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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 07:54 GMT
Film studios snub Sony DVD format
Next-generation DVDs can store vast amounts of information
Three Hollywood studios have chosen to embrace next-generation DVD technology backed by Toshiba, snubbing a rival product promoted by Sony.

Paramount, Universal and Warner Brothers are to use a high definition DVD format backed by Toshiba and NEC.

Their decision is a setback for Sony which famously lost the battle to set a standard for video cassette recorders when its Betamax lost out to JVC's VHS.

Toshiba expects sales of HD-DVDs to hit 300bn yen ($2.9bn; 1.5bn) by 2010.

Clearer pictures

Next-generation DVDs can record an entire film in high definition format, ensuring sharper pictures.

We concluded that HD-DVD had several major advantages
Marsha King, Warner Home Video

The technology is expected to become widely available from 2006 onwards.

The studios' decision to back the Toshiba backed product is hugely significant because along with New Line Cinema - a Warner sister company which is also supporting the HD format - they account for about 45% of packaged DVD content.

Sony has been banking on its Blu-ray Disc technology which has, to date, won support from Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM Studios.

Universal is to release titles on Toshiba's HD-DVD format next year while Paramount said it would follow suit in 2006.

"We have done extensive research on Blu-ray and HD-DVD and we concluded finally that HD-DVD had several major advantages including in durability, reliability and manufacturing," Marsha King, general manager of Warner Home Video, told the Reuters news agency.

Competing formats

Sony also lost the most recent format war, when its DVD technology was snubbed by other Japanese equipment manufacturers.

This allowed Toshiba technology to become the current industry standard.

"We think this carries a great impact," said Yoshihide Fujii, a corporate senior vice president at Toshiba.

"There is strong desire in Hollywood for a single format."

Universal, Paramount and Warners said they would continue to work with the Blu-ray group, whose members also include Dell, Samsung and Matsushita.

Twentieth Century Fox said recently that it was evaluating both major formats.

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