included in GAAP net income. Excluding these items, non-GAAP earnings per share were $.37 in the first quarter of 2006.

“Although we’re pleased that our bottom-line results were at the high end of our expectations due to careful cost controls and favorable one-time tax adjustments, sustained, profitable growth is our main objective,” said David Krall, Avid’s president and chief executive officer. “In our professional video business, we believe that growth will come with continued focus on being at the core of our customers’ businesses. In the first quarter, our overall bookings were up 9% from the same period last year, however, there was a noticeable drop-off in our run-rate business, despite the introduction of several new products late in the quarter. In discussions with our installed base, it has become clear that they are looking for us to provide them with the ability to migrate to our new solutions in stages, rather than having to do a wholesale upgrade all at one time. Therefore, in response to that feedback, we will be diverting some engineering resources to build this migration path. While this will negatively impact our ability to recognize incremental revenue out of our backlog by one to two quarters, it should have a positive impact on our run-rate business – and it’s the best long-term strategy to meet the needs of our video customers.”

Avid also announced that its Board of Directors approved a program to repurchase up to $100 million of stock through transactions on the open market, in block trades or otherwise. The stock repurchase program will be funded using the company's working capital. As of March 31, 2007, the company had cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of approximately $187.5 million.

Harris Reports Strong Increases in Revenue and Net Income

Harris Corporation reported revenue for the third quarter of fiscal year 2007 increased 22 percent to $1.072 billion, compared to $881 million in the prior- year quarter. GAAP net income increased to $214.9 million or $1.52 per diluted share.

"Harris delivered excellent financial results in the third quarter, led by higher revenue and strong operating performance in our Government Communications Systems and RF Communications segments," said Howard L. Lance, chairman, president, and chief executive officer. "Organic revenue growth was 14 percent in the quarter, reflecting continued positive momentum for the company. Our diversified U.S. and international customer base, solid program execution, and new product introductions position Harris for continued growth going forward. Significant restructuring activities during the quarter in our two commercial businesses overshadowed the progress we are making in repositioning Broadcast Communications and Harris Stratex Networks as global market leaders."

Revenue in the Broadcast Communications segment was $139 million in the third quarter, compared to $143 million in the prior-year quarter. Strong positive trends continued in the Video Infrastructure and Digital Media product lines, which posted another quarter of strong double-digit revenue growth. Investments in analog-to-digital and high-definition systems are enabling content providers and broadcasters to create, manage and deliver additional channels and video streams to consumers. HD Radio(R) Transmission systems revenue also increased as a result of further penetration of the new Harris FlexStar(R) exciter. Revenue was significantly lower in the quarter in U.S. digital TV Transmission and Automation software systems products.

Broadcast Communications orders were significantly higher than sales at $167 million, a 12 percent increase over the prior-year quarter. Video Infrastructure product line orders increased 17 percent compared to the fiscal 2006 third quarter. Harris provides industry-leading routers, digital amplifiers, test and measurement and networking technologies that support large, fast-growing segments of the media market. Harris is supporting customers as they expand services for high-definition TV, Internet Protocol TV, video-on-demand, and interactive TV. Recent acquisitions and a series of innovative new products have clearly established Harris as the preferred end- to-end solutions provider for the digital build-out worldwide.

Chyron Announces Date of Its Q1 2007 REsults

Chyron Corporation announced plans to release its first-quarter 2007 results on Wednesday, May 9, 2007, after the close of the market. A conference call to review those results will be held on Thursday, May 10, 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.

Participant using the telephone should dial 866 203 2528 (US and Canada) or 617 213 8847 (International) and refer to passcode 87749329. 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 replay numbers and passcode are 888 286 8010 (US and Canada) or 617 801 6888 (International) 71467367; the online archives will be available shortly after the conclusion of the call on both sites. Each replay will continue for seven days, through May 17th.

Optibase, Ltd. Q1 Revenue Up 40%

Optibase, Ltd. announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2007.

Revenues for the first quarter ended March 31, 2007 were $5.6 million compared with $4 million for the first quarter of 2006 and with $5.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2006. Net loss for the first quarter was $408,000 or $0.03 per basic and diluted share compared with a net loss of $1.3 million or $0.09 per basic and diluted share for the first quarter of 2006 and with a net loss of $162,000 or $0.01 per basic and diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2006. Weighted average shares outstanding used in the calculations were approximately 13.5 million for the first quarter of 2007, 13.4 million for the first quarter of 2006 and 13.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2006.

Tom Wyler, Chairman and Acting Chief Executive Officer of Optibase, said, “We are very pleased with the continued progress we saw in the first quarter. We saw an uptrend in revenues from the fourth quarter, and a year-over-year increase of 40%. While still early in the year, we are seeing greater clarity in the market.”

Mr. Wyler added, “In addition to several important customer wins during the first quarter, we are making significant strides toward our broader objective of advancing key strategic relationships including system integrator partnerships and OEM agreements. We believe that these catalysts, and our ability to capitalize on the opportunities that exist in the sector, position Optibase to continue growing as the market continues to mature.”

