British Telecommunications Plc is developing a system to transmit newly released films direct to cinemas using digital signals relayed via satellite. The company said it would not reveal technical details without clearance from its partners but the basic principle would see digitally stored films transferred to a database and then distributed in the form of encrypted data sent by satellite to a central location in each country. Individual cinemas would then be able to order a particular title via computer, in a similar way to existing video-on-demand technology, and the film would be transmitted via fiber optic telephone lines. A spokesperson for BT says it has completed preliminary trials at a cinema in West London but would not elaborate further except to say it would be making an announcement with the as yet unspecified partners in early 1998. BT says the technology for the system is still under development but interested parties reportedly include Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks studio. The cinema industry could potentially save millions of dollars a year by replacing the costly system of distributing print versions of films around the world with video streaming technology.
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