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Jim Kutzner Wins ATSC Bernard Lechner Award

WASHINGTON—The Advanced Television Systems Committee announced that James A. Kutzner is the 2014 recipient of the organization’s highest technical honor, the Bernard J. Lechner Outstanding Contributor Award. The presentation was made during the ATSC Broadcast Television Conference at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center May 8.

Kutzner retired earlier this year as senior director of Advanced Technology at PBS, where he managed engineering and technical projects within PBS. Kutzner is a past member of the ATSC Board and he chaired the ATSC Technology and Standards Group 3 on the development of the next-generation ATSC 3.0 standard. He holds a Masters degree in Engineering Management from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Minnesota.

The Lechner Award is bestowed once a year to an individual representative of the membership whose technical and leadership contributions to the ATSC have been invaluable and exemplary. The title of the award recognizes the first recipient, Bernard Lechner, for his outstanding services to the ATSC. The award winner is selected by the Board of Directors and presented at the ATSC’s spring meeting. Lechner passed away a few weeks ago after a long career in TV technology.

“Throughout his career Jim Kutzner brought his outstanding technical and management skills to the table to advance broadcast TV technology. He is a thoughtful, conscientious leader whose calm and steady presence has facilitated industry agreement,” said ATSC President Mark Richer. “Jim’s leadership in ATSC has been extraordinary.”

Kutzner served as vice chair of the ATSC Implementation Subcommittee; chair of the ATSC T3/S9 Subgroup on Field Testing and also chair of the ATSC Ad Hoc Group on DTV Field Test Measurement and Methodology. On yet another project, as chair of the ATSC 3.0 Planning Team, Kutzner led ATSC’s efforts to identify the opportunities and challenges that would be brought about by the development of a next-generation DTV system. Then, as chair of Technology Group 3, he successfully launched the development of ATSC 3.0.

Kutzner served as PBS’ chief engineer and managed systems engineering and technical support for more than a decade, playing a prominent role in the redevelopment of PBS with an eye towards supply chain management from suppliers, through PBS, to customers. He led and managed the development and implementation of the next-generation public television interconnection system.

Previously, Kutzner was senior technology director of the Advanced Television Technology Center in the Washington area, managing and conducting digital TV research and demonstration projects at the very beginning of the digital TV transition.

Kutzner worked twice for Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul, Minnesota, working his way from technician to supervisor and chief engineer from 1973 to 1989. His first stint at PBS was a three-year term in the early 1990’s as associate director of Engineering. He returned to the Twin Cities as vice president of Operations and Engineering for that public broadcaster from 1993 to 1997, where he led a staff of more than 60 full-time employees handling all aspects of technology. 

In addition to his public TV and Advanced Television Test Center service, Kutzner was director of engineering for Comark Digital Services/Thomcast Communications where he initiated the company’s new systems integration division and managed engineering and integration staff and projects to complete customer digital TV installations. 

Kutzner is a Fellow of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and also a frequent contributor of papers and presentations about digital TV to the National Association of Broadcasters, SMPTE, and IEEE. 

Past recipients of the ATSC Lechner Award include:

  • 2000 - Bernard Lechner, Consultant
  • 2001 - Rich Chernock, Triveni Digital
  • 2002 - Regis Crinon, Microsoft
  • 2003 - Glenn Adams, Extensible Formatting Systems, Inc
  • 2004 - Graham Jones, National Association of Broadcasters
  • 2005 - John Henderson, Hitachi
  • 2006 - Art Allison, National Association of Broadcasters
  • 2007 - Mark Eyer, Sony Electronics
  • 2008 - Michael Dolan, TBT
  • 2009 - Wayne Bretl, LG Electronics/Zenith
  • 2010 - Pat Waddell, Harmonic
  • 2011 - Jim Starzynski, NBC Universal
  • 2012 - S. Merrill Weiss, MWG Group
  • 2013 -- Mark Aitken, Sinclair Broadcast Group