Rene Anselmo, a pioneer in U.S. and Spanish-language TV, as well as international satellite broadcasting, died Sept. 20 in Greenwich, Conn., after a long illness. He was 69.
At the time of his death Anselmo was chairman of Pan-AmSat Corp., the world’s only private, global satellite-services company, which he founded in 1984.
Anselmo’s passing comes just as PanAmSat prepares to make an initial public offering of 19% of its shares. The IPO is forecast to value the company at $1.7 billion-$2 billion.
Company sources, however, say Anselmo’s capacity as CEO was assumed by PanAmSat president Fred Landman about a year ago, and the founder’s death is unlikely to affect the stock sale.
Known as something of a maverick, Anselmo, an Italian-American, first rose to prominence as the driving force behind Spanish-Language TV in the U.S. With financial backing from his friend Emilio Azcarraga, CEO of Mexican media conglom Televisa, Anselmo founded the Spanish International Network, now known as the leading U.S. Hispanic web, Univision.
“He was key in setting up Spanish-language television when no one else really believed in it,” Larry Dam, prexy of Televisa’s U.S. subsidiary Univisa and a friend of Anselmo’s, told Variety.
Anselmo was forced to sell his stake in SIN in the mid-1980s, but invested $100 million of the proceeds in his newly founded satellite company PanAmSat.
“He approached a business that people don’t understand – satellite communications – and said ‘It’s all about distribution and taking care of broadcasters,’ “said Lourdes Saralegui, exec VP of PanAmSat.
“He talked about a satellite that would unite the Americas, which he launched in 1988. The first person he convinced that there would be a market was Ted Turner,” Saralegui added.
PanAmSat now serves 300 customers worldwide, it has three birds operating and another due for launch in December, which will provide a Latino DBS service in partnership with Televisa. Revenues for last year were $63.7 million, but are expected to be much higher than this year due to the success of Asia-directed satellite Pas-4.