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Thu 14 Jan 2010 04:00 AM

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The Avatar effect

This month sees the annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kick-off in Las Vegas.

This month sees the annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kick-off in Las Vegas.In addition to the 35 football fields worth of exhibition space, CES is also the venue for high-level industry discussions on the future of the digital entertainment industry.

Conference speakers include representatives from across the full spectrum of stakeholders including Sony, Panasonic, Dreamworks, Electronic Arts and AT&T.

The subject of many of these sessions however (four out of seven to be precise) is 3D. There are only two reasons why 3D should receive so much attention. Either 3D is far closer to becoming a mainstream everyday entertainment format, which – despite the recent success of Avatar – seems unlikely or alternatively, too many people are looking to jump on the 3D bandwagon.

Only two conference sessions at the entire event mention HD in the title. Even these are a little spurious with one leaning toward online delivery and other looking at incorporating widgets in TV services.

It is easy to get carried away with new technologies but the distraction caused by ‘the Avatar effect’ must be kept under control.

For the Middle East, 2010 is likely to be the year that we run out of fingers to count the number of HD channels available. This must remain the focus for broadcasters. Many technology heads will have seen their budgets cut last year and most likely this year also. However, HD migration is a business decision, not just a technical one, and the broadcasters that have committed to the format will have budgeted for it and the economic situation will not derail it. In the past six months, Orbit Showtime, Rotana, ADMC and Al Jazeera, have all confirmed that they will launch new HD channels in 2010.

The consumer electronics manufacturersmay be looking for the next big ticket item to sell to the public but for the broadcast community, there are still plenty of HD issues to clear-up.John Parnell is the deputy editor of Digital Broadcast.

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