NAB 2008: Harris Continues To Push Solution Sales

Harris previews NAB offerings

At the NAB show in Las Vegas this April, Harris Broadcast will display the recent progress of its “One” initiative to both unite the disparate businesses it has assembled through years of acquisition and integrate its myriad products to work as complete systems. The Cincinnati, Oh.-based company will demonstrate end-to-end workflows for production, master control operations and multi-platform delivery that link its hardware and software.

Harris has spent $2.5 million to create an interoperability lab in Toronto, Can., where its Leitch business is based, that houses 43 racks of equipment encompassing ever major product line within the Harris umbrella, including servers, automation, master control and transmission equipment. The interoperability lab, which will be run by former Corus Entertainment executive Reagen Mitchell, reflects the growing amount of Harris’ R&D spending that goes to solving integration issues between products, says Harris vice president of marketing Brian Cabeceiras.

New products from Harris for this year’s NAB include the Inscriber G7, a new 3D graphics creation and HD/SD playout system; from the transmitter segment, a new digital exciter that uses the Mobile Pedestrian Handheld (MPH) mobile DTV system developed by Harris and LG Electronics; a broad range of 3-gigabit-per-second-cable routers; and the addition of statistical multiplexing capability to the NetVX line of MPEG-4/H.264 encoders. Harris will also be demonstrating its NewsForce server-based newsroom system, and unveiling a number of digital signage products that could help broadcasters target the out-of-home viewing market.

So far the company, which has also unified its sales and support staffs so major customers can deal with a single salesperson and a single service contract, has found major success with its turnkey approach internationally with major sales in Brazil, the Middle East, China and India. Harris Broadcast president Tim Thorsteinson expects sales in the U.S., which have been flat for the past few months, to pick up as domestic customers warm to the turnkey approach.

“The value proposition to the customer is there needs to be a lower cost of ownership,” says Thorsteinson. “The long-term model of buying from 7 or 8 different vendors across a $2 million capital purchase won’t last.”

Stateside, Harris has snagged a large deal from systems integrator Snader and Associates to create a turnkey broadcast communications system for the American Forces Network, which delivers news, information and entertainment to almost one million troops worldwide outside of the United States. The new system, which will be installed at the Defense Media Center in Riverside, California, is expected to be completed this summer. Under the deal, Harris will provide broadcast routing, automation, video servers, core processing and asset management products, including its new NEXIO AMP server and storage systems.

Harris’ IPTV headend gear has also been selected by IRIS Networks of Nashville, Tenn., a member-owned organization comprising 11 independent rural telephone companies in Tennessee, southern Kentucky and Virginia, to receive and encode local broadcast signals from Nashville and Knoxville for IPTV distribution. At its Nashville technical center, IRIS has installed a Harris IPTV headend that includes Harris Videotek DDM-800 ATSC demodulators and NetVX MPEG-2 decoders to receive and decode the TV signals (16 channels in total) from off-air antennas, and NetVX ENC-A21 MPEG-4/H.264 encoders to compress and transport the multiple standard and high-definition TV channels over a fiber-based IP backbone to the telcos.