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HDTV Of Definite Interest

Though high-definition tv never really took off as an issue at this year’s MIP-TV, curious buyers and sellers flocked to the Media Intl. Corp. stand to watch the latest HDTV programming in the Japanese Hi-Vision standard.

World Cup soccer, a documentary on the treasures of the British Museum, and Zbigniew Rybczinski’s “The Orchestra” were a few of the programs on view at MICO’s stand, the busiest at the market.

The debate about which European HDTV standard to adopt and how much of the expense to upgrade the broadcast format should be passed on to the consumer failed to ignite much corridor conversation at MIP. HDTV programming, however, proved to be a strong draw.

Noriyuki Kurosawa, a Hi-Vision production exec at NHK, said buyer interest in Hi-Vision programming at the market has been “greater than we expected.”

“Many of the buyers that visited our stand said they expected Hi-Vision to eventually be adopted as the worldwide high-definition standard, so they’re starting to consider stocking up on programming and learning more about the technology. I got the impression at this market that we’re really on the verge of a breakthrough in consumer awareness and availablity of the technology,” said Kurosawa.

Because most broadcasters don’t have the equipment to broadcast in Hi-Vision, buyers can purchase a Hi-Vision program in the Pal or Secam standard and retain Hi-Vision rights for the future, he said.

NHK execs were deluged with pitches for co-producing Hi-Vision programming, Kurosawa claims.” We’ve been flooded with offers at MIP to co-produce high-definition programming. Some are good, some are not so good. We’ll sort them out when we get back to Tokyo.”

Per Kurosawa, the network produces some 1,000 hours of Hi-Vision programming per year. That figure includes plenty of filler to round out the daily hour of Hi-Vision programming aired by NHK on 150 screens scattered throughout Tokyo.

The Japanese may have the lead on HDTV production and be able to invest seemingly unlimited amounts of cash in developing a strong programming library. But the Europeans are catching up fast.

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