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Scientific-Atlanta has storage in store

Scientific-Atlanta Inc., the cable industry’s second-largest manufacturer of TV set-top boxes, will introduce a new digital compression and storage system at the National Cable TV Assn. Show in San Francisco next week.

The product, called a Digital Storage and Retrieval System, will let cable operators easily insert ads electronically into programs, and ultimately provide movies-on-demand without being tied into a channel, such as Time Warner’s Home Box Office.

System specifics

The system consists of two computer boards that fit into a mid-range PC to play back compressed video and audio programs, and an encoder that compresses video to the Moving Picture Experts Group standard. The encoder, according to the company, takes a video signal and compresses it 4-to-1. The compressed data is then stored on computer hard drives, where ads are arranged for automatic insertion into programs using software.

The bottom line

The encoder will cost approximately $ 25,000, the two boards $ 2,000 apiece. Both products were developed by Scientific-Atlanta and will be available in the fourth quarter.

Robert Luff, vice president and general manager of new production applications for Scientific-Atlanta, said the DSRS will replace the current method of cable operators locating ads on videotape.

For movies-on-demand, Luff argues that “not everyone wants to watch the same titles nationally. Different regions may have different appetites.”

The pricing for compressed movies could be as low as $ 35,000 for 300 films recorded on digital tape.

Luff said the company is holding discussions with a number of potential customers.