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Harris Broadcast Does the Splits

Alan Breznick

Seeking to make a new name or two for itself, Harris Broadcast has split into two parts and shed its old corporate moniker. In a splashy media day presentation at New York's Madison Square Garden Monday afternoon, Harris Broadcast announced that it is dividing into two separate, privately owned companies -- Imagine Communications and GatesAir. While Harris Broadcast CEO Charlie Vogt will continue to run both companies, each entity will address different segments of the broadcast, cable, telco, and wireless video technology markets that the old unified company had been trying to tackle. (See Genband CEO Quits, Joins Harris Broadcast.)

Most notably, the new Imagine Communications will pick up where the old Imagine Communications, scooped up by Harris late last year, left off. Similar to its predecessor, the new Imagine will focus on multiscreen video, IP-based products, cloud-based services, and video processing and compression software for cable operators, telcos, broadcasters, content suppliers, and others. It will be based in Dallas, with facilities in Denver, Toronto, Los Angeles, Beijing, and Tel Aviv. (See Harris Broadcast Completes Imagine Communications Deal.)

Steve Reynolds, the former senior Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) video executive who joined Harris Broadcast three months ago, will be the CTO of the new Imagine. Speaking on the floor of the Garden's basketball court to the press, industry analysts, and customers, Reynolds said the company will help customers make the technological shift to IP-based and software-defined networks. "The world is rapidly changing," he said. "We'll start building toward deploying in the cloud and standards-based hardware and build new products and architectures that let us deliver new services faster than ever."

Along those lines, Vogt and Reynolds used the press conference to introduce Media Central, a cloud-based media platform designed to integrate ad sales, traffic, scheduling, automation, and playout. Previously, Reynolds said, these capabilities could only be provided in "distinct, separate, and often premises-based platforms."

The two executives said Imagine is also launching Software Defined Workflows (SDW), a video management system enabled by the company's new MultiService SDN architecture. They said SDW will enhance the management of broadcast video by allowing the entire workflow to be software defined, bringing all media into the IP layer, and separating the media content components from the control functions.

Imagine said it also plans to make "significant" investments in TV Everywhere initiatives that will "leverage" both the MediaCentral and MultiService SDN frameworks. The company said this approach will further reduce "the infrastructure required to allow for the multiple formats of the evolving multiscreen world, from the largest Ultra High Definition screens down to the smallest screens of smartphones and wearable devices."

The other new Harris Broadcast spinoff, or split-off, GatesAir, will concentrate on the traditional radio and TV broadcast industries that had been Harris' bread-and-butter business. Company officials said this entity will help over-the-air broadcasters "effectively navigate major technology evolutions," including digital conversions, new uses of spectra and licenses in many parts of the world, and spectrum auctions and TV band repacking. Based in Cincinnati, GatesAir also plans to tackle Ultra HD and LTE broadcast technologies.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
3/19/2014 | 10:12:39 PM
Re: Continuity
OK. I stand corrected on GatesAir because i wasn't familiar with the old company. But I still think Haris is taking a big risk by throwing away its own name this way. Companies sghould not change their names lightly. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/19/2014 | 1:54:05 PM
Re: Continuity
The Gates portion of the mix seems though a bit nebulous at least in this latest news. Harris rightly needs to get into the new technology businesses coming quickly to supplement it's broadcast services that may be dwindliung as over the air broadcasts loose their luster. Whether the new companies can bring enough profit it will be the question.
User Rank: Lightning
3/19/2014 | 10:56:31 AM
Re: Continuity
Harris is actually gaining brand equity in the broadcast space.  Gates was a big name, very well respected, before Harris bought it.  Anybody who worked in broadcasting in the 1960s-1970s remembers products like the Gates Yard radio mixing console, which practically everyone used.  Gates-branded transmitters are probably still all over the place.  It's good to see it back.
User Rank: Blogger
3/18/2014 | 8:58:11 PM
Re: Continuity
Yep, I think so. especially the GatesAir spinoff, which has an entirely new name. At least the other spinoff, Imagine Communications, was around and established before. But Harris Broadcast was a pretty well-established name, or so I thought. Will be interesting to see, eh?
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/18/2014 | 5:57:51 PM
Do the companies lose out on goodwill by ditching the Harris brand entirely?
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