Category Archives: TV

Time Warner suffer a loss for 2008

Time Warner have had to cut their forecast profit for 2008, largely due to the fact that the company has been forced to cut the value of their cable, magazine publishing and AOL businesses by $25 billion.  The cut in profit forecasts is the first time in the last six years that Time Warner has recorded a loss.

Time Warner shares have dropped by more than 6 per cent on Wednesday and analysts have declared that the coming year will be a tough one for the media sector in terms of the economic market.

Time Warner released a statement on the subject, blaming the loss in profits on the economic climate, saying, “The economic environment has proved somewhat more challenging than the company previously expected, particularly for the advertising businesses at the AOL and publishing segments.

“Due to this impairment charge, the Company expects that it will have an Operating Loss in 2008 as compared to Operating Income of $8.9 billion in 2007.  Also reflecting this impairment charge, Time Warner now expects to incur a net loss in 2008, compared to its prior outlook.”

Chief financial officer of Time Warner, John Martin, has claimed that there has been talks to increase the audience for AOL, saying, “We have been in discussions on again, off again as it relates to potential structural alternatives that could possibly get AOL greater scale.  We’d still be interested in doing something like that if we could do it.”

Time Warner’s shares have dropped by 50 per cent over the past few years and this drop makes up $15 billion of the write-down.  Time Warner are now declaring that they predict earnings from between $1.04 to $1.07 per share from operations this year.  However this figure is down from the previous forecast by the company which was between $1.07 to $1.11 per share.

Imran Khan of JPMorgan claims that, “We believe this reflects continued cyclical and secular pressures in print advertising markets as well as soft online advertising environment and continued turnaround efforts at AOL.”

Chief investment strategist at Prudential International Investments Advisers LLC, John Praveen, claims that reviewing forecasts in this way is something that has to be expected through the economic downturn.  “Companies are going to have to continue to adjust their forecasts until our current macro environment stabilizes.  General expectations were that we were probably going to see earnings disappointments and downgrades with the global recession.”

Time Warner also said in their statement that, “Time Warner now expects to incur a net loss in 2008, compared to its prior outlook, as provided on November 5, 2008, of Earnings per Diluted Share from Continuing Operations in the range of $1.04 to $1.07.  

“The Company is finalizing its 2008 financial results, but currently it still expects 2008 full-year Free Cash Flow will total around $5.5 billion, consistent with the outlook provided on November 5, 2008,” said Time Warner.

A fourth quarter financial review is expected to be announced on February 4th. 

 

 

 

Toshiba Strike Back with Near-High Definition Quality DVD Player

After a right pounding from Sony?s Blu-ray DVD format in the high-definition war that ended in early 2008, Toshiba has set up shop in the standard definition DVD market. The company has launched a new up-scaling DVD player, the XD-E500, which promises to deliver as near to HD-DVD as you can get, without it actually being HD.

Toshiba?s new US$150 XD-E500 features Toshiba?s new eXtended Detail Enhancement (XDE) technology, which increases up-conversion from 480i/p to 1080p, and also offers three user-selectable picture enhancement modes ? Sharp, Colour, and contrast – to help refine the video quality, according to Toshiba.

Sharp Mode offers improved detail enhancement, taking it one step closer to HD, Toshiba boasts. Edges are sharper and details in movies are more visible. As opposed to traditional sharpness control, XDE technology analyses the whole picture and adds edge enhancement exactly where it?s needed.

Colour Mode ensures the colours stand out with improved richness, with blues and greens appearing more lifelike, according to Toshiba. Colour Mode combines the improvement in colour with the detail enhancement of Sharp Mode and is perfect for outdoor scenes.

Contrast Mode is designed to make darker scenes or foregrounds more clearly, without the typical ?washing out2 that can occur with traditional contrast adjustment.

In addition to XDE, the XD-E500 incorporates key features found on most up-converting standard DVD players, such as HDMI-CEC, DivX certification, JPEG capability, and MP3 and WMA playback.

