JVC has joined the Blu-ray Disc Association, the group responsible for promoting the Blu-ray Disc optical disc format.

This format aims to become the successor to current DVD discs for high-definition video content. Succession plans remain unclear, as the format competes with a rival format called HD-DVD (High Definition/High Density-DVD).

While its Association membership is new, JVC's support for Blu-ray Disc has been known for a long time. It was among the first Japanese companies to show a prototype Blu-ray Disc player in 2002 and has continued to show prototypes based on the system at Japanese trade shows since then.

"We're really excited to have them join, they are clearly a major brand and one of the last major ones that have not committed," said Andy Parsons, senior vice president of advanced product development at Pioneer and a representative of the Blu-ray Disc Association.

Its membership comes a week after Twentieth Century Fox also joined the Association.

The support of content providers, like Fox, is seen as vital to the success of both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD because, without commercial content, the formats are unlikely to appeal to a wide customer base.

"I think the content providers (like Fox) are an essential part of the overall equation," said Parsons. "It's also very important to have a number of companies to release products to play back that content."

To this end, the Blu-ray Disc Association is talking "on an almost daily basis" to content providers, said Parsons. The recent inclusion of the MPEG-4 and VC-1 video codecs to the read-only BD-ROM specification was as a direct result of these conversations and the requests of content providers, he said.

Standardization work on the BD-ROM format is currently underway. Version 1.0 of the physical format has been set and the Blu-ray Disc Association is aiming to complete the first version of the application format and navigation format by the end of 2004, said Parsons.