Leitch Systems Engineering Group seeks industry partnerships

Leitch Technology Corporation is putting a considerable amount of manpower and resources behind its new Systems Engineering group, in an effort to help systems integrators and station customers better understand what the company offers and how it fits with their digital television transition plans.

The new group, made up of 20 engineers and product managers--located mainly at Leitch facilities in Toronto, Canada, Burbank, Calif. and Chesapeake, Va.--will also work to develop pre-configured DTV systems that stations could drop into their facility with relative ease. These systems would be based around Leitch products, but could also include other vendors’ technology as the client or application requires.

Brian Cabeceiras, a vice president who heads up the group, said that he plans to identify the top 10 systems integrators in the country and then forge technology partnerships with them.

Cabeceiras was quick to point out that the new Systems Engineering Group is not competing with system integrators, but rather would like to team up with them for the building of new digital broadcast and production facilities.

He said Leitch wants to leverage what the integrators do really well—space planning, engineering, HVAC, and managing all of the non-Leitch gear—and combine that with the company’s digital hardware systems and software expertise.

“If we are successful, it will a big market differentiator for customers when compared with other major vendors in this space,” Cabeceiras said. “It will be of value to broadcasters and those building new digital facilities because their transition will be that much smoother and problem free.”

There’s little doubt that the broadcast industry needs help in converting their facilities to digital operation. In the news production segment alone, Cabeceiras noted that there are approximately 800 call-letter stations in the U.S. producing local news programs. Of those, he said only about 15 percent have moved to a server-based, digital news production infrastructure.

“We recognize that the need is there for engineering services because the stations that have converted to digital news production are ‘first-adapter’ types who have the knowledge and considerable resources to make digital improvements quickly,” he said. “We’re targeting the rest of those stations that have not made the leap, mainly because they are not sure how to do it.”

Leitch offers its NewsNet digital news production solution and MediaFile still store product, but does not offer a newsroom computer system, like those from Avid Technology (iNEWS) and the Associated Press (ENPS). That’s where the partnerships come in. Cabeceiras said that with the help of third-party companies, Leitch will develop a series of pre-configured, pre-tested news production systems that it will offer as turnkey installations to broadcasters.

And he’s not just talking news. The goal is to support Leitch’s productivity message via a variety of systems that enable an Integrated Content Environment for applications in post production, newsrooms, master control and the processing, storage and management of content.

“The customer benefits from a [pre-configured] system like this,” Cabeceiras said, “because he does not have to pay for personalized engineering services when all he needs is a roadmap of how to achieve his station’s goals and the right equipment to do it.”

Cabeceiras said he’s already discussed his ideas with a number of system integrators and potential customers and they have all responded positively.

For more information visit www.leitch.com.

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