Harris: Integration, Staff Cuts, MacDonell Leaving

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Several huge news items come out of Harris Broadcast today, starting with the news that the DOOH unit, which had been left as a stand alone unit under new owners, the Gores Group, is being integrated into the Broadcast (radio) sector to share sales, production and engineering.

harris_broadcast_logoThis has resulted in various layoffs both in North America and the EMEA, as well as the decision by Denise MacDonell, general manager, to leave the company.

Let’s look at each of these individually.

The DOOH group has always been a small staffed unit trying to do a big job with its own sales, production and engineering, even while part of Harris Broadcast within the larger Harris Corporation. When Los Angeles based investment firm Gores Group took over Harris Broadcast – paying US$225 million – in February, it decided that the DOOH unit would remain separate. (Gores, by the way, took on the Harris Broadcast building as part of the sale, so everybody stayed right where they were, with only a new logo.)

Well, time has shown that Gores decided that the smarter move would be to integrate DOOH into the full broadcast group. This gives the DOOH unit the wider resources of the sales, production and engineering of the broadcast group. And, as part of the broadcast unit, sales staff will be able to sell an integrated package of television, radio and DOOH.

“This is really important in the area of sports, where Harris is strongly involved,” MacDonell told us in an exclusive interview today. “There will now be about 35 people selling a possible integrated package, and the DOOH unit will be able to take advantage of all the engineering and production departments, as well.”

But this also means a rationalization of staff. In the U.S., about half a dozen people have been let go, most senior of whom is Carré Dawson, director of business development for DOOH. And in the EMEA, Nic Ludmer and Graham Smith have been let go. (Hugh Bourne is staying on.)

“Staff losses are an unfortunate byproduct of the merge into the broadcast group. There are always staff redundancies,” says MacDonell.

While MacDonell herself has been given the opportunity to stay with the company, she has decided to look for new opportunities.

“The timing is right for me,” she says. “My oldest son will start high school in September, and I’d really like to pursue new opportunities, especially in Canada. (MacDonell is a native Nova Scotian.) There are several opportunities in Vancouver, and I have worked in Ottawa in the past, but my preference would be Toronto where we’d be near my husband’s family.”

MacDonell plans to stay on at Harris Broadcast until the end of May.

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