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4/1/2009
06:48 PM
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In-Flight Entertainment Gets Tech Upgrade

Live news and information meet up with improved delivery systems in the sky.

Stale movies and TV shows -- the staple of airline flights for years -- will likely be disappearing soon, according to announcements Wednesday from two suppliers of in-flight entertainment offerings.

In-flight entertainment provider Thales and multiscreen media software provider ExtendMedia reported that they have formed a partnership to develop a platform so airlines can easily distribute a variety of video and audio entertainment to passengers. Also on Wednesday, Panasonic Avionics said it has signed contracts with five broadcasters to provide live news and information to airlines using its service.

The Thales-ExtendMedia platform will be based on ExtendMedia's OpenCASE platform, which delivers multiscreen content to PCs, televisions, and mobile devices used by passengers.

"Consumers want the same expansive media choices and flexibility in-flight as they do in their everyday lives," ExtendMedia CEO Tom MacIsaac said in a statement. "As we continue our international expansion, we expect that our solution with Thales will establish a new standard, in both cost efficiency and unique service capabilities, for in-flight entertainment."

Thales has been a major player in the in-flight entertainment systems market for more than a decade and provides its services to more than 1,000 aircraft. ExtendMedia will help monetize the offerings of its partnership with Thales.

Panasonic's service utilizes live broadcast television feeds. The broadcasters signing for Panasonic's Airline Television Network are Al Jazeera, BBC World News, the Bloomberg Television Network, Euronews, and France 24.

"We have structured the Panasonic Airline Television Network with the ability to add channels on a global or regional basis, depending on our customers' specific requirements and business needs," said Paul Margis, CEO of Panasonic Avionics.


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