Ericsson buzzes back to 2014 as Red Bee Media returns

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Ericsson’s broadcast and media services business created out of the BBC goes back to name abandoned in 2014

Ericsson has gone back in time by three years by reviving the name Red Bee Media for its broadcast and media unit.

The troubled Swedish equipment vendor said today that it will rename all its broadcast and media services business, and go back to the name used until 2014, when it bought the company.

Steve Nylund, CEO of Red Bee Media, said: “We looked at not only our vision and strategy for the future but also what we, as a business, now stand for.”

Red Bee was originally the broadcast services division of the BBC, the UK’s national broadcaster. It was privatised in 2005 when the BBC – looking for ways to cut costs – sold it for £166 million to an Australian consortium centred on the Macquarie group.

Macquarie sold it on to Ericsson nine years later for an undisclosed price. By then Red Bee had picked up broadcast services contracts with satellite broadcaster Sky and has acquired Technicolor’s broadcast services division.

The 2014 deal included 1,500 employees – all but 260 in the UK – and media services and operations facilities in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Australia. The BBC ended its exclusive deal with Ericsson in 2015, when it decided to bring some tasks back in-house and to go to the market for the rest. However, Red Bee today has 2,500 employees, according to Ericsson.

Ericsson said at the time of the deal that its “strategy in TV and media is to help content owners, broadcasters and TV service providers evolve to meet consumer demands for video experiences on any device, anytime, anywhere”.

Now, the decision to rebrand will be seen by some as a move away from that strategy, possibly leading to a sale of the business.

Nylund said today: “The Red Bee Media brand has a long and rich heritage in TV and media and is well recognised across the industry. Adopting this brand will enable us to strengthen our position as an independent and agile media services organisation. It will provide the basis for our business, our people and our clients to unify around a shared identity that represents our purpose, brand positioning and values.”

Ericsson said that earlier this year it had “presented a focused business strategy to revitalise technology and market leadership, improve group profitability and enable customer success. This includes exploring strategic opportunities for the company’s media businesses while continuing to develop solutions to enable the businesses to scale and succeed in the evolving media landscape.”