“XDE offers consumers a simple solution to add on to their HDTV purchase. XDE works with existing DVDs to deliver a near HD experience with enhanced detail and richer colours. Toshiba is delivering to consumers what they want — a high quality experience at an affordable price,” noted Louis Masses, Toshiba director of product planning.

Toshiba will be hoping to capitalise on the customers who are still reeling from HD disc battle with Blu-ray, as most consumers haven’t jumped up to more expensive format yet.

“It’s an interesting time for the market,” Ben Bajarin, director of the consumer technology practice for Creative Strategies, said.

“After [Toshiba's] HD DVD finally phased itself out and we noted that Blu-ray was the clear winner, we saw a lot of consumers who were saying, ‘When’s the right time for me to buy … and if so, what’s the right price?’” he added.

Bajarin doesn’t believe an HD up-converting device is going to be a long-term solution.

“We’re at 1080p now, and that’s going to continue to go up. With educated consumers, one of the main reasons the Sony PS3 Blu-ray player is so interesting is that it can be updated with software – so as new standards come out, they’ll be able to update their PS3 Blu-ray player with software so that it’s consistent with what’s available on the market at the highest levels,” he explained.

“Consumers already know Blu-ray is the winner, so I find it hard to believe that consumers will go out in larger numbers and buy a device that’s not Blu-ray,” Bajarin said.

P2P Next Project Seeks Beta Testers

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Testers are being sought for technology that will allow television to migrate the net. The P2P Next project has created a beta version of software that can stream video across a file-sharing network.

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The European Union has sunk 19 million Euros into the project, hoping that the software the team creates can be used to create a Europe-wide online broadcasting standard. The P2P Next team are looking for thousands of volunteers to sign up to give the technology a suitable test.

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Many broadcasters, such as the BBC with its iPlayer, are already using the internet to allow viewers to catch up on programmes they have missed. Most of these systems use a central server that streams the programmes to user?s computers.

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However, most believe that to deliver this kind of TV through the net would be unsustainable when large audiences go online to watch shows.

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In an effort to create a system that can facilitate a large number of users, the SwarmPlayer uses the widely used BitTorrent peer-to-peer technology. In this type of system, those watching a video share data as they are downloading with other users (peers), who want to watch the same show online.

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The SwarmPlayer lets people download TV shows to watch later, lets users watch video?s as they are being downloaded and can even handle live broadcasts. The P2P Next project wants thousands of testers to install the software to see how the system copes with large numbers of people watching, to see if picture quality suffers as a result.

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Windows and Linux versions of the software are available with a Mac version due soon.

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To be involved you must have a broadband net connection speed of at least 600kpbs or higher. The P2P Next project is expected to run for four years, and the SwarmPlayer is likely to be the first of many prototypes they produce.

ITV Jump Into Bed With iTunes

ITV and iTunesAs the market for downloading content becomes more and more competitive we are seeing a number of battle lines being drawn. Tesco have made their play for the download music market, aiming to take substantial share from leader iTunes, but now iTunes have hit back via a deal with ITV. So what is on offer for the consumer?

ITV have put their toe into the water via a deal which will 260 hours of the archive content made available for download via the iTunes system. The shows in question include Brideshead Revisited, Cold Feet, Captain Scarlet (all available now) with Inspector Morse and The Saint due to come online later this year.

The deal allows users to download either the whole series or individual shows for a cost of just ?1.89 per show. While the move seems to have placed ITV firmly in the iTunes camp, there may be a little more to this than meets the eye!

While we have little news on the venture, ITV, the BBC and Channel 4 are all working together to bring a new on-demand service to the market which will be called Kangaroo. The service is due to be launched later this year and is expected to make over 10,000 hours of content available to customers. The pricing structure and exact details of the service have yet to be fully unveiled but it will eventually become a competitor to the likes of iTunes.

This is perhaps the reason why ITV have only made 260 hours of content available for the iTunes venture (although there are plans to add more in due course). It seems that ITV are very much hedging their bets in case the Kangaroo venture is not as successful as hoped. However, if the three main content providers in the UK are unable to make on-demand TV work, then the sector is dead in the water!