He concluded, “As we recently announced, Danny Lustiger is leaving Optibase after 11 years to become the CFO of Housing & Construction Holding Company. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Danny for his contributions to the Company and to congratulate Amir Philips on his promotion from VP Finance of Optibase Inc. to CFO of Optibase Ltd. Amir’s promotion is well deserved and gives me great confidence in the strength of our team as we move forward.”

Will Apple TV Will Bomb ?

Apple has finally begun shipping pre-orders of its Apple TV wireless set-top, according to news reports. The device can stream media stored on your PC to your TV including music, pictures and 720p High-Definition video.

The company has set the price at $299, but, accroding to Phillip Swan, publishr of SCRI's online partner, TV Predictions, it will ultimately have trouble giving them away. Swann goes on to write:

Yes, Apple TV will bomb -- and here's why:

1. Limited Uses
Apple TV can not receive or record cable or satellite signals, meaning it can not deliver the programming that 85 percent of Americans watch every night. The set-top also does not operate as a DVD player, which people are watching when they are not watching cable or satellite.

Now, you might argue that Apple can sell $1.99 episodes of cable or satellite programming, but thus far, the company has not been able to do that successfully on iTunes (or via the video iPod.) TV viewers have not demonstrated that they will pay for programs that could have been watched for free on broadcast networks or recorded for free on their DVRs when they originally aired.

2. Set-Top Fatigue
Americans are tired of buying set-tops for TV-based purposes. They already have a DVD player; a cable and/or satellite set-top; possibly a standalone TiVo DVR and/or DVD recorder; a video game console; and in some cases, a Audio/Video receiver connected to their TVs.

And now Apple is telling them to get another box so they can stream videos, music and photos from their PCs?

Fat chance -- even if the set-top will send the signals wirelessly; Americans have set-top fatigue.

3. Compatibility & Confusion
The device is set for a widescreen so it will not work with most older analog sets. But even more damaging, the device's concept is too confusing for most Americans. Buy a set-top that will sit in the corner and send files to my TV? Do you really see a large number of people in this country actually doing that? Come on, the Media Center PC, which the Apple TV emulates, has not taken off so why should Apple TV? Despite what some might think, this is not a tech-savvy nation.

4. Inconvenient
Apple TV requires you to download your content to your computer before you can send it to your TV. In other words, if you want to watch a music video from iTunes, you must first purchase it online, then download it, then store it on your Apple TV and then transmit it to your television. Sound like fun?

So, although the tech-intelligentsia will slobber over Apple TV and call it the Second Coming, Apple TV will fail to reach beyond the cultish Mac audience, probably topping off at about three million homes.

Other sources differ however. The Apple TV device will decide the future of the online movie download (OMD) business, according to The Diffusion Group.

"At this point, the entire online movie download sell-through market hinges on the success or failure of Apple TV," said Dale Gilliam, director of primary research at The Diffusion Group. "Without a way to stream movies to the TV, the OMD sell-through market remains little more than a niche/stop-gap between the DVD and a totally network-based distribution model where movie access is instant and physical media either does not exist or becomes part supplement and part novelty, like older technology often does."

Chain store Target is join Best Buy as the second major retailer to carry Apple TV boxes. But sources say checks with Best Buy reveal that the No. 1 U.S. electronics retailer's own Apple TV sales have had a relatively low level of interest from shoppers thus far -- in some cases leaving stores with the majority of their initial allotments.

Sinclair Reports Q1 Results

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. reported financial results for the three months ended March 31, 2007.

Commenting on the quarter, David Smith, President and CEO of Sinclair, stated, "We have made significant progress on our retransmission consent agreements and now have over 80% of the multi-channel video programming distributor subscribers in our markets under long-term contracts. For 2007, we are now estimating revenues from our retransmission consent agreements to be approximately $59 million as compared to $25.4 million last year, a 132% increase. This new revenue stream has helped to offset weakness in automotive ad spending, national agency buys for the MyNetworkTV programming and softness in the Ohio market. As we look forward to the remainder of this year, we are encouraged by the already large amount of funds raised by the Presidential candidates. With no incumbent running for the Presidency, we expect political ad spending to be more than the 2006 and 2004 levels with a portion of the spending occurring in the fourth quarter 2007 due to the many primaries that have been moved into early 2008."

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PRODUCT NEWS

Sony Unveils World's Smallest HD Camcorder

Sony introduced the world's smallest High-Definition camcorder, weighing just 15 ounces.

The new Handycam HDR-CX7, which retails for $1,200, can record nearly three hours of "Full 1080" video on an 8-GB Memory Stick PRO Duo media card.

The 15-ounce HD camcorder also provides a connection to a PC via USB cable for editing and backup.

Sony is hoping to tap the growing HDTV audience with high-def sets now in roughly 30 million U.S. homes. Millions of consumers now may be interested in shooting their home videos in high-def.

"Our models offer the added advantages of superior High-Definition picture quality," says Linda Vuolo, director of camcorder marketing at Sony Electronics.

