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Samsung, Panasonic Offer HD Programs

Samsung and Panasonic in recent days each made HDTV programming announcements aimed at making more HDTV content available for dealers to generate interest in new digital television products.

Samsung said it will underwrite the cost of converting to the 1080i HDTV format, many of the movies appearing in the 1999/2000 season on the CBS Sunday Night Movie and CBS Wednesday Night Movie telecasts.

Panasonic, which previously announced plans to help ABC produce the Monday Night Football telecasts in the 720p HDTV format this season, said it will produce and broadcast to its dealers in four markets HDTV video coverage of the Panasonic Village Jazz Festival on August 30th, from 4-8 p.m.

Panasonic has arranged to shoot the concert from Washington Square Park in New York City, encode the footage into digital HDTV format and uplink the signal to a broadcast satellite. Unnamed digital broadcast stations in Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., will then broadcast the HDTV program to select Panasonic dealers in their markets.

Dealers authorized to carry the coverage in stores include: Ed Kellum and Son in Dallas, Tex.; Fry’s Electronics and The Good Guys in Los Angeles; Boscov’s, American Appliance, Romano Electric and Hi Fi House in Philadelphia and Myer-Emco in Washington, D.C.

Headliners featured in the telecast include Chick Corea & Origin and Regina Carter.

Meanwhile, CBS said it is taking a leadership position in HDTV broadcasting through its various underwriting deals with consumer electronics manufacturers. Ralph Dauria, an account executive for New York’s WCBS-TV, said the Samsung deal will cover feature films shot in 35mm film, but may not include certain made-for-TV movies that were produced prior to the agreement in formats that do not lend themselves easily to the HDTV conversion.

The deal is similar in structure to one CBS signed earlier with Mitsubishi. That agreement will result in the bulk of CBS’s primetime telecasts and the 1999 U.S. Open tennis coverage in the 1080i HDTV format.

CBS said that 18 owned and affiliated stations are currently broadcasting in digital formats, covering approximately 38% of the nation.

“By Nov. 1, CBS expects to be transmitting digital programming across approximately 35 owned and affiliated stations, reaching more than 50% of the country,” according to a statement released by the network.

Steve Panosian, Samsung digital products group senior marketing manager, said his company is currently working out joint retail promotions between select Samsung dealers and local CBS digital TV affiliates to develop in-market HDTV events to lure customers to stores to see CBS HDTV movie telecasts on Samsung sets.

Additionally, the deal will give credit Samsung’s HDTV sponsorship with a tagline announcement that will appear at the start and in the middle of a CBS movie telecast on both the analog and digital feeds. This will help Samsung generate brandname awareness while promoting HDTV broadcasting in general, Panosian said.