Broader Vision

Thomson's vision has improved—dramatically. One of the industry's largest broadcast-equipment manufacturers gobbled up the video division of ParkerVision for $14 million in cash, rounding out Thomson's product offerings, particularly for local broadcasters.

The two product lines included in the deal are the PVTV Windows NT-based master-control automation system and the CameraMan automated camera system. Forty customers across the U.S. are using the system to give master-control operators greater control over on-air operations, including graphics, playlists, and switching.

"This will surround the platform we developed with the rest of the puzzle pieces," says ParkerVision Chairman and CEO Jeff Parker. "And those broadcasters who have been willing to take a step with ParkerVision won't need to worry about a long-term commitment to their needs."

One natural fit is Thomson's lineup of production kits. The kits include cameras, storage devices, and production switchers. Adding a PVTV system expands the capabilities beyond production to on-air operations.

Marc Valentin, president of Thomson Broadcast & Media Solutions, says the company is now targeting growth areas like news and live production. (Digital news is a $400 million business and growing as small to midsize broadcasters adopt digital production technologies. Live production is currently a $1.5 billion business, expected to grow about 10% a year through 2008.) "We're reinforcing what is already an extremely strong position in production with innovative live production and automation systems."

Operationally, Valentine says, ParkerVision manufacturing will be integrated into Thomson's U.S.-based facilities, but there are no specific plans for the move. For now, the focus is on interoperability, which has already started with Thomson's Kalypso production switcher.

Jeff Rosica, VP of strategic marketing and technology for Thomson Broadcast & Media Solutions, says that manufacturing will likely be consolidated in Nevada City, Calif. R&D, product management, and key elements of the required support staff will reside in Jacksonville, Fla., where ParkerVision is headquartered.

The deal won't close for another couple of months.