Rene Anselmo co-founded top commercial satellite service provider PanAmSat in 1982. He died in 1995 just two days before PanAmSat’s initial public offering after working hard for years to overcome regulatory hurdles. Mr. Anselmo was recognized posthumously in 1999 by NABA for his forward-thinking leadership in the broadcast and satellite industries.
He was a man with “unflinching self-confidence and willingness to risk all in his fight to upend the status quo,” Space News stated in a tribute to Mr. Anselmo. He boldly challenged the monopoly in satellite provision held by Intelsat in the 1980’s, taking out full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal asking political leaders, including former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, to open up the satellite telecommunications market.
Mr. Anselmo was quite blunt when confronting his challenges. PanAmSat’s colourful motto was a quote by Mr. Anselmo: “Truth and technology will triumph over bullshit and bureaucracy.” His audacious full-page ads to U.S. politicians featured the company’s mascot, a dog named Spot, urinating on the legs of those to whom Mr. Anselmo’s message was directed.
Shortly after Mr. Anselmo’s death, Hon. Bill Richardson recognized his contributions in the U.S. House of Representatives, noting his work with Televisa in Mexico City in the 1950’s and ‘60’s which led to him being appointed to start up the Spanish International Network (SIN) in New York which grew exponentially and later became Univision. He then founded PanAmSat to challenge Intelsat’s monopoly on the satellite market, acquiring high profile customers including CNN, ABC, CBS and BBC.
Quoted in an article by Frank Lovece, Mr. Anselmo said of the founding of PanAmSat: “I immediately jumped in because I knew all the satellite service we weren't getting — and the costs for what was available were exorbitant because it was a monopoly market. The whole system had to be changed, and it was a nice, personally challenging thing to do.”
It was a long, difficult road, with many regulatory obstructions to overcome before PanAmSat could establish itself as a key competitor. The Space News tribute recognized that “his legacy was an entire industry - one he created almost single-handedly.”
Sources: Space News International, “Rene Anselmo: The Maverick Who Created An Industry” in the feature “100 Who Made A Difference”; interview with Frank Lovece in Continental Profiles, August 1991; speech by Hon. Bill Richardson to the U.S. House of Representatives, Sept. 29, 1995.