While content will remain "king," the future for music and film companies increasingly lies in DRM (digital rights management), Howard Stringer, chairman/CEO of Sony Corp. of America and vice chairman

While content will remain "king," the future for music and film companies increasingly lies in DRM (digital rights management), Howard Stringer, chairman/CEO of Sony Corp. of America and vice chairman of Sony Corp, said today (March 3). Stringer was in London to deliver the keynote address on the second and final day of the FT New Media and Broadcasting conference.

"Let me tell you what Sony has at stake in the fight to secure intellectual property rights ... everything," Stringer told delegates. "If the rest of us are to crawl out of the analog swamp and walk upright into the digital age, we will have to have better protection of our content.

"Brands, those darlings of the management consulting class, can help you cling a bit longer to the gunwales. But they won't protect you if the ride gets bumpy for the long haul. They're just not as sticky as they used to be. They'll buy you a little time ... but he who hesitates is forgotten."

Stringer also suggested that in a world of broadband-engaged networks and devices, cable and satellite broadcasters could face government regulation.

"As distributors like Comcast get stronger and larger by the day, and cable bills seem more like car-lease payments, these companies begin to enjoy so much leverage that they start to look like utilities. And utilities risk getting regulated," he said.

Stringer also gave a snapshot of Sony's new products range, including the launch later this year of the 'Connect Online Music Store' in the United Kingdom and key markets across Europe. "The plan is for 'Connect' to enable music lovers to download hundreds of thousands of songs from major and independent labels," he said. "We want to make it easier to buy music than to steal it."

The site would be multi-lingual, with facilities to handle multiple currencies. "It will work with a wide range of Sony devices at various price points," he added.

Guest speakers at the conference included RIAA president/general counsel Cary Sherman and Roxio chairman/CEO Chris Gorog.