>ENTERTAINMENT WATCH>

July 21, '01 (AP)

SIZE MATTERS:

-Force Int'l One-Ups EU Pressing Plants Over Botched CD's

"It was something out of Spinal Tap," said Force International's Andrea van Kuijk, "as when the Stonehenge dolman was made only 16-inches tall instead of the required 16 feet tall." In a classic Metric vs. English misunderstanding, hundreds of thousands of CD's (in fact 100% of this summer's production run) were pressed using only 12cm discs. "This is the size of discs destined for Europe and Asia," she explained, "but usually 65% are pressed using the 4.7-inch standard required for export to the UK and North America." The two standards are not compatible-discs manufactured to one standard will not play in CD players calibrated to the other standard.

In Brussels, Assistant Minister Henri Pinard said on Tuesday that action by the EU's Department of Popular Culture had dealt with the problem: "We've sent the CD's bound for export back thru the laser, and burned in some extra code that tells a CD player to play the disc even though it's sensing it's the wrong size. This eliminates the compatibility problem." Pinard and the Department were severely criticized earlier this spring over mishandling of a CD ink shortage crisis, but insisted that "we're very much on-top of this problem."

"Not good enough," comments Ms. van Kuijk, whose Force International manages Kilopop!, one of the musical groups whose summer release is effected by the error. "This code overlay process is not that reliable a technology, so we're taking extra steps such as verifying each and every export CD, plus stickering our discs so the consumer can instantly see if what they're buying is Metric or English. My advice to record buyers is 'Don't buy any CD unless it has this sticker'-otherwise there's a good chance it won't be compatible with your CD player."

-30-