Harris hired to build Iraqi media

The Defense Contracting Command today said it awarded a $96 million contract to Harris Corp. to provide transmitters, broadcast equipment and information technology services to update Iraq's print, radio and television media.

The Melbourne, Fla.-based communications company, known for its military radios and encryption products, will work with The Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. International and Al Fawares, a Kuwaiti company with Iraqi ownership, to establish the Iraqi Media Network. IMN will take Iraq's existing but antiquated media network and turn it into a modern media organization, said a Jan. 9 Harris statement.

The $96 million base contract covers one year. Two additional six-month contract options could increase its value to almost $165 million, the statement said.

Harris, LBCI and Al Fawares will create IMN's two national radio channels, two national television channels and a national newspaper called "Al Sabah."

"The extensive experience of our Broadcast Communications Division on international projects, combined with the large integration programs expertise of our Government Communications System Division, will ensure the success of this initiative," said Howard Lance, Harris's chairman, president and chief executive officer, in the statement.

LBCI will handle training and content programming for the two radio stations and television channels -- one a satellite all-news program, the other entertainment. Al Fawares, relying on its experience with the "Al Watan" publication in Kuwait, will expand the Al Sabah newspaper nationally, the Harris statement said.

Harris in July created the Iraq Initiatives Office to study and pursue civilian and military business in the country. The company over the past seven months deployed and employed workers there who knew the region, said Lance, during a Jan. 9 telephone interview.

It chose LBCI and Al Fawares because Middle East businessmen consider them the best media firms, Lance said. "This is not a simple project. There will be a lot of challenges. But these are premier companies. We'll provide the project management experience. They'll provide the training and content programming expertise."

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