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Warner To Launch DVD-Audio Nov. 7

NEW YORK -- Warner Music Group, the first major music company to unveil its DVD-Audio plans, announced a Nov. 7 street date for seven titles at a suggested $24.98, and it promised a "steady flow" of new titles every month.

Despite the announcement, Warner's four main rivals declined to comment on their rollout plans. At least two of them, Universal and BMG, are still negotiating with the 4C entity over terms for licensing the format's CSS2 encryption technology. 4C, which selected the encryption technology, consists of IBM, Intel, Toshiba and Matsushita.

Said a BMG spokesman, "We look forward to [offering] DVD-Audio as soon as licensing issues are addressed."

Universal declined to comment about its plans but nonetheless said the company is "excited" about the format's potential. Universal and 4C, however, are still resolving what one music industry marketer called "complex licensing issues."

Sony Music and EMI also declined comment, although a Sony spokeswoman said, "We have a few things in production."

Warner, which has aggressively supported the format, confirmed that it and 4C came to terms.

Warner's seven titles include rock and classical albums and one jazz title, all available to Warner's brick & mortar and online retailers, including Amazon.com, said Jordan Rost, Warner Music's senior VP of new technology. All are catalog titles.

They are Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 conducted by Daniel Barenboim with the Staatskapelle Berlin; Core by Stone Temple Pilots; Tigerlily by Natalie Merchant; Johann Strauss in Berlin conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt with the Berlin Philharmonic; and Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Also, Hommage a l'Orchestre Lamoureaux: Chabrier's Espana & Ravel's Bolero, with Orchestre Lamoureaux conducted by Yutaka Sado; and The Bedroom Mixes by the Jazz at the Movies Band.

Later in November, Warner will release The Corr's latest album In Blue.

Other artists whose work is scheduled for DVD-Audio release include Barenaked Ladies, Buena Vista Social Club, Tracy Chapman, Alice Cooper, Olu Dara, Miles Davis, Deep Purple, The Doors, Firesign Theatre, Bela Fleck and Fleetwood Mac. Also: Foreigner, Fourplay, Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, k.d. lang, Zubin Mehta, Metallica, Pat Metheny, Luis Miguel, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Rod Stewart and Take 6.

To stimulate sales of its DVD-Audio discs, Warner will include a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on all DVD-Audio discs, making them playable on existing and future DVD-Video players and DVD-ROM drives connected to either a two-channel or multichannel sound system.

Each disc will also contain a higher-quality Advanced Resolution multichannel mix that can be played back only through DVD-Audio players or through combination DVD-Audio/Video players.