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Ascent digital czar dies

Jose Royo helped post house rise to the top

Jose Royo, chief operating officer of Ascent Media Corp. and CEO of the company’s operating subsidiary, Ascent Media Group, died Tuesday of undisclosed causes in Venice, Calif. He was 44.

Royo played an important role in making Ascent a leading provider of digital services and technology in showbiz. He joined Ascent in 2001 as veep of the Digital Media Center and led long-term planning and partnership initiatives. Royo headed the company’s digital media center and developed services for on-demand programming.

Royo, a native of Spain, studied at Harvard, where he was a Baker Scholar. According to Bill Niles, general counsel and exec VP at Ascent, Royo was fluent in Japanese and Chinese.

“He was a rare combination of a razor-sharp intellect, fierce desire to succeed coupled with the utmost grace, humility, kindness and compassion,” said Niles, who had been friends with Royo ever since the latter joined the company. “There’s nobody in the industry who I think was even close to his expertise.”

Before Ascent, Royo was chief technology officer at Broadband Sports, director of program management at Trilogy Software, lead software architect at Harvard and a teaching fellow in Harvard’s Asian Studies Dept.

Phil Lelyveld, program manager, Consumer 3D Experience Lab Entertainment Technology Center at USC Entertainment Technology, said he interviewed Royo a few times for studies on the future of the post-production industry.

“He was a brilliant individual who understood the implications of the rapidly changing digital entertainment environment and worked to keep Ascent in the forefront of new-media opportunities,” Lelyveld said. “He was generous with both his time and his knowledge.”

Santa Monica-based AMG has more than 40 facilities around the world. Its subsidiaries include Company3, Ascent Media Network Services and Blink Digital.

Royo is survived by his wife and two children. Donations may be made to the Premiere Oncology Foundation via Premiereoncology.org or 2020 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 600, Santa Monica, CA 90404.

(David S. Cohen contributed to this report.)

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