Japan Earthquake Creates Videotape Shortage; Affects U.S. TV Industry
The earthquake in Japan is having far-reaching global effects - in some surprising places.
It seems the Sony plant in Sendai, Japan had the monopoly on video tape in the world. Pre-earthquake, a two-hour tape ran $250. Now that the plant has been damaged and supplies are running out, 90-minute tapes are selling just under $1000.
"Unfortunately, Sony had a monopoly on the product and they made it in one place," Miller said. "So, a confluence of factors together make it a large emergency because a lot of people in broadcast have come to rely on this format — they have the cameras, they have the decks. ... It's how this content is being produced and distributed across the country and across the world now to a larger extent."
To make matters worse, Sony has no timeline for the future.
"Sony has shipped nothing, and is not being very informative when they're going to get production on their key lines again," Miller said. "And the other major manufacturers, they can't double production in a week or frankly in a month."
Smart broadcasters and production houses are using this as a means to switch to non-tape editing methods.
The Scripps Network, which includes the Food Network, the Travel Channel and HGTV, among others, said it was also looking at whether it could accept alternate mastering formats—it now masters on HDCAM—and was allowing producers to recycle media cards.
"So far, the shortage has not had a significant impact, but if it should continue, we may have to get even more creative in how we handle the situation," said Cindy McConkey, a Scripps spokesperson.