Harris Receives Two Tech Emmy Awards

Harris Corp. received two awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) at the 60th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards ceremony that took place Jan. 7 at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. This marks the eighth Emmy that the company has received for introducing technology that enhances broadcasters’ capabilities and consumers’ viewing experience.

During the event, which was held on opening night of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Harris was presented with one Emmy for introducing a communications protocol to control video servers for broadcast television and a second for inventing a method to combine analog and DTV signals on adjacent frequencies within a single antenna.

The first award honors Harris for Video Disk Communications Protocol (VDCP), a proprietary, serial communications protocol based on the RS-422 standard. Originally developed by Louth Automation, which Harris acquired in 1999, VDCP was rapidly adopted by virtually all server and automation manufacturers due to its ability to provide a simple, proven, and reliable means of controlling video servers for broadcast television. Harris has maintained its commitment to open protocols with its leading role in later developments, including Programming Metadata Communication Protocol (PMCP) and Broadcast eXchange Format (BXF).

“Consolidation and centralized control of operations are key objectives for today’s broadcaster, which lends added significance to standards-based protocols,” says Tim Thorsteinson, president of Harris Broadcast Communications. “Even with the recent proliferation of proprietary, vendor-specific protocols, VDCP still stands as the de facto standard. Essentially, any broadcaster who has ever needed automation control of video file servers has at some time or other used VDCP.”

Harris was also recognized for its invention “Combining Adjacent TV Channels for Transmission by a Common Antenna,” which is a method of “space-combining” analog and DTV signals on adjacent frequencies within a single antenna. The ability to transmit multiple analog and DTV channels from a single antenna with nearly identical radiation patterns reduces costs for the broadcaster by eliminating the need for separate, expensive antennas for analog and DTV channels. The invention also simplifies engineering complexity by consuming less tower space and maintaining signal isolation between the analog and DTV transmitters. The technology was invented by late Emmy Award-winning inventor Robert J. Plonka of Harris Broadcast Communications.

“Many DTV broadcasters using this technology today would have otherwise been forced to replace their antennas and towers prior to supporting DTV services,” says Thorsteinson. “The ability to use a common antenna to simultaneously transmit analog and DTV signals has allowed many broadcasters to add adjacent DTV channels to existing transmission lines and antenna systems. This presents a far more cost- and time-efficient solution for local broadcasters while maintaining the integrity and quality of their broadcasts.”