News-technology guru

Danilowicz converts stations to a new way of working
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Matt Danilowicz's 18 years of marketing broadcast equipment have brought him full circle: from a manufacturer of newsroom automation equipment to a company seeking to automate the control room. On the way, he has seen firsthand how the right technology can improve a station's bottom line and keep it on the air.

As a Dynatech NewStar sales executive in the mid '80s, Danilowicz says, it was hard persuading stations to produce their news content using a proprietary computer system to write and edit stories. "In a word, it was hell. I remember anchor people and producers telling me, 'You'll take away this typewriter over my dead body.'"

Always attracted to new technologies, Danilowicz moved on in 1991 to TV Answer, which was trying to implement interactive television via an over-the-air analog system. The company, he says, spent more than $500,000 and received FCC approval to build a network of towers to send data to consumers' TVs. He got ABC and several advertisers interested early on.

As with so many emerging technology initiatives, though, the company failed to attract consumer interest and ceased operation in 1995, three years after Danilowicz left.

He had gone to Digistore, a manufacturer of computer disk drives used by stations to broadcast commercials and display still JPEG images. This was before video servers. When Dynatech bought Digistore in 1992, Danilowicz found himself working for his old employer.

Dynatech, divesting its broadcast-equipment holdings, sold NewStar to Tektronix in 1994, and Avid Technology recruited Danilowicz to build up its broadcast business. He had quick success at such operations as CNN and NBC and saw Avid's revenue grow from $200 million to $400 million.

By this time, Avid owned the Basys Inc. newsroom technology. Danilowicz brokered a deal for the sale of rival NewStar assets to Avid in 1997 and oversaw the melding of the two.

Then, in 1998, with competition from the Associated Press (which developed the Electronic News Production System) and newsroom profits sagging, Danilowicz oversaw creation of joint venture Avstar, which merged the broadcast-news resources of Avid and Tektronix, which then owned Grass Valley Group (GVG).

He became its CEO and changed its name to iNews, to reflect the perceived convergence of TV and the Internet in news production.

The iNews venture combined the two companies' sale forces and complementary technologies to offer complete electronic newsroom systems. However, as Avid and Tektronix began to move in "different directions," Danilowicz explains, the alliance began to fray. "It was difficult bringing together two very different corporate cultures that had been competing for many years."

In 1997, Avid changed its management team once again, and Tektronix sold its broadcast business to GVG executives and investor Terence Gooding.

When GVG bought nonlinear editing company Vibrint in 1998 and Avid acquired video server company Pluto Technologies in 1999, the two were seen as direct competitors, and a cloud was cast over the iNews venture.

After Avid bought out Tektronix's stake in iNews early this year, "the culture was different," says Danilowicz. "I had a great time at Avid, but it was time to do something different."

In August, he became vice president of business development and strategic relationships at Parkervision. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company makes a system that enables an entire live newscast to be programmed, switched and operated by one or two people.

Once again, he points out, he's involved in converting station management to a new way of working.

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