Softel Group Divests Aston Broadcast Video Graphics Business to Focus on Interactive TV and Subtitling

The Softel Group announced Monday that it is selling its video graphics systems company, Aston Broadcast, for an undisclosed amount to real-time graphics specialist, Brainstorm Multimedia. According to the company, the sale of Aston Broadcast is the latest in a number of major changes that have been initiated by CEO, Sam Pemberton (who was formerly president and CEO of Softel's Softel-USA arm--which he also founded), since he took the helm of the company back in July, 2007. Pemberton is in the process of restructuring the company in order to re-focus it on the ancillary data technologies that it considers its core competencies, including interactive TV and subtitling solutions. "We were approached by a number of potential purchasers, but we felt Brainstorm was by far the best choice for our customers going forward," Pemberton said in a prepared statement. "Aston Broadcast has a longstanding relationship with Brainstorm and they are intimately familiar with the product, and crucially Brainstorm has a history of providing exceptional service to their customers and delivering pioneering solutions. We are very proud to have provided blue-chip broadcasters and premier signage companies with the Aston 7 system over the past several years and it is clear that 'A7' has proven to be a sophisticated, yet intuitive and robust solution for broadcast and display graphics. We know that the nuances of the graphics market require true focus, and we are delighted that Brainstorm will add their in-depth market know-how to the Aston offering."

According to Pemberton, the broadcast industry is currently undergoing "exciting technical and business shifts," and the Softel Group is working with broadcasters to ensure that new business models and ecosystems can cope with the challenges of ancillary data throughout the transition to multi-format, multi-platform delivery. "As the industry adapts to a decrease in traditional linear advertising, ITV applications such as interactive advertisements (iAd's) are becoming increasingly important as they allow broadcasters to pocket critical incremental revenues and differentiate their brands," Pemberton explained. "Moreover, modern subtitling systems open a wider audience for programming through language translation and by allowing hearing impaired viewers to engage with content."

The Softel Group claims to have over 25 years of experience in providing ancillary data solutions--including solutions for interactive TV, opt cuing/ad insertion, subtitling and captioning--to leading broadcasters and service providers across the world. It says that its divestment of Aston Broadcast will allow it to "deliver additional strategic focus" to what is sees as an expanding market for such solutions. Among other things, it says it is launching a range of new and overhauled products to cater to "major trends" in the industry, including the move toward automated and tapeless environments. (Note: for an in-depth overview of the Softel Group and its work in the interactive TV space, see the interview with Sam Pemberton published on itvt.com, July 31st.)

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