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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for October 9, 2002

Possibility of Legislation to Keep Record Companies Honest - An informal panel named the Joint Hearing of the Senate Committee and Senate Select Committee on the Entertainment Industry met late last month in Los Angeles. Attorneys for the major record labels testified that most of their performing artists are happy with their recording contracts. Not so, according to testimony from some of the artists also present. Artists are prevented by their contracts from showing their royalty statements to third parties, but Don Henley brought his - showing that Universal Music had held back more than the promised 10% "reserve" of records shipped, and had deducted a large amount for European free goods charges even though his contract called for no free goods distribution in Europe.

The wife of one of the Chambers Brothers claimed to have never received a royalty check from Columbia in 30 years. One of the popular Back Street Boys testified that his group has never  received a royalty check. The top artists usually don't make a fuss about the chronic under-reporting of royalties because they are well-treated by their labels and have other sources of income from appearances etc. It is the smaller artists who are victimized. Furthermore, only a very few auditors are licensed to inspect the record companies' books, and the artists must pay them in advance an average of $30K to $40K to start - no contingency. The senators made it clear that unless the major labels come up with a system of their own - agreeing to a penalty for the under-reporting of royalties - the senators are likely to introduce legislation of make the collection of royalties a fiduciary duty.

Thomson Wins Two Technical Emmy Awards - French-based Thomson has been awarded two Emmys for television achievements. One was for its development and commercialization of the 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio and the other for the development of the consumer digital set-top box for satellite and cable telecasting. Thomson first demonstrated in l988 that modified tube TV cameras could change their geometry to produce a 16:9 compromise widescreen image while leaving their basic signal intact. This enabled telecasters and video pros to create 16:9 images and handle them using their existing switchers, video recorders and signal processing equipment. In l992 Thomson introduced switchable CCD studio cameras which could tailor the aspect ratio to either 4:3 or 16:9 depending on programming needs. Now nearly 90% of TV cameras are thus switchable. The Thomson digital set-top box made possible the first nationwide high-power digital TV system - using MPEG standard compression - and provided features such as the electronic program guides and other interactive services.

Combination DVD-Recorder/Hard Disk Drive Introduced - Panasonic has begun shipping its DMR-HS2 DVD recorder, which is the first to couple DVD-R and DVD-RAM recording capability with a 40 GB hard disk drive. Up to 6 hours in EP mode can be recorded on a DVD-R disc (playable on most DVD players and DVD-ROM drives) and up to 52 hours on the hard drive. VCR-style timer options allow automatic time-shifting of programs to the hard drive.

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