Harris gets Iraq media network contract

Harris Corp. has won a one-year, $96 million contract to upgrade an antiquated media network into a modern media organization for Iraq. The contract was awarded by the Defense Contracting Command-Washington on behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority currently governing the country.

The contract could run up to an additional year, bringing its total value to nearly $165 million.

The Iraqi Media Network program includes equipment, operation, training and provisioning of programming for national radio and television networks and a national newspaper with locations in Baghdad and more than 30 other sites throughout the country.

'Our charge is to put in place a fully functioning media network, including radio stations, television stations and daily newspaper, which will be run, staffed and operated by local citizens,' said Howard Lance, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Melbourne, Fla. company. 'Our [responsibility] is to lead this project, provide hardware such as broadcast transmitters, and software such as station automation equipment.'

Harris will be working with two local teammates on the project: The Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. International, a Middle Eastern media network, and Al Fawares, a Kuwaiti company with Iraqi ownership. LBCI will provide training and content programming for the two radio channels and two television channels, one for news, the other for entertainment. All four channels will be terrestrial; the all-news TV channel will also be available by satellite. Al Fawares will assist in expanding the newspaper nationally, and will provide security, logistics and construction services.

Lance said this contract is the company's first to come about specifically for the rebuilding of Iraq. 'We have ' supported other customers over the years; we have a lot of business in the Middle East,' he said. 'We put some equipment in through Voice of America [and] we have supported some Kuwaiti and Saudi companies in commercial communications.'

The company will have 'just a handful' of employees in Iraq for the project, Lance said.

Patience Wait writes for Washington Technology magazine.

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