Las Vegas -- DirecTV founder Eddy Hartenstein was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Monday Nnght for creating a service that became “the driver of quality, choice and competition for television to the American consumer.”
Ironically, Hartenstein, in accepting the award, noted that the man who almost two decades ago gave inspiration for the launch of the direct-broadcast satellite service may well end up owning it this year.
“It was in  at what was once a very large show, the Western Cable Show in Anaheim [Calif.], that a gentleman talked about a visionary 500-channel universe," Hartenstein said at the awards ceremony at the Venetian Hotel and Resort here. He and a cadre of cohorts “looked at that and said, 'Yeah, I think we can do that.' And lo and behold, through a lot of metamorphoses, close to 17-and-a-half years later, if the deal does go through, that gentleman will have the company that we all created."
That man is John Malone, who in 1992 was chief executive of Tele-Communications Inc., the nation’s largest cable-system operator. Today, Malone heads Liberty Media, which reached a deal with News Corp. to acquire its controlling stake in DirecTV for $11 billion.
Hartenstein said the launch of DirecTV in 1994 “made it possible for the important things to have a place on TV,” such as C-SPAN, the service devoted to live covererage of national legislative proceedings.
Not coincidentally, Hartenstein was presented with his award by Brian Lamb, founder of C-SPAN. Lamb said Hartenstein “built one of the most beautiful machines in technology,” snd never lost a zest for life in the doing.
Three days after the first DirecTV signal was sent to Earth in 1994, Hartenstein saw a white Bronco on the news going down the 405 near the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles, Lamb noted. Instead of simply watching on the service he created, he urged Lamb to go with him to the top of the company’s office building and watch the Bronco go by. Which may be one of the reasons, as Lamb noted, he goes by the first name Eddy, not Edward.
Other winners of Technology Emmies Monday night included:
• Pioneering Development of the On-Screen Display for Setup, Control and Configuration of Consumer Television Equipment: RCA-TTE;
• Outstanding Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Synchronous Enhancement of Original Television Content: DirecTV Interactive Sports;
• Streaming Media Architectures and Components: Microsoft, Adobe Systems, RealNetworks and Apple Computer;
• Outstanding Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Non-Synchronous Enhancement of Original Television Content: The-N.com Video Mixer, The N;
• Pioneering Development for Combining Multiple Transport Streams That Are already Encoded, Using Rate-Shaping and Statistical Remultiplexing: Terayon Communication Systems;
• Outstanding Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Creation of Nontraditional Programs or Platforms: Sling Box, Sling Media;
• Development and Implementation of Automatically Assembled Dynamic Customized TV Advertising: Visible World, The Weather Channel;
• Technology Advances in Serial Digital Interface Solutions, Enabling Over 20 Years of Seamless Studio and Broadcast Infrastructure Migration: Gennum;
• Outstanding Innovation and Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Best Use of Personal Media Display and Presentation Technology: Xross Media Box, Sony Computer Entertainment;
• Privately Owned and Operated International Satellite Company Primarily for International Video Services: Rene Anselmo, PanAmSat;
• Outstanding Innovation and Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Best Use of On-Demand Technology Over Private Networks: Time Warner Cable’s Start Over Service (Time Warner Cable, Concurrent Computer, BigBand Networks, Harmonic and Scientific Atlanta);
• Outstanding Innovation and Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Best Use of On-Demand Technology Over the Public Internet: Stim TV, NPowr;
• Outstanding Innovation and Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for Best Use by Commercials in Creation and Use in Non-Traditional Platforms and Technologies: TiVo Interactive Advertising Platform, TiVo;
• Peripheral Development and Technological Impact of Video Game Controllers: Nintendo, Sony;
• Development of 3-D Software Engines: John Carmack, id Software; and
• Pioneering Work in Near and Real-Time Fully Programmable Shading Via Modern Graphics Processors: Microsoft, AMD, Nvidia.