Columbia TriStar Television Distribution and Microsoft Sponsor Development Competition for Interactive Television

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 25, 2000 — Columbia TriStar Television Distribution and Microsoft Corp. are teaming to provide development support to the winner of a creative shootout, called the Microsoft TV Interactive Pitch, taking place this week at the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) 2000 trade show. The competition is designed to facilitate the creation and delivery of interactive television (ITV) programming content to viewers worldwide.

“The development of ITV programming is happening now, and we’re excited to be at the forefront,”
said Russ Krasnoff, executive vice president, Columbia TriStar Television Distribution.
“Microsoft and WebTV Networks, Inc. currently offer a very extensive testing ground for enhanced television today. This is a great relationship to develop the most creative and compelling interactive content.”

“Columbia TriStar recognizes the value and potential of ITV programming content,”
said Marty Behrens, group manager, TV Platforms Group at Microsoft.
“Microsoft is thrilled to be teaming with the powerhouse Columbia TriStar to jump-start creative content development. Microsoft is committed to providing the tools, partners and support for content developers to create the best ITV programming for TV viewers worldwide. It’s great to see that interest is growing rapidly among Hollywood’s leaders in ITV programming.”

“We are looking at how TV programming is going to converge with the Internet,”
Krasnoff said.
“We want to encourage the creative community to apply itself to create concepts that will work in both delivery systems. We are not looking at the Internet as competition, but as an exciting partner.”

This development opportunity between Microsoft and Columbia TriStar coincides with explosive demand for interactive television. Working with industry partners such as Big Ticket Television, Discovery Channel, HBO & Co. and MSNBC, WebTV Networks, a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, is currently offering more than 500 hours per week of ITV content via the WebTV Network TM Plus Interactive service for its more than 1 million subscribers.

In addition to Columbia TriStar, 12 other companies at the forefront of ITV will be reviewing and offering development support to the winners of the Microsoft TV Interactive Pitch event: Chyron Corp., ExtendMedia Inc., Film Roman Inc., Interactive Video Technologies Inc., Intellocity USA Inc., MPL2.COM, Network Nine Inc., Razorfish Inc., Screamingly Different Entertainment, Steeplechase Media Inc., Vertigo Multimedia and Voxxy Interactive Network.

About Columbia TriStar Television Distribution

Columbia TriStar Television Distribution is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company. Sony Pictures’ global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home video acquisition and distribution, operation of studio facilities, development of new entertainment technologies and distribution of filmed entertainment in 67 countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at .

About Microsoft TV Platform

The Microsoft® TV platform is a comprehensive software solution for the television industry that makes television more useful, fun and engaging for consumers and creates significant new economic opportunities for network operators and their suppliers of programming, hardware and software. The client software, Microsoft TV, operates a range of TV-centric appliances, from advanced set-top boxes to integrated televisions. Microsoft TV Server is a suite of software components that offers network operators the tools to provision, manage and operate a large-scale, commercial-grade enhanced TV service.

The Microsoft TV platform supports worldwide digital TV broadcast standards, including DVB, ATSC and ARIB. It also supports commonly used Internet standards such as HTML, JavaScript and Dynamic HTML, as well as all interactive content authored according to the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF) standard.

About WebTV Networks

WebTV Networks, Inc., is a leading provider of enhanced TV services using Internet and digital technologies. WebTV Networks offers a range of enhanced TV services for set-top boxes, satellite products and other TV-related devices. Today, these services include the WebTV® Classic Internet service, the WebTV Plus interactive service, and WebTV Personal TV service. WebTV Networks owns and operates a network of TV services and provides enabling software and hardware reference designs to consumer electronics manufacturers.

WebTV Networks, based in Mountain View, Calif., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp. Microsoft incorporates WebTV technologies in the Microsoft TV software platform, which it licenses to television network operators worldwide.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

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