Graves plans departure

Nov 12, 2001  •  Post A Comment

The Advanced Television Systems Committee announced a reorganization last week under which ATSC Chairman Robert Graves will step down Jan. 1 and Mark Richer, the group’s executive director, will become ATSC president.
In a statement, ATSC, an industry group charged with recommending television standards in the United States, said Mr. Graves will head a new organization that plans to encourage adoption of the United States’ DTV standard-ATSC/8VSB-overseas.
During Mr. Graves’ six-year ATSC tenure, the ATSC/8VSB standard was adopted by the United States, Canada, Argentina, South Korea and Taiwan.
But sources said the standard hardly achieved the level of acceptance that industry proponents had once hoped, at least in part because U.S. industry tests revealed that ATSC/8VSB has trouble getting signals to indoor and mobile antennas.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s implementation of the standard appears to have derailed, and broadcasters there are launching operations using a competing international standard, DVB-T/COFDM. Argentina has also announced plans to review its endorsement of ATSC/8VSB.
At least some industry sources blame the lackluster performance on the international stage on inadequate promotion by ATSC.
One well-placed source, however, said it was unfair to hold Mr. Graves responsible. “It was the failure of the technology, not Mr. Graves,” the broadcast-industry source said.
In an interview, Mr. Graves said he believes ATSC/8VSB is receiving serious consideration in many countries. “We believe the prospects are excellent that the ATSC will be adopted as the single digital television standard throughout North and South America,” he said.
Mr. Graves said the new organization he will head will be called the ATSC Forum. He said much of the required funding has already been lined up, but he declined to identify the amount or the sponsors. At least initially, Mr. Graves said, he will be the new organization’s only employee.
For Mr. Graves, the ATSC chairmanship was a paid full-time position. But under the reorganization, ATSC representatives said the slot will be filled with an unpaid, part-time volunteer.