Four Bidders Left in the Battle for BBC Broadcast

The British Broadcasting Corp. has announced the final four bidders for BBC Broadcast, the division to be sold in September. Industry giant Thomson/Technicolor Entertainment is the only broadcast and electronics-industry company to make the list, joined by Apax Partners, a venture-capital firm; Exponent Private Equity, a UK-based buyout firm; and Macquarie Group, an Australia-based investment house. The BBC says it will now enter into detailed negotiations with the four companies. BBC Broadcast handles program playout and new-media operations for the BBC and other UK- and Europe-based networks.

Hotels Go Hi-Def

HDTV addicts longing for sharper resolution while on road trips will have a chance to get their fix, thanks to HBO. The network inked a deal last week with LodgeNet Entertainment, a hotel video-services company, for the distribution of HBO HD to hotel rooms across the country. The agreement follows an announcement that Marriott will add 50,000 LG Electronics HDTV 32-inch flat-panel sets to rooms at Marriott, JW Marriott and Renaissance hotels over the next four years. HD fans should plan visits to the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center and the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, the first two of the chain's hotels to add HD sets.

I Want My PVR

Any TV company not looking at ways to address the personal-video-recorder market might want to get moving. A new report from In-Stat (a sister division of B&C) reports that the number of personal video recorders (PVRs) in the U.S. climbed from 4.6 million in 2003 to 11.4 million in 2004.

The report, “TV Time-Shifting on the Rise: Worldwide PVR Unit Shipments More Than Double in 2004,” says that cable-TV set-top-box–based PVRs are flying off shelves, as well as satellite-TV set-top–box products and DVD recorders with built-in hard-disk drives. In-Stat also reports growth in worldwide PVR-related revenue (the U.S. and Japan account for 88% of the market) from $2.1 billion in 2003 to more than $4.3 billion in 2004.