Anne Schelle

The big push by broadcasters to roll out the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard brings the industry one step closer to a longstanding goal — transforming television from an “old” media into a new one. Once fully deployed, ATSC 3.0 broadcasts will have all the features of interactivity, mobility, personalization and new technology that consumers have come to expect from innovative tech startups.

One key person in that effort is Anne Schelle, the executive director of Pearl TV, a consortium of eight large broadcasting companies covering 60% of U.S. homes. One of the group’s most key current projects is working with other station owners and networks to successfully roll out ATSC 3.0.

Broadcasters involved in the effort note that her expertise as a pioneering executive in the mobile industry and her work bringing companies together to build ecosystems for the rollout of new technologies make her a well-deserving Technology Leadership Awards winner.

“Anne has a unique combination of talents and wills in the areas of technology, strategy and business across broadcast digital and wireless,” said Sandhi Kozsuch, chairman of Pearl TV and principal, strategic and industry initiatives at Cox Media Group. “Mix that with smarts, energy and determination and you have one-of-a-kind leader like Anne.”

Schelle began her tech career in early days of the analog wireless industry in 1985 with McCaw Cellular. By the early 1990s, she was at the Personal Communications Industry Association, helping create the regulatory and legislative groundwork for the digital wireless industry. Then, she was part of the founding management team as VP of external affairs at American Personal Communications, which did businesses as Sprint Spectrum. The nation’s first digital PCS licensee, it launched a wireless network in 1995.

Her expertise in wireless eventually led her to work with broadcasters on the Open Mobile Video Consortium, and in 2014 as managing director of Pearl TV, where she has been heavily involved their efforts to lay the groundwork for the launch of ATSC 3.0. “There aren’t many times when you get an opportunity to be part of a transformative technology and see it happen,” Schelle said. “I’ve been fortunate to be part of three transformative services with wireless, with mobile TV on a smaller scale, and now with ATSC 3.0, where I’m trying to use my skills in bringing companies together to create the ecosystem it needs to be successful.”

Schelle stressed that some of the same factors that led to the success of mobile services will also be crucial in the development of ATSC 3.0. “There is an ecosystem that has to get built that will allow innovation to happen,” she said. “And that is what we are doing with ATSC 3.0,” with industrywide cooperation through groups like Pearl and tests in cities like Phoenix.

“The consumer testing and business model testing we’re doing in Phoenix with 10 stations and seven station groups will help us figure out the elements and partnerships that are necessary to build an innovative ecosystem,” Schelle added.