Harris Announcement Sends Ripples Through Industry

Manufacturer meanwhile says it’s ‘business as usual’ for customers and employees
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Reactions are trickling in after Harris Corp.’s announcement that it plans to sell off its broadcast communications business.

Nautel President Peter Conlon told Radio World that the decision “starkly illustrates how challenging the transmitter business has become.”

“I have always had great admiration for Harris Broadcast as a formidable, quality competitor,” Conlon wrote in an email. “Many of us at Nautel have good friends at Harris and we all hope the best for the entire team there.”

Harris Marketing Director Terri Black told Radio World that the change had been “brewing for awhile.” Several months ago, when Bill Brown came aboard as CEO and examined the company’s portfolio strategically, Black said, “it didn’t make sense to continue with broadcast as part of the corporation.”

“Broadcast communications has become less and less aligned with our core business,” she said. That core business consists mostly of “large government contracts … predictable revenue models.”

As for who might buy the broadcast piece of Harris, “We’re looking for someone who can partner with us and strategically align with broadcast and new media environments,” Black said. “Someone who can help us progress our strategic objective of transforming the industry.”

A team within the communications division team will be working with outside investment bankers in the divestment process, according to Black. “We don’t have any idea nor could we disclose from a competitive standpoint who we’re looking to invest in us,” she said.

Black acknowledged that the decision had been difficult, due to Harris’ longstanding involvement in broadcast and the fact that many employees and board members have been with the company for 20 or more years.

Brian Galante, Dimension PR, handles media relations for Harris in North America, Central America and Latin America. He told Radio World that the impact on Harris clients and employees in broadcast communications will be “absolutely none. It will be business as usual.”

“There will be no changes in operations, employee status, executive and management levels,” he said, adding that the broadcast segment remains a part of Harris Corp. until the assets are sold.

Approximately 300 people are currently employed at Harris’s Quincy Broadcast Communications facility in Quincy, Ill., according to the Quincy Journal. The newspaper quoted Quincy Mayor John Spring as saying he had been in contact with Harris officials and that “I'm saddened to hear the news … It is my hope they can sell that business and someone will come in to see that the Quincy facility provides a high quality of work.”

As of today, the broadcast division is going up for sale. Black said that they hope to find a buyer by the company’s fiscal 2013, which begins in June.

When asked whether Nautel would consider buying all or part of Harris Communications, Peter Conlon answered vaguely: “It is difficult to predict what this will mean for the industry, but our intention will be to continue to innovate and to provide our customers with the finest service possible.”

Radio World will continue to provide updated reactions and feedback as the Harris changes take effect.

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