Technicolor’s Digital Cinema Hub In Singapore Is Not The News It Seems

By Patrick von Sychowski | December 4, 2007 2:14 am PST

Timed to coincide with CineAsia, news goes out that Technicolor is to set up a digital cinema hub in Singapore. This announcement is a great success for the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), which together with the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA), has been working for several years to make the city-state the digital hub of Asia. But is it really news?

The article, which reads like a barely re-written press release, goes into detail:

Thomson said in a new release on Tuesday that the Singapore facility will provide ‘physical and electronic forms of content delivery, distribution and mangement [sic] systems and equipment monitoring’.

‘Thomson recognises Singapore’s commitment to the digital media and entertainment idnustry and believes there will be tremendous value in utilising their robust infrastructure to expand our digital cinema service offerings into the Asia-Pacific region,’ said Mr Curt Behlmer, VP, COO of Technicolor Digital Cinema, Thomson.

‘Digital cinema is growing at a very rapid pace, and we look forward to supporting studio and exhibitor customers as they begin to roll out digital cinema in Singapore and Asia-Pacific.’

But it misses the main story. Read the article carefully and you will see that the only time Technicolor is mentioned by name is when it crops up in Mr Behlmer’s title, though here too Thomson is appended. Is Thomson keen not to give Technicolor credit for this move, in the ongoing split corporate personality that is Thomson/Technicolor? The actual press release does mention Technicolor Digital Cinema.

As far as ‘news’ this makes little sense, given that Technicolor has already established Technicolor Network Services across two locations in Singapore under its own name/banner, as part of Thomson’s collaboration with SingTel dating back to 2005, of which this is presumably a service extension. Otherwise, why did the more than two year old press release talk about “service offerings [that] will include point-to-point and point-to-multipoint distribution of content that includes digital cinema distribution services to theaters.”

The real news here is that IDA has agreed to pay for part of the setting up and maybe even running costs of the NOC, either in the form of direct grants, tax breaks or use of land/space/facilities. So this is in many ways the same as many other developing nations providing special economic zones (SEZ) to provide incentives for major corporations to set up sweatshops, or in this case information hubs. What is also interesting is that there is no mention of SingTel any more, though they may still be a silent partner. Notice further that unlike Technicolor’s first digital cinema centre outside of US, which was the belatedly opened UK centre near Heathrow for all of Europe, there is no talk of a mastering operation here.

Patrick von Sychowski
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