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Thursday, March 05, 2009
Warner Bros to Support China's CBHD High-def Format

Warner Bros has announced plans to release movies in China in both China Blue High-definition Disc (CBHD) and Blu-ray formats.

The films will be available in China during the first half of 2009 and they will include the 'Harry Potter', 'Blood Diamond,' 'Golden Compass' and 'Speed Racer' titles.

According to a press release issued by Warner in China, the CBHD movies will cost 50~70 Yuan (about $7.25 to $10.15), while prices for the CBHD players will start at about 1,999 Yuan ($290).

Warner had decided to stop developing HD DVD movies in favor of the Blu-ray disc format in 2007.

According to estimations, 27 million Chinese households will have high definition TV sets in 2009, growing rapidly to 47 million in 2010 and 72 million in 2011. Warner is obviously trying to take advantage of this growth by offering movies in both the Blu-ray and CBHD formats.

The China Blue High-definition Disc (CBHD) format, which had been officially announced in 2007, is trying to find a way to the Chinese HD market.

In beginning of January at CES at Las Vegas/USA, a Chinese delegation that included the Chairman of TCL as well as the Chairman of China Record, had a couple of meetings with Hollywood studios including Warner Bros., asking them to support CBHD and release their titles with CBHD in China as soon as possible.

According to industry sources, Warner's answer was positive and CBHD supporters believed that something might happen in China at the ChineseNew Year (January 25). However, the Chinese AV manufacturers who are developing CBHD players could not launch their new models at the Chinese New Year due to some fatal error they discovered in the players. Now their new target shipping date is April, industry sources told

The CHDA format is backed by China High-definition DVD industry Association (CHDA), the Optical Memory National Engineering Research Center (OMNERC) the DVD Forum. The physical format of CBHD includes Chinese-owned intellectual property and it is based on Toshiba's HD DVD format.

CBHD is based on Blue laser and it is protected against piracy using the AACS content protection schemes, also used by the Blu-ray format.

The Chinese Government also backs the format. Under the current recession situation, the Chinese government has decided to subsidize many industries in China and has funded some manufacturers engaged in the CBHD format in order to accelerate the CBHD projects.

The reluctance of China to approve the Blu-ray format is possibly the main advantage of the CBHD against Blu-ray, at least for now. Despite the efforts of BDA China to actively cooperate with content providers and China's domestic DVD manufacturers as well as the significant discounts offered on the price of the BD players, the Blu-ray format has not yet been embraced by the Chinese government. Actually imports of Blu-ray discs are not permitted in mainland China yet.

The reason for that is mainly the fact that China has been trying to combat piracy, which has already hit the Blu-ray market in China. Currently, more than 500 Blu-ray titles are available in China, but actually they are copied versions of the original BD movies stored in DVDs using the AVREC recording systems.

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