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Four Studios Back Toshiba’s HD DVD Format

AP reports that Japanese electronics maker Toshiba Corp. is getting support from Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. and its sister studio New Line for its next-generation DVD format, HD DVD, to be launched at the end of 2005 in players, recorders and other products.

The Toshiba HD DVD format is competing against Sony Corp.s rival Blu-ray disc technology. Both formats promise increased storage capacity and movie resolution superior enough to get the most out of high-definition TV sets. Blu-ray, backed by Sony Pictures and presumably MGM, which Sony is purchasing with a consortium, can store more digital programming than HD DVD. But proponents of HD DVD say it will be cheaper for manufacturers because it is uses technology that more closely resembles that used in current DVDs.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic brand products, and other companies back Blu-ray, and News Corp.'s Fox Ent. Group Inc., which includes Twentieth Century Fox, is a board member of the association that backs Blu-ray. However, neither Fox nor Disney have committed yet to either format.

The lineup of movies is considered crucial to selling electronic products. But analysts say studios are likely to bring out films for whatever format that becomes the standard and are ultimately unlikely to be loyal to either format.

In separate statements released Monday, the four U.S. studios said they will offer titles in the Toshiba HD DVD format, but did not specify which titles or give other details.

Toshiba plans to start selling its first HD DVD products, a player and a recorder, and a laptop with a built-in HD DVD drive in late 2005.

Sony previously announced that Blu-ray would obviously be the format of choice for the 2005 launch of the next generation of PlayStation players.