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Harris Broadcast Transforms into Imagine Communications and GatesAir

By Caleb Henry | March 18, 2014
      Imagine Communications and GatesAir

      Harris Broadcast announced the decision to become two companies at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
      Photo: Via Satellite

      [Via Satellite 03-18-2014] Under the leadership of CEO Charlie Vogt, Harris Broadcast has split into two separate companies: Imagine Communications and Gates Air. Vogt will remain the CEO of both companies as they address different ends of the technology spectrum. Imagine Communications will be headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and GatesAir will be headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio with its manufacturing, supply chain and fulfillment center located in Quincy, Ill.

      “Imagine Communications will lead the media and entertainment markets to a future defined by IP, software, the cloud, and TV Everywhere, with an architecture vision for delivering and monetizing multiscreen content,” said Vogt. “Likewise, GatesAir will continue to lead the next-generation TV and radio over-the-air market, with a focus on providing wireless innovations that reduce power consumption and carbon footprint, while leveraging the growth in digital radio and TV transmission across the globe.”

      Gores Group acquired Harris Broadcast in February 2013 for $225 million. The two new companies are hoping to use their existing strength to pull ahead of St. Louis-based rival Belden, which purchased Miranda Technologies and Grass Valley for $332 and $220 million respectively. The two companies are being consolidated under the Grass Valley name. Vogt said Imagine Communications and GatesAir are pushing to get ahead of Grass Valley by 18 months to two years.

      The decision to use the name GatesAir pays homage to the late Parker Gates, founder of Gates Radio Co. in 1922. Parker Gates founded the company at the age of 14. The company was purchased in 1957 by Harris Intertype. According to Vogt, both Imagine Communications and GatesAir will have a partnership to meet the needs of new and existing companies, and that he is cognizant of the current overlap between them.

      “What we want to do over time is truly separate these two companies so they can truly be independent stand alone companies that can take on their own path, whatever that ends up being,” said Vogt. “So you will see us enter into some sort of partnership agreement between the two companies where if we have [customers] that give us one order, and we fulfill it across our entire product portfolio, that’s something that we will still be able to do.”

      Vogt also announced new products at the MediaDay event. The first was a next-generation platform called MediaCentral, described as an end–to-end traffic sales automation and playout platform that will be open, modular and portable. MediaCentral leverages off-the-shelf computing, and can be accessed via the cloud. The platform’s modular design allows customers to migrate one application at a time, or a complete turnkey. Another product was the new MultiService SDN architecture, which introduces Software Defined Workflows (SDW), enabling video and broadcast workflows to be software defined, bringing all media into the IP layer and separating the media content components from control.

      “Our vision is to enable instant access to moments that matter, and we’ll do so by innovating in the areas of IP, SDN, and the cloud. Supporting multi-service workflows, advanced advertising models, and TV Everywhere,” said Vogt.

      Vogt added that the new companies are looking at new acquisition opportunities and said to be prepared to see purchases in the near future.

      “You are going to see us being very opportunistic,” he said. “I think there are some really great innovative companies that align with our strategy and, if we can get there faster with them, I think you are going to see us being pretty bold and aggressive on the M&A front, especially over the next year.”