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DTS To Target U.S. Cable, Broadcast Markets

MINNEAPOLIS – DTS is laying the groundwork for a 2003 marketing campaign that will promote its 5.1-channel surround format as a premium audio option for satellite and cable TV providers in the United States.

At a later date, the company will target the terrestrial-DTV and satellite-radio industries, marketing director Brian Caldwell told TWICE during the CEDIA Expo here.

DTS’s format is already an option on DVD-Video discs and has begun appearing on Playstation2 games.

Before actively promoting to the U.S. broadcast market, DTS will wait for the format’s formal ratification as an option to Europe’s DTV standard, DVB. That’s expected in November. “Once we’re part of DVB with a published spec, that will give us the credentials to talk to domestic broadcasters,” Caldwell said. DTS will launch its domestic effort in mid- to late 2003, initially to content providers, satellite providers and satellite-receiver makers, quickly followed by, or simultaneous with, an effort targeting the digital-cable industry, he said.

Satellite and cable providers have the bandwidth to add DTS at a data rate of 754kbps, and as they begin using their spectrum more efficiently, they can scale up DTS to a 1.5Mbps data rate, he said. Terrestrial DTV broadcasters, on the other hand, would likely initially offer 384kbps DTS given their bandwidth constraints, then scale up later, if the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) adopts DTS as an option, Caldwell said. The company has no timetable yet for promoting its algorithm to the terrestrial-DTV industry.

In Europe, satellite broadcasters approached DTS because they were looking for product differentiation, Caldwell claimed. Satellite set-top-box maker Kethrein of Germany will begin offering a satellite receiver with a DTS digital output by Christmas, he said. As with DVD players, the digital output will transport the DTS signal to DTS decoders in A/V receivers. Currently available set-top boxes, like early-generation DVD players, don’t pass through a digital DTS signal.

“The time is right to begin promoting DTS to the broadcast and cable industries because the household penetration of DTS decoders has grown significantly. In addition, DVD has increased consumers’ expectations of surround-sound quality, he said.