Grass Valley Expands Shop Through Technology Alliance

Grass Valley has praised its certification program for expanding the range and appeal of its TV platforms and workflow systems at a time of disruption both in its own ownership and the wider broadcasting industry.

Called the Grass Valley Technology Alliance (GVTA), this program has just admitted 11 new members to bring the total to 21, boosting its credentials as a one stop shop capable of competing with larger players in the field. This has significantly expanded the range of products and technologies that are interoperable with Grass Valley systems, according to its CEO and president Tim Shoulders. This is vital for a mid-size player in global terms with revenues running around $450 million a year.

"The Grass Valley Technology Alliance has grown exponentially since its inception 18 months ago,” said Shoulders. “It now includes 21 diverse companies that brings together a range of expertise, passion and experience to help our customers as they strive to meet consumer demand for captivating content on any screen.”

Among the new GVTA recruits is Bridge Technologies, which will reinforce test, measurement and monitoring capabilities around Grass Valley’s platform across all the main TV distribution domains, that is satellite, cable, digital terrestrial and IPTV, with a particular focus on the hospitality sector. Grass Valley’s Orbit monitoring system is being integrated with Bridge Technologies' VB440 IP probe for analysis of high bitrate broadcast media traffic as defined in the SMPTE ST2110 and ST2022-6 standards for core broadcasting networks, production studios, master control centers and outside broadcast vehicles.

Another new Grass Valley partner is Calrec, a vendor of audio broadcast mixing equipment, which follows the AIMS (Alliance for IP Media Solutions) and JT-NM (Joint Task Force on Networked Media) roadmaps for interoperability with other broadcast systems. These two bodies are both charged with fostering development and adoption of open standards and protocols for media interoperability.

Leader Electronics is also a new partner and again in the test and measurement field, highlighting the importance of that for platforms and infrastructures assembled or “cherry picked” from multivendor components. Its role though is slightly different, drilling down into timing aspects and also perceptual video quality. It has made HDR (High Dynamic Range) monitoring one of its specialties, focusing on the two critical components there of the camera and the display. The camera has to capture all components of the picture across the full dynamic range and feed them to the monitor, which must in turn display them faithfully. The key is to render all elements of the picture at the correct illumination, rather than leaving some over exposed while others are barely visible. As Leader puts it, it is not about brighter pictures but whole pictures.

Grass Valley itself has been through the mill over the last decade or more, seemingly tossed around among various owners like a hot potato. Formerly known as Thomson Grass Valley and Grass Valley Group, it is one of the longest standing broadcast technology vendors dating back 60 years. Thomson in 2010 sold the Grass Valley business unit, not including the head-end and transmission businesses, to private equity firm Francisco Partners, while itself rebranding as Technicolor. Then in March 2014, the company was acquired by Belden from Francisco Partners and merged with Miranda Technologies already owned by the former. Then in October 2019, Belden put Grass Valley up for sale, leading to acquisition by its current owners Black Dragon Capital in February 2020.

Against this backdrop, the GVTA certification program was launched partly to reassure existing customers that the company was stable and has a convincing strategy for advancing into the IP media age with a comprehensive range of options.

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