Report: Paramount to back Blu-ray

<i>Financial Times</i> says movie studio has the option to switch camps in wake of Warner's decision; studio reiterates HD-DVD stand.

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Things are heating up in the HD DVD versus Blu-ray format wars--and it's no longer looking like the stalemate that Sony CEO Howard Stringer declared two months ago.

At the end of last week, Warner Bros. announced that it had decided to back Blu-ray--and now there are rumours that because of this move, Paramount and possibly DreamWorks Animation won't be far behind.

Today's Financial Times reveals that according to its sources, Paramount is "poised to reveal" it will be abandoning the HD DVD format in order to go Blu-ray exclusive.

The article states, "Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, is understood to have a clause in its contract with the HD DVD camp that would allow it to switch sides in the event of Warner Bros. backing Blu-ray."

The newspaper believes that this would be the "death knell" for HD DVD and would see the format "likely to suffer the same fate as Sony's now obsolete Betamax video technology, which lost out to VHS in a similar format war in the 1980s."

Blu-ray is currently backed by 20th Century Fox, MGM, Walt Disney, and most recently Warner Bros.; if Paramount jumps ship, Universal will be left as the biggest HD DVD backer.

However, according to a later report from Bloomberg, Paramount has denied that it will be making the move. Brenda Ciccone told the financial Web site, "Paramount's current plan is to continue to support the HD DVD format." Toshiba spokesperson Keisuke Ohmori called the report "speculative," while Sony declined to comment.

The rumours had an immediate effect on the stock market--Toshiba's stock fell 0.1 percent to close at ¥782 ($7.17), though during the day the shares had dropped as much as a 1.3 percent, whereas Sony's rose 3.4 percent.

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