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ParkerVision sells video division to Thomson

In what many see as a good fit and an even better price, Thomson has reached an agreement to purchase the video division of ParkerVision, makers of automated live news production systems, for $14 million in cash. Thomson said it would integrate Parkervision’s technology into its existing digital production product lines, such as its Kalypso video switcher, “to provide the industry's first tight linkage between news production systems and news control rooms.”

Although their products will now be integrated, ParkerVision and Thomson Grass Valley will still have separate booths at NAB2004.

Jeff Parker, chairman and CEO of Parkervision, called the sales price fair. “If you look at the multiples that this industry represents, Thomson was right where they needed to be [in terms of price].”

He said the money will help capitalize its Wireless Division--which makes wireless routers, PCMCIA LAN cards and USB adapters for consumers and business. This will now become the company's sole focus.

As the sale is not expected to close until the May or June, the companies will exhibit in separate booths at the NAB2004 convention in April, as they had planned before the acquisition was announced.

ParkerVision’s video division, located in Jacksonville, Fla., manufactures and markets the PVTV NEWS live news production and Cameraman robotic camera lines. PVTV NEWS has helped media companies operate under new production models that often include fewer on-air mistakes and less staff.

Thomson executives said the acquisition reflects the company’s strategy to expand its broadcast business to small market stations, as well as corporations and schools. All newly developed integrated systems going forward will be branded as Grass Valley products.

Marc Valentin, president, Thomson Broadcast & Media Solutions, said that in addition to broadening Thomson’s capabilities in the digital news production space, the Parkervision technology will also extend the company's leadership in live production and drive organic growth for our business.

ParkerVision products such as its CameraMan line will now be fully-integrated with Thomson Grass Valley products.

“By integrating Parkervision automated playout and camera control technologies with our live production equipment and expertise,” Valentin added, “Thomson will continue to develop this platform to provide smaller stations with the same robust and reliable systems on which major broadcast operations rely.”

Thomson is hoping to capitalize on the fact that over the past two years, only 15 percent of the world's newsrooms have yet to make the shift from analog, tape-based equipment to digital systems. With a digital news production category that’s estimated at $400 million, this transition is expected to continue as more stations in the U.S. adopt centralized, highly automated technologies.

The PVTV technology links traditional news-production functions that require multiple operators (e.g., switching, CG, camera operators) into a single automated command module built around a Windows NT PC. Stations implementing the patented Production Automation technology have been able to reduce production crew members during live TV shows, and redirected savings to talent costs and other functions.

The CameraMan line includes a range of digital and analog robotic cameras for numerous applications, including broadcast television, distance education, image magnification, and any application in which a remote control, top-quality, compact robotic camera is required.

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