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Studios Agree To China DVD Distribution

Hollywood, Calif. – In an effort to reduce piracy while better tapping opportunities in a huge market, Warner Home Video, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation said Wednesday they have signed a joint agreement to distribute DVDs in China.

Warner said it will use its relationships with retailers throughout China — through its CAV Warner Home Entertainment joint entertainment distribution venture with China Audio Video — to “provide a wide selection of high quality, competitively priced, Mandarin-language DVDs in more than 50 cities and up to 20,000 outlets.”

Paramount’s “Transformers” and DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek the Third” went on sale in China on Nov. 1 as the first titles distributed under the new partnership.

“The addition of two major Hollywood studios’ product in China – Paramount and DreamWorks Animation – further strengthens our efforts in building a legitimate video business in China,” stated Mark Horak, WHV Worldwide operations and new packaged media executive VP and general manager. “By providing a wide selection of high quality, competitively priced DVDs, we will be offering consumers a more attractive alternative to lower quality, pirated product.”

All three studios also happen to support the HD DVD format in the U.S., but there was no mention from the studios about plans to distribute new high-def discs under the agreements.

The DVD Forum is working on finalizing specifications for a China-only blue-laser optical disc format based largely on HD DVD specifications by the end of the year. The 9.9 spec was unveiled at the DVD Forum Japan Conference 2006 in October, and differs from HD DVD is just the modulation codec, opting for an FSM system at 4 data bi/6 channel bit modulation as opposed to HD DVD’s ETM codec at 8 data bit/12 channel bit modulation.

A group of Chinese manufacturers is using the physical format to develop a proprietary video format.