Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oracle Holds Talks on Creating National Digital Video Service

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oracle Holds Talks on Creating National Digital Video Service

Article excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO _ Oracle Corp., a leading maker of software for managing large computer data bases, is in discussions with several telephone, computer and news organizations to create a nationwide digital video service that would let users of personal computers customize their own video newscasts or conduct on-line research from video news archives.

The discussions, which are not complete, have involved the long-distance carriers AT T and MCI Communications, the chip maker Intel and the news organizations CNN and Reuters, among other companies, according to people familiar with the plans.

The Oracle service would seek to give desktop computer users much greater flexibility than offered by various video broadcast news services now available from Dow Jones and Bloomberg Business News, among others.

The Oracle service would offer news clips digitally stored on a network "server" computer, meaning the clips could be searched according to subject matter and retrieved in any order, similar to the way people now use computers to sort through text-based news wires and data bases.

An NBC news service called NBC Desktop Video, now being introduced, has similar ambitions. With this service, digital video news feeds are broadcast throughout the day to corporate customers, who can distribute the material through their office computer networks or store it for later retrieval by employees.

NBC also sends its customers the material in a form that can be archived for custom-made multimedia data bases, which can be searched by subject. But so far, because of the limited data-carrying capacity of most office computer networks, the archives contain only still images, not full-motion video.

And NBC Desktop Video does not yet offer customers remote access to its own video-server archive, which is capable of storing full-motion video, though the company plans to offer such access eventually.

The Oracle concept is similar to the interactive television programming planned by cable and telephone companies, in which viewers of evening newscasts and other programs are supposed to have much greater choice in deciding what they watch and when they watch it.

Oracle has also been promoting its software for use in these digital interactive systems, and already has such deals with Bell Atlantic and US West. Oracle has also discussed the development of interactive television news data bases with Capital Cities/ABC Inc. and Washington Post Co.

One analyst, Paul Saffo, said that while many people in the computing and telecommunications industries were assuming that movies-on-demand would help finance a range of new interactive digital services to the home, digital video news that can be customized might be a more compelling offering.

"This is going to reinvent the news industry," said Saffo, a director of the Institute for the Future, an industry research and consulting firm in Menlo Park, Calif. …

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