On my Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award

In a press release today the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announces that I have been selected to receive the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award, “a special engineering honor to an individual whose contributions over time have significantly affected the state of television technology and engineering”.

I should be happy to see the recognition of 30 years of work dedicated to making real the vision of humans finally free to communicate without barriers and sharing more and more rewarding digital media experiences. Still, I need to make a few remarks.

The first remark is that my endeavours were driven by the hand of God and that tens, hundreds and thousands of people have made MPEG what it is recognised for: the originator of standards that have changed the lives of billions of people for the better.

The second remark concerns the word “lifetime” in the name of the award. This sort of implies that my professional lifetime has been observed in its entirety. I hereby communicate that I do not intend to retire anytime soon.

The last and most important remark concerns two necessary conditions for the success of MPEG standards. MPEG demonstrably achieves the first – technical excellence – but those in charge of the second – commercial exploitability – perform less and less. Indeed MPEG approved the HEVC standard in January 2013 (56 months ago!), but prospective users must negotiate with 3 different patent pools and a host of individual patent holders to get a licence. There are standards that will never see the light or, if they will do, will not be used because the standards organisations have been unable to update their processes from the time they dealt with standards for nuts and bolts.

I did my best to reverse this trend by raising awareness on these problems. Vested interests have stopped me, depriving billions of people and various industries of the benefits of new MPEG standards.

I am happy to receive this Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award – for what it means for the past – but with a sour taste for the future, the only thing that matters.