Profile: Tim Thorsteinson

Jun 3, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Title: President and chief operating officer of the Grass Valley business unit of Thomson Broadcast Solutions, a division of Thomson Multimedia
Background: Mr. Thorsteinson most recently served as CEO of the Grass Valley Group before it was purchased by Thomson Multimedia earlier this year. He also worked as president of the video and networking division of Tektronix and spent 12 years at National Semiconductor Corp.
Digital technology transition: “It is occurring slower than everyone expected, but it’s mitigated by the fact that we are in a capital-spending recession of epic proportions,” he said. “Digital technology does a couple of things. It enables more flexibility and it is more efficient. [Stations] will convert to digital when it makes economic sense. There is real pent-up demand. There are a lot of people who would like to transition, like to be digital, but they don’t have the money. So you [as an equipment supplier] just hunker down.”
Feeling the pain: Mr. Thorsteinson understands the position his customers are in with restrained spending. “I have 200 design engineers in my business, and if they could work on more powerful workstations they would be more efficient, but I can’t afford it. We’ve had to really clean up our business model-take out layers of management, simplify the work process, eliminate some products and consolidate locations,” he said.
Broadcast spending: While the spending downturn began six quarters ago, it has finally bottomed out, he said. “Our business has been stable for two to three quarters,” Mr. Thorsteinson said. “In a flat market our equipment has to allow [stations] to be more efficient … so they can wring out the business model and put the programming on the air with the same costs or less.”
Business sense: “Broadcasters are more business-oriented than they were five to 10 years ago because most are publicly traded and that is the root of all evil,” he said. “Now broadcasters are being bought out by groups and the market is consolidating, so they are buying more stations and trying to drive earnings per share.”