A Monday ayem panel at the American Film Market sought to find a place for independent films in the coming 500-channel universe; however, most of the discussion at “Movies on Demand: Are They Really in the Fast Lane on the Information Highway?” was devoted to giving the audience a crash course on digital compression, video-on-demand and black boxes.The most salient moment of the event occurred when an audience member asked whether producers might find new revenue streams if they withheld rights for video-on-demand from the studios and negotiated their own deals for ancillary markets such as satcasting and pay-per-view. But panelist Robert Klingensmith, president of the video division of Paramount Pictures, put a quick end to any dreams that indie producers might have had of withholding rights from the majors, saying, “Since we spend roughly $ 15 million during a two-week period to market a product and make it a household word, we expect to get benefits from our marketing efforts all the way down the line.” Earlier in the proceedings, though, several of the panelists said video-on-demand could be a boon for independent producers and distributors, just as other niche events such as local sports and highbrow artistic fare may also find a viable audience through PPV. Many of the participants’ opening remarks were informative as they covered some of the actual applications for interactive. Panelist Paul Wedeking, Times Mirror’s VP of multimedia and interactive services, injected some cold reasoning to the proceedings when he outlined several major barricades to 500 channels becoming a reality before the year 2000 . He said stumbling blocks are disagreement on industry standards and failure to make the menus and consumer navigation systems more fun.
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