Vegas CES Adds ITV Flavor

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Interactive television companies that showed their wares at the recent Western Cable Show in Los Angeles get another chance to promote the category at the retail-centric International Consumer Electronics Show, which opens Saturday (Jan. 6) at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Consumer Electronics Association vice president of events and conferences Karen Chupka said 110,000 people are likely to attend the show. About 40 percent of those on hand are expected to be retailers.

Planned are keynote addresses from America Online Inc. interactive-services group president Barry Schuler and Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates.

Conference-session topics planned for the show include broadband, digital television, home networking and convergence product retailing. A separate "Digital Hollywood" track will focus on content, including ITV, electronic commerce and broadband Web sites.

Federal Communications Commission commissioner Michael Powell will meet in a Saturday public forum with CEA president Gary Shapiro to discuss such policy issues as digital television, broadband deployment and the "digital divide." On Sunday, FCC commissioner Susan Ness and several members of Congress will discuss the legislative impact of the new Congress on digital television and other communications technologies.

Cable set-top vendor Scientific-Atlanta Inc. will attend the CES for the first time this year. The company plans to showcase its recently announced Kodak Picture Channel in partnership with Eastman Kodak Co., as well as its video-on-demand technology.

Direct-broadcast satellite providers DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp. will highlight their advanced technologies at the show, including high-definition television capable receivers and integrated DBS/personal video recorders.

DirecTV also plans to offer more details about its purchase of digital subscriber line provider Telocity Inc. Also prominent at the DirecTV booth will be Microsoft Corp.'s "UltimateTV" system, which combines two DBS tuners, Internet access and a PVR. The product is expected to ship to retailers early this month.

EchoStar plans to unveil a new DBS receiver with a built-in hard drive. The company has had much success over the past year with its "DishPlayer" system, which combines a DBS receiver, PVR and a WebTV Internet-over-television service.

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