Digital day at int’l confab

BERLIN — More than half a million visitors are expected to attend this year’s Intl. Consumer Electronics & Media Fair (IFA), which takes place Saturday through Sept. 7 in Berlin.

Exhibition space was increased by 30% this year to accommodate a record 812 exhibitors from 33 countries. IFA has evolved, organizers note, from its former role as a “specialist trade show for consumer electronics into a comprehensive display for telecommunications and information technology, as well as being a preeminent media event.”

While visitors browse among displays of state-of-the-art television, stereo and computer equipment, they also will have the chance to the check out digital TV services. Digital pay TV was launched in Germany more than a year ago, but it currently reaches only 0.1% of German households.

Pay TV web Premiere — now in the process of switching from analog to digital technology — hopes that demonstrations of options such as pay-per-view and multiplexing will entice new customers, and encourage current subscribers to trade in their analog set-top box for a digital decoder.

No extra cost

Pubcaster ARD also will demonstrate a digital version of its normal programming, which became available today at no extra cost to households with digital decoders.

Other highlights at this year’s IFA include the introduction of the first German digital video archive, sponsored by Siemens Nixdorf and commercial web SAT1, as well as the much-anticipated European launch today of DVD, coordinated by Warner Home Video.

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