Sony to Set Up California Center for HDTV Research
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sony Corp. of America said today it is establishing an Advanced Video Technology Center to conduct research on high-definition television systems and to emphasize its commitment to a U.S. technology base.
The company said the facility at Sony’s present technology and engineering center in San Jose, Calif., will serve as a focal point for development of advanced television technologies, with emphasis on research and development for high-definition TV program production and post production.
The company said the center ″represents another aspect of the company’s longterm commitment to building an extensive U.S. engineering and manufacturing base.″
″Sony’s approach to technology development is global,″ said Masaki Morita, chairman of Sony America. ″At the same time, we recognize that many contributions are local.″
Sony Corp. of America is among dozens of companies that have applied for $30 million in HDTV research funds being made available by the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.
The announcement last month that Sony was among the bidders caused considerable reaction on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers said they didn’t want to see U.S. tax dollars going to foreign companies to develop a U.S. HDTV industry.
Japan’s Sony Corp. is a leader in the development of HDTV technology and already has unveiled HDTV VCRs, cassettes and receivers. Japanese industry overall has a large lead over U.S. concerns in developing HDTV, which promises motion picture quality images and compact disc quality sound and is expected to be a $50 billion industry by the year 2000.
William Connolly, president of Sony’s advanced systems group, said today’s announcement had nothing to do with the DARPA controversy.
″It’s not a reaction to DARPA. It’s part of a longterm plan,″ Connolly said in a telephone interview.
However, Connolly acknowledged that were Sony to receive U.S. funds for HDTV research, the studies would take place at the San Jose facility.
He said there was considerable public misunderstanding about the DARPA proposal. DARPA made clear to applicants that the funds were to be used to develop technology that could be mass-marketed and that the technology would be turned over to the U.S. government, Connolly said.
Sony made ″two very attractive offers″ seeking ″less than $10 million,″ and it would have involved a transfer of technology from Sony to the government, he said.
″This was more of a good will or outreach program on our part,″ Connolly said, ″to allow the U.S. government to own and take advantage of the techniques we had developed over the years.″
Prior to consolidation in San Jose, Sony had operated the Sony Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif., together with an engineering and technical support facility in San Jose.
The center since 1980 has actively supported HDTV development efforts in Japan and has undertaken some direct HDTV work, Sony said.
Connolly said the new center will develop products for the motion picture and TV industries. He pointed to a recent agreement with Panavision, a major manufacturer of 35mm movie cameras, to adapt Sony HDTV cameras for motion picture production as an example of the kinds of ″joint product development opportunities″ Sony was seeking.
Connolly also is a top official with the 1125-60 Group, a coalition of Japanese and American firms that supports the so-called 1,125 scan-line, 60 frame rate HDTV production standard. Sony for a number of years has produced studio production and editing equipment based on the 1,125-60 standard.
Connolly emphasized that Sony still supports that standard although a number of U.S. broadcasters seem to be backing away from it in the face of adamant opposition from European companies that want a standard based on a 50 frame rate.
″It’s still a valid ... standard in full force and there are a number of companies, like Panavision, who wish to take advantage of the euqipment that’s available now,″ he said.