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New Year, New Deals

The New Year is kicking of with an unusual number of mergers and acquisitions. Several major transactions in the past month indicate that savvy industry leaders are getting a jump on the competition before the annual NAB merger-spree.

PESA has been acquired by the private equity group QuStream Corporation, which plans to support the growth of PESA through investments in product development and further acquisitions. "QuStream has been seeking the right organization with the right product line to serve as the cornerstone of a larger industry group that will address the needs of today's broadcasters and video professionals," said Fred Godard, president and CEO of QuStream.

Meanwhile, Leitch completed its agreement to acquire Inscriber Technology Corporation. Inscriber's SD and HD television graphics and digital signage software technologies will complement the existing Leitch line of professional video systems and will allow Leitch to broaden it's reach in the broadcast and media marketplace. The purchase carried a price of $18 million cash, including the assumption of $1.5 million in debt. Leitch funded the acquisition out of the company's cash balances and will account for this transaction as a purchase during the third quarter ended January 31, 2005.

TANDBERG announced plans to purchase N2 Broadband. The merger of TANDBERG's video compression and TV delivery systems with N2 Broadband's open-platform solutions for delivering on-demand services creates a huge opportunity for the global expansion of both companies' technologies. "This is a highly synergistic move that brings together complementary core technologies and market positions for the on-demand world. The combination of N2's VOD systems with TANDBERG Television's video compression solutions is a natural progression for both companies and will address the needs of the global digital entertainment market for open, scalable solutions," said Reggie Bradford, President and CEO of N2 Broadband.

Global satellite communications company Intelsat received FCC approval to be purchased by Bermuda-based Zeus Holding Ltd. The acquisition will provide Intelsat with the financial and strategic backing to sustain continued growth and leadership in the market.

The big news in the mobile market is that NEP Broadcasting and National Mobile Television have announced that NEP will acquire assets and contracts from NMT, including an exclusive agreement with ABC Sports and three HD mobile units. NMT plans to use the proceeds from this agreement to extend its reach in the regional sports network market and plans to construct five new HD mobile units this year.

NMT CEO Mark Howorth explained, "In these days of rapid technology growth and demanding production budgets, companies must take every opportunity to position themselves for growth and flexibility." This early surge of activity in 2005 indicates that many companies share his opinion. With these transactions setting the stage, we can look forward to a very interesting NAB season of mergers and acquisitions.

Quantegy Closes Doors

Recording tape manufacturer Quantegy has closed its Opelika plant and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early January to allow the company to restructure.

In November 1995, Ampex sold its media division to Quantegy, which was the last American company to manufacture audiotape and videotape. When the plant closed, 250 workers were laid off pending further notice. At one time, Quantegy employed 1,800 people.

The move did not surprise many as recording has moved from tape stock to computer-based media.
In the mid-90s, 3M discontinued manufacturing tape and BASF was rumored to have sold off its tape division as scrap.

Lifetime Television to Move Operations Center to Manhattan

Lifetime Television Network will move its technical operations center to 111 Eighth Avenue in Manhattan's Chelsea/Meatpacking district in late 2005. The 50,000-square-foot offices on the building's second floor provide the security, power, connectivity, and emergency generator capabilities required to house Lifetime's facilities.

The new center, which will include Lifetime's broadcast operations, post-production, and corporate data center, will feature a state-of-the-art technical facility fully enabled by digital asset management technology. With this move, Lifetime will be one of the first creative drama-driven networks to operate entirely on a digital platform.

Comcast Creates New Operations Management Center

The Comcast Media Center is in the process of consolidating several of its support and operations facilities to create a new Operations Management Center (OMC). The OMC will monitor all of the linear channels, live event television, VOD, and rich media content that is transmitted from the facility.

The OMC is part of an effort to improve content management capabilities on the national level and to deliver content efficiently across multiple platforms including home, office, and mobile devices. The center is being designed to allow for continued growth in the monitoring and support capabilities for the CMC's newer initiatives, such as VOD.

Follow The Television Trail

So you got that new HD flat screen TV for Christmas? But what to do about that old one... Public radio's Marketplace and Alisa Roth follow the garbage trail of the American TV set.