Sony, NBC strike deal

Sony's NAB press conference began with some taped HDTV yucks from comedian Jay Leno, but the announcement of a deal with NBC could keep Sony laughing all the way to the bank.

The pact calls for Sony to be NBC's exclusive vendor for switchers, cameras, displays, data recorders and systems integration through 2009. The agreement includes NBC's 30 Rock facility, cable operations and O&Os.

"This agreement represents the fruition of a relationship that began in earnest during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and has grown steadily, and considerably, since then," said Edward Grebow, deputy president of Sony Electronics and president, Business Systems and Solutions.

The NBC deal was only one of a number of contracts the company has recently signed. The other high-profile deal was with CNN, calling for Sony to provide nine Sony HDC-950 HDTV studio cameras for CNN's new studio in New York City's Time Life building. Using a complement of Fujinon HDTV lenses, the cameras will be used to improve the standard-definition look of Paula Zahn's American Morning
program as well as NewsNight with Aaron Brown. The cameras don't mean HDTV is around the corner for CNN, but it definitely is somewhere down the road, with Gordon Castle, CNN Technology senior vice president, noting the cameras will assist the network's move down an HD migration path.

KCTS-TV Seattle purchased a new Sony HDC-950 camera system along with a Sony HDC-900. An HDCAM 24P package including the HDW-F900 camcorder was also part of the station's deal.

Other sales included 12 digital studio cameras to Home Shopping Network; a $5 million integration deal with Wisconsin Eye, a new 24-hour noncommercial channel devoted to the Wisconsin state government; and HD gear for a new NHK truck that Sony dubbed the "Ichiro Suzuki truck" because it helps send HD coverage of the Seattle Mariners' star back to his fans in Japan.

Steve Jacobs, Sony Electronics Broadcast and Professional Systems Division senior vice president, outlined the company's new products. One highlight was the eVTR plug-in card, which enables Sony MPEG and IMX VTRs to connect via Gigabit Ethernet.

"So, using an eVTR, a PC in New York can command a tape machine in Los Angeles to send material over an IP network to a server in Atlanta," he said.