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SIS LIVE to pull out of outside broadcast

Kevin Hilton 30 October 2013

UK broadcast facilities and uplink supplier Satellite Information Service (SIS) is to move out of the outside broadcast market by March 2014. No definite decision has been made on what will happen to SIS LIVE’s fleet of HD/5.1 OB trucks or the Mastersound mobile recording studio. SIS’s decision to withdraw from OB work was taken after a strategic review, prompted by the BBC not renewing its sports contracts with SIS LIVE. In September the broadcaster announced that after a tender process it had selected CTV, NEP Visions, Presteigne Charter and Telegenic to variously provide OB facilities for major events including Wimbledon, the London Marathon and the Boat Race, as well as rugby, football and athletics. This took the broadcast market by surprise because SIS LIVE was created partly from BBC Outside Broadcasts, which SIS bought in 2008. Explaining SIS’s decision to quit the OB sector, chief executive Gary Smith (pictured), said, "It has become apparent that the OB market has become a commodity marketplace, where price is the dominant factor. Our difficulty in reaching terms with BBC Sport over the renewal of their sports contracts offered a vivid reflection of the problem. SIS has maintained a large fleet of state-of-the-art trucks and equipment and employs more than 200 highly talented staff [but] in view of the pricing pressure for long term contacts for customers such as the BBC we have come to the conclusion that the OB market, as it is today, no longer offers an arena in which it makes sense for us to continue to operate." Smith said SIS LIVE’s OBs would cease trading at the end of March next year when the BBC contract expires. SIS LIVE is currently split between its links business, including satellite news gathering vans, and OBs. The OB fleet comprises 11 HD trucks of varying sizes, which house a variety of Calrec Audio consoles, including Alphas, Omegas and Sigmas, with Bluefin processing and Hydra networking. Mastersound is a dedicated audio recording facility featuring a 128 channel Stagetec Cantus digital console. Responding to email questions, SIS LIVE said it "was not commenting on the future of our stock, or on our efforts to find a buyer for the business" as it is "an internal business matter still under commercial consideration". The company did say that its permanent staff would be facing redundancy in March 2014: "Our business model has been to employ a large, permanent, talented staff. Unfortunately the market can’t accommodate this model any longer. SIS anticipates that, whether as employees or freelancers, they will find their skills in demand elsewhere in the market." The SIS LIVE name will be retained for SIS’s uplink business and still be used in reference to its work in racing. "These parts of the business are not affected by the recent news, and we expect to see them continue to grow over the coming years." www.sislive.tv

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