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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for August 28, 2002

First Universal SACDs In Two Weeks - The first dozen SACDs from Universal Music will be released September 10. Music retailers have been ordering for a couple weeks to be ready for the launch, which brings the world's biggest family of labels into the SACD fold. Some of the titles: Diana Krall - The Look of Love, John Coltrane - A Love Supreme, Bryn Terfel Sings Wagner Arias, Andrea Bocelli - Cieli di Toscana, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Ivan Fisher - Slavonic Dances, Muddy Waters - Folk Singer, Seiji Ozawa and Vienna Philharmonic - New Year's Concert 2002, Getz & Gilberto, A Beautiful Mind soundtrack. It is not known if any of the first releases are multichannel or if they are all stereo.

Net Downloads Not Cause of Lower Music Sales - A recent report from Forrester Research shows that the Net downloading of music is not responsible for the 15% downturn in music sales in general, even though the number of MP3 downloads now is greater than the number of actual physical CDs sold. A number of working commercial downloadable music sites are now in operation and generating considerable income. BMG and AOL are big names here, but everyone is taking a different route to charging for downloads and handling copyright, royalties etc. Forrester predicts that a standard agreement on downloadable music may not occur until 2005. So what is the major cause of lost revenue by the record industry? Organized large-scale piracy. Some might also opine that a contributing factor is the lousy state of pop music today.

Mandate on Digital TV Tuners - The FCC has voted to require all TV manufacturers to install digital off-air tuners in all TV sets offered for sale by July of 2007. They are also considering heavy "broadcast flag" protection of HDTV transmissions to prevent them being stolen and re transmitted by pirates. The Consumer Electronics Association is not at all happy with the requirement, pointing out that only 10% of viewers depend on over-the-air telecasts - the rest using cable or dish. Some analysts question the government's giveaway to local stations of the major chunk of the spectrum for DTV when very little programming of consequence comes from local stations anymore. They feel the very bumpy transition to HDTV would have gone much more smoothly if it had focused on satellite services and cable and just ignored the local telecasters. (On the other hand, some of us are not comfortable paying the high monthly charges for either dish or cable HDTV service, especially when we never have time to watch all those channels anyway. Personally I'm going to get a DTV tuner for my HDTV-ready set, hook it to an outdoor antenna (remember those?) and occasionally watch the considerable amount of free, highest-resolution HDTV programming provided by our local stations, including the PBS outlet.)


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