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Museum of Film & Television to Digitize Archive

The Museum of Film & Television (www.mtr.org) plans to digitize its library of 100,000 film and television programs for possible online distribution. The privately funded New York- and Los Angeles-based museum is negotiating with large technology companies to fund the multi-million dollar transfer of its huge analog tape catalog into digital format. The museum has commissioned television distributor Winstar to conduct a technical feasibility study for the digital transfer project.

"Our analog tapes are deteriorating," said Museum executive director Jeffrey Litvack. "We're launching an effort to preserve our collection in digital files and to make them available to the public," Litvack said.

Vintage television titles have a small but highly loyal user-base. "Some of our users are extremely committed," said Robert Moskovits, co-founder of classic TV and movie site Movieflix.com, which licenses its library from video distributors.

"We get members e-mailing us saying they've just got done watching "The Clutching Hand" episodes one through six, and asking when we're going to stream episodes seven through twelve," said Moskovits. Movieflix has 250,000 registered members and 1,000 new members per day. The company, which has a staff of four, plans to introduce a subscription model this summer. Other vintage sites include Liketelevision.com, Cinemanow.com and AENTV.com.

The online market for archived content, which includes films and classic TV shows as well as photos and books, will be worth over $2.2 billion this year, according to Jupiter Media Metrix. The market could triple in the next five years, Jupiter predicts.

Archived content may be offered as part of broadband video on demand services such as Sony Moviefly, scheduled for launch this spring, and services from Intertainer and Walt Disney Co.

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