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NAB 2009: Harris Emphasizes Workflows Over Products

Harris Broadcast's NAB exhibition will focus more on demonstrating complete systems and workflows instead of highlighting new products, though the broadcast equipment giant is still likely to introduce over 30 new products in Las Vegas.

Harris will demonstrate "advanced media workflows" that illustrate how broadcasters can automate content ingest and repurpose their content across multiple platforms, said Vice President Brian Cabeceiras. The demonstrations will show new interoperability between Harris' wide range of master control, infrastructure and editing products and new applications for Harris' traffic and automation software.

"Some of the biggest product announcements aren't new products but in the spaces in between those product," said Cabeceiras, who added that Harris will also demonstrate mobile DTV applications, including using mobile DTV as a transmission system for digital signage.

Harris has already tweaked its NAB marketing and communications by conducting its pre-NAB press briefing last week through a conference call, with supporting Web-delivered slides, and announcing a "virtual NAB" initiative that will give visitors to the Harris Web site will have access to live video feeds from the show floor and online demonstrations.

The changes in its NAB exhibit booth are consistent with the company's "One" strategy of integrating the product lines it has gained through various acquisitions and also reflect the new way customers use the NAB show, said Cabeceiras.

"In the past, NAB has really been a technology coming-out party," he said. "We're still going to make product announcements at NAB, but the focus now is on overall strategy and positioning."

Harris Broadcast president Tim Thorsteinson said Harris is seeking new business overseas as the U.S. market is "off significantly," and has been placing sales and support personnel in growth markets like Germany. So far, international sales were up 24% in the first half of Harris' fiscal year, which runs from July through June. The company has also recorded 45 "One" system-based sales, which include most of the Harris product line, compared to 29 in the same period last year.

"The growth will be international in the next few years, so we're working hard to get people into areas where we can secure business," said Thorsteinson.

Thorsteinson said that Harris' transmission business has seen little impact from the original Feb. 17 deadline to turn off analog signals being pushed out to June 12, though it has had to juggle some service arrangements.

"It's been very minimal," said Thorsteinson. "It wasn't pushed out so far that people don't need to do it in the next 90 days."

Thorsteinson declined to comment on whether Harris would be interested in buying the Grass Valley broadcast equipment business, which French conglomerate Thomson recently said it wants to sell. While Thorsteinson has generally been a believer in industry consolidation, he said any broadcast vendor would have to assess the future potential of the market before aiming to get bigger, particularly in the U.S.

"You have to ask yourself, ‘Are any of the markets going to come back to where they were in '05 to ‘08,'" said Thorsteinson. "If your customers depend on automobile advertising for a large part of their revenue, when is the automotive industry going to come back to where it was? If not, they have to find revenue somewhere else. Right now, everyone is living from quarter to quarter, month to month."