Toshiba to exit HD DVD, end format war-NHK

TOKYO Sat Feb 16, 2008 6:50am EST

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Toshiba Corp is planning to stop production of equipment compatible with the HD DVD format for high-definition video, allowing the competing Blu-Ray camp a free run, public broadcaster NHK reported on Saturday.

Toshiba is expected to suffer losses amounting to tens of billions of yen (hundreds of millions of dollars) to scrap production of HD DVD players and recorders and other steps to exit the business, Japan's NHK said on its website.

No one at Toshiba could be reached for comment.

The format war between the Toshiba-backed HD DVD and Sony Corp's Blu-Ray, often compared to the Betamax-VHS battle in the 1980s, has slowed the development of what is expected to be a multibillion dollar high-definition DVD industry.

Toshiba was dealt a blow on Friday when Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it would abandon the HD DVD format, becoming the latest in a series of top retailers and movie studios to rally behind Blu-ray technology for high definition DVDs.

Toshiba plans to continue selling HD DVD equipment at stores for the time being but will not put resources into developing new devices, NHK said.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne, editing by Mike Peacock)

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