Worries about hackers and cybersecurity haven’t just become a prominent story on TV newscasts. They’ve also made technologists like Paul Capizzi of Fox Television Stations increasingly important to the overall TV industry’s future. Much of this concern over network security reflects the growth in hacking attacks. But it is also directly tied to major changes in the types of technology TV companies now use to produce and distribute their content to both TV and digital outlets.
“In the past, they had closed systems that didn’t access other networks and the internet,” Capizzi said. Today, though, newer technologies have made broadcasters heavily reliant on the internet, networking and other digital technologies for many part of their business, a trend that is only increasing as station groups move to IP- and cloud-based technologies.
“Having the flexibility to stream video back to the station or to consumers has been beneficial to the business,” Capizzi continued. “But along with those improvements, you have to make sure you have the connectivity you need and that those connects are secure.”
Capizzi’s career path to IT and security issues began during the dotcom boom, when he was in his early 20s and began working as a systems engineer. In 2002, he joined SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance and quickly found himself running tech teams that helped the company expand nationally with new data centers, infrastructures and security systems.
“The insurance and financial industries were the first front-runners to apply and spend a lot of money on cybersecurity, so I was able to do some really interesting things,” he said.
In 2012, he took that expertise to the Fox Television Stations, heading up information IT, cybersecurity and network infrastructure for all 28 owned-and-operated stations, which were increasingly focused on security. “It has been exciting to apply the skills I’ve learned over the years to Fox,” he said.
In addition to building up the security teams and systems, one notable example of those efforts has been a recent effort to upgrade the core switching infrastructure and network for all of Fox’s stations. “It will allow us to have the bandwidth we require [in the future] as we find great new broadcast technology for our stations,” he said.
Capizzi stressed, though, that he’s most proud of the partnership between more traditional broadcast engineers and his IT and security teams. “Working together has been the key to being able to bring in new technologies to the stations and to make them secure,” he said.
Capizzi’s boss, Guy Wheaton, senior VP and chief information officer at Fox Television Stations (and a 2017 Technology Leadership Award winner), agreed.
“Today’s technology is truly amazing, but it has no capability to deliver value without talented people to ‘activate the magic,’ ” Wheaton said. “[Paul’s] contributions are visible across every project he is involved with. Working alongside him is sincerely a privilege.”