Harris to Sell Broadcast Communications Business Unit

What Next for the Harris Broadcast Biz?

In the company's quarterly announcement, Harris confirmed its decision to divest the Broadcast Communications business. “We are announcing plans to divest Broadcast Communications,” Harris President/CEO William M. Brown  stated. “The decision to divest Broadcast Communications resulted from a thorough review of our business portfolio, which determined that the business is no longer aligned with the company’s long-term strategy. The plan to sell these assets supports our disciplined approach to capital allocation, and we intend to use the proceeds to return cash to shareholders and invest in growing our core businesses.”

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Until a deal to sell the division is finalized, “Broadcast Communications will continue to be a part of Harris Corp. and operate business as usual,” according to a statement released by Broadcast Communications Division President Harris Morris and he continued “I fully support this decision and believe that the timing is right for both Harris and Broadcast Communications. Harris has supported us by investing in our business, allowing us to develop some of the market’s most innovative, solution-based technologies. However, over time Broadcast Communications has become less aligned with the Harris core businesses and long-term strategy."

"The decision to divest in no way reflects the quality of the work Broadcast Communications performed in support of our customers and our company.  Harris simply determined that Broadcast Communications could provide higher value and operate more effectively under a different ownership model."

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In connection with evaluating strategic alternatives for Broadcast Communications, the company recorded in the third quarter a non-cash after-tax charge of $407 million, or $3.62 per diluted share, to write down a significant portion of the goodwill and other long-lived assets in Broadcast Communications, resulting in the GAAP loss from continuing operations. Following the close of the quarter, the company approved a plan to divest Broadcast Communications. As a result, current- and prior-period financial results for Broadcast Communications will be reported as discontinued operations beginning with the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012.

“Operating independently or as part of a broadcast or media-focused enterprise will provide us with strategic investment, increased competitive flexibility, and customer focus to lead the continuing transformation in this competitive marketplace,” Morris said.

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Harris’ history touches on some of the most familiar names in early broadcast hardware manufacturers. Its involvement in broadcast dates to the purchase of Gates Radio by Harris Intertype Corp. Gates had been founded in 1922 in the earliest days of commercial radio; it was the first electronics firm acquired by what would become Harris Corp. According to the company’s website Harris is in broadcasting more than 100 years and with nearly 100 technological firsts, Harris has driven innovations like digital television and radio and the rapid growth of high definition.

Harris entered the TV transmitter market in 1969. It would later acquire Allied Broadcast Equipment Corp., Intraplex and Pacific Research & Engineering (PR&E), an iconic name in consoles. Later acquisitions included TVT, part of Midwest Communications Corp., ITIS, Louth Automation, Hirschmann Multimedia Communications Network, Question d'Image, Encoda Systems, Leitch Technology Corp., Aastra Digital Video, Optimal Solutions Inc. and Zandar Technologies.

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Harris by Number

• Every day, Harris customers beam content to billions of people in 100 countries on six continents.
• Harris equipment is used in all of the top 90 broadcast TV and Radio stations in North America.
• More than 1,720 employees work for Harris Broadcast in locations around the world.
• As of June 2011, Harris held 108 active U.S. patents and 102 active non-U.S. patents.
• Harris has earned more than 50 awards for technical innovation, including eight Emmy® Awards.

Hard to say if there will be some takers for the division. Many equipment manufacturers are on hard times as well. It may end up that pieces of Harris Broadcast being sold off and what’s left goes by the wayside.

In their search for a buyer Live Production wish Harris and its employees well. We hope that the company finds a buyer that is not only strong and savvy but committed to the historically rich, ever-evolving broadcast technology marketplace.

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