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DEG Elects Board and Sets Sights on New Mission

9 Sep, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik

The newly rechartered Digital Entertainment Group (formerly the DVD Entertainment Group) will leverage its position as a trade group that includes both entertainment software and hardware companies to tackle the major challenges facing the ever-evolving digital entertainment industry. Those challenges include high-definition technologies and other packaged goods issues, as it enters a new fiscal year with an expanded staff and other new initiatives, said Bob Chapek, president of Buena Vista Home Entertainment upon the group's reelecting him as its president.

The DEG recently elected a new board of directors and an executive committee, formed new committees and appointed a full-time executive staff to manage the day-to-day operations of the trade organization.

Joining Chapek on the executive committee are: Joe Stinziano, Sony Electronics GM of home audio/video, who takes over as VP of the trade group; Sandy Friedman of DreamWorks Home Entertainment, re-elected the DEG's secretary; and Artisan Home Entertainment president, sales and marketing, Jeff Fink, also reelected to his position as DEG's CFO. Emiel Petrone, EVP of Philips Corporate Alliance Group, remains as the chairman of DEG, a position he has held since the group was formed in 1997.

The DEG also appointed Amy Jo Donner as executive director of the trade group, and Emily Bradley as associate director. Donner and Bradley have been working with the DEG in similar roles as part of Cohn & Wolfe, a public relations firm, which had been contracted up to this point by the DEG to manage what has been primarily a PR and promotions effort by the DEG. Both Donner and Bradley will be leaving Cohn & Wolfe. Marc Finer will join the new team as technical director.

Chapek said last week that the organization's primary goal in this next fiscal year, which began Sept. 1, is to create a structure to “open up the communication lines” between hardware and software companies, revenue streams for both of which rely so heavily on the continuing successful launch of new formats and new technologies, he said. The former DVD Entertainment Group was initially formed primarily as a group to promote the successful consumer adoption of the DVD format. “But as DVD hits 50 percent of U.S. households, that mission becomes something of a secondary opportunity for the group,” Chapek said.

Next-generation high-definition technologies and digital rights management issues are two significant areas the DEG could bring its membership together to discuss, Chapek said. He acknowledged that there has been a great deal of individual discussion between various software and hardware suppliers, but “very little communication across all interests to understand everyone's issues.”

The goal, Chapek said, was not that the DEG will attempt to codify some consensus for industry standards on any hardware or software protocols, but only to seek to ensure that the development of next generation digital entertainment products are built with maximum communication between parties and that the results are “consumer preferred technologies” that hopefully avoid multiple format situations.

“We're limiting our scope more towards packaged media solutions, but ultimately it could be expanded to include other digital delivery methods as well,” Chapek said. “The goal is not to say that everybody is going to jump on one technological bandwagon. Obviously, everyone is free to pursue whatever technology they want.”The DEG has a Retail Advisory Panel made up of leading retailers in the entertainment space that, while not members of the DEG, are providing input to the group on retail perspectives to new technologies.

Meanwhile, the DEG also established three committees, which will generate much of the working groups looking at various issues. These include a technology committee looking at high definition and other issues; a content committee, which will be involved in digital rights management and other issues; and a communications committee taking up much of the public relations and market communications efforts.

The DEG's board of directors for 2003-2004 are: Gary Bauhard, director of marketing, Pioneer Electronics; David Bishop, president and COO, MGM Home Entertainment; Paul Bishow, VP, market development, Universal Music Group; Jim Cardwell, president, Warner Home Video; Tim DiGioia, director of marketing for audio/video products, Thomson; Steve Einhorn, president and COO, New Line Home Entertainment; Marshall Forster, EVP, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment; Tommy Inagaki, GM, consumer video division, JVC; Craig Kornblau, president, Universal Studios Home Video; Tom Lesinski, president, Paramount Pictures Worldwide Home Entertainment; Jodi Sally, director of marketing, Toshiba America Consumer Electronics; Reid Sullivan, VP, entertainment group, Panasonic Consumer Electronics; Peter Staddon, SVP, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

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