Toshiba denies HD DVD speculation

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TOKYO -- Toshiba Corp. on Monday denied that any final decision had been made on the future of its HD DVD format.

"There have been many reports in the media over the weekend, but Toshiba has not made a decision on the future of the HD DVD and we are currently assessing the market and reviewing future strategy," company spokeswoman Junko Furuta said.

The statement followed Wal-Mart's Friday announcement that it plans to stop selling HD DVD players in its 4,000 U.S. stores.

The company's HD machines have been slipping behind the rival Blu-ray Disc format championed by Sony Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Hitachi Ltd., Sharp Corp. and five major Hollywood movie studios. Microsoft and Intel back HD DVD along with manufacturer Toshiba.

If Toshiba does decide to withdraw its system, Blu-ray Disc would stand unopposed as the next-generation DVD system.

Until the end of last year, the two systems were selling virtually the same number of machines, with 370 movies on the market. Since then, however, 90% of sales have been of Blu-ray Disc units.

In January, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. became the fourth of the six largest U.S. studios to side with Blu-ray, when it announced that it would no longer release its titles in both formats.

Production costs of the HD system are reportedly cheaper than Blu-ray Disc, but the Sony-backed disc has a superior storage capacity. The two formats are not compatible.

The Toshiba board of directors is expected to make a decision on the future of HD DVD before the end of the week.
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