The company yesterday also introduced two other new high-def camcorders:

The HDR-SR7, which retails for $1,400, can record more than 22 hours of 'Full HD' 1080 video on a built-in 60GB hard disc drive. The HDR-SR5, which retails for $1,100, can hold more than 15 hours of footage on a 40GB hard drive. The t

hree cameras support the AVCHD camcorder recording format, which is based on MPEG-4 video compression, and include built-in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound recording.

Sanyo HDTV Camcorder: $535 At Amazon

Sanyo's High-Definition video camcorder is now available for $535 at Amazon.com. That's roughly $200 less than the suggested retail price.

The Sanyo Xacti HD1A includes a 2.2-inch LCD monitor, a 10x optical zoom lens, a digital still camera and it records in MPEG4 high-def video.

Sanyo says the camera can display 720p HD (1280 x 720 pixels) at 30 frames per second, three times more pixels than standard conventional video camcorders.

The camcorder can record up to 21 minutes of 720p HD video per gigabyte on a standard SD card. It can also record up to one hour per gigabyte in standard definition.

The camera was first introduced in 2004 with a price tag of $799.

Toshiba Launches 1080p HD-DVD Player

Toshiba has begun shipping its new HD-DVD player that can display high-def movies in 1080p.

The HD-A20 retails for $499, which is roughly $500 less than the suggested retail price for rival Blu-ray players. (Note: Both Blu-ray and HD-DVD players can be purchased for less online.)

However, until this year, Toshiba players have not been able to display HDTV DVDs in 1080p. The company hopes the lower price on its new 1080p player will appeal to high-def enthusiasts who are demanding the highest resolution possible. (Toshiba's first 1080p player, the HD-XA2, which began shipping in January, costs $799.)

Sony says it will introduce a Blu-ray player for $599 this summer. Blu-ray players can display 1080p HD video.

The Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD high-def format war will soon enter its second year with no clear winner in view. However, Blu-ray titles have outsold HD-DVD discs by a 2-1 margin since January, according to Nielsen Video Scan. The development has led some to speculate that Blu-ray could be pulling away.

But Toshiba said yesterday that more than 70 new HD-DVD titles will be released between now and July, which will fuel greater interest in the format.

Toshiba's HD-A20 can also "upconvert" standard DVDs to near HD quality using a HDMI cable

Westinghouse: Big-Screen 1080p LCD For $1,499

Westinghouse said that next month it will sell a 42-inch 1080p LCD HDTV for $1,499, according to an article in TWICE magazine.

The publication reports that Westinghouse unveiled three new 1080p LCD sets yesterday -- all at prices below what most of their rivals are asking.

In addition to the 42-inch set, Westinghouse said it will sell a 47-inch 1080p LCD for $1,799 and a 52-inch 1080p LCD for $2,499.

The 47-inch set will also be available next month while the 52-inch model won't be shipped until August.

Rey Roque, Westinghouse Digital marketing vice president, tells TWICE that the sets will include four HDMI v1.2 inputs, Trident video processing and Thompson ATSC tuner chips.

"These models are all highly featured,” Roque said.

Westinghouse appears to be targeting the low-budget HDTV category which has been the home of Vizio over the last 12-18 months. Vizio also sells a 47-inch 1080p LCD for around $1,799.

Roque acknowledged that broadcast and cable channels are not broadcasting in 1080p, but he said "for gaming and computing applications we think that 1080p keeps you obsolescence proof, and we will be pushing our connectivity for that.”

The Westinghouse executive added that the company will continue to introduce 720p sets despite the introduction of the new 1080p models.

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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

Sinclair names new Director of Sales

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. announced that David Schwartz has been named Director of Sales for Sinclair.

Mr. Schwartz most recently and from 2004 served as General Manager of Sinclair's WSMH-TV in Flint, Michigan. From 2002 to 2004, Mr. Schwartz was Vice President and Director of Sales for Transit Television Network. From 1996 to 2001, he served as Vice President and Director of Sales for WRBW-TV in Orlando, Florida. Prior to that, Mr. Schwartz held various positions at the National Rep firms, Seltel and Petry, including 10 years as Senior Vice President/Director of Sales for Seltel.

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RESEARCH NEWS

CEA: 28 Percent of Homes Have HDTVs

The Consumer Electronics Association says High-Definition TVs are now in 28 percent of U.S. households.

The trade group, which represents electronics makers, also said there are roughly 35 million high-def sets in U.S. homes.

More than half of those sets are 40 inches or larger, the CEA said. The group added that another 16 million HDTVs will ship into the marketplace this year.

According to the CEA study, 86 percent of high-def owners say they are "highly satisfied" with their purchase.

However, a different CEA study found that some consumers are turning to the Internet to find more content.

“Consumers are finding and consuming enormous amounts of content each year,” says Joe Bates, CEA's director of research. “In 2006, consumers reported watching a total of 2.5 billion hours of video content at home each week with movies and TV shows being reported as most watched. Consumers acquire their content from the traditional paid services, but the study also revealed that an increasing number are connecting PCs in order to watch Internet videos and to view digital photos. This is particularly true of LCD TV owners.”

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