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NAB 2008: B&C Hands Out Technology Leadership Awards

Winners Are Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Mark Aitken, ION Media Networks’ Brandon Burgess, CNN’s Bob Hesskamp, Sony’s Hugo Gaggioni, Sling Media’s Blake Krikorian, Panasonic’s Late Phil Livingston 4/15/2008 03:06:00 AM Eastern

Las Vegas -- At a packed cocktail party here Monday, publisher Larry Dunn gave recipients of the 11th Annual B&C Technology Leadership Awards plaudits for their crucial leadership in the business and, judging by the crowd, there were hundreds who agreed with his assessment.

Mark Aitken, director of advanced technology at Sinclair Broadcast Group, brushed back a tear or two when he received his award. He didn’t know it until right before the ceremony, but his two adult sons and a daughter-in-law flew here to see their father honored.

Brandon Burgess, chairman and CEO of ION Media Networks and one of the founders of the Open Mobile Video Coalition, thanked B&C for the award, noting that he was the only non-technologist honored and reiterating that nothing much happens on the content side without adept technology. Earlier in the day, he presided over a mobile-video panel in which it was predicted that mobile broadcast video could become a $2 billion business by 2012. (To watch a video Q&A with Burgess from the NAB Show, click here.)

CNN senior vice president of broadcast engineering and systems technology Bob Hesskamp had the largest cheering section and thanked CNN for having the passion to make technological leaps, like introducing CNN HD.

Hugo Gaggioni, chief technology officer for the broadcast and production-systems division at Sony, thanked his early mentors and the roll-of-the-dice of fate that took his career into the digital world when it was brand new.

Blake Krikorian, cofounder of Sling Media and its revolutionary Slingbox, which introduced the concept of “place-shifting,” joked as he received his award, “If anybody’s going to serve me a subpoena, here’s your chance” -- a reference to earlier times when some content providers thought his invention was robbing their product. Now he has a content deal with CBS, among others.

The most emotional part of the evening came early, when Jan Crittenden, the widow of Panasonic’s Phil Livingston, accepted the award for her husband, who died of bladder cancer in 2006. The 28-year veteran was active on many television-technology committees, and Crittenden said, “There truly isn’t anyone who knew him who didn’t love him.”

For complete coverage of the 2008 NAB Show, click here.

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