Bert Blevis shown holding the Emy awarded|
for the work he oversaw during his tenure at CRC.
NEGOTIATING THE SPECTRUMBert Blevis recalls the story of Hermes,the ITU, SARSAT and THE Emmy!
Bert Blevis, former Director General, Space Technology and Applications at the Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC) and one-time Assistant Deputy Minister, Research and Assistant Deputy Minister, Space Program at the Department of Communications (DOC) lived and worked through some of Shirley Bay's most exciting times.
Blevis is pictured above holding the Emmy that was awarded jointly to NASA and CRC for the advancement in broadcasting technology achieved through the Hermes program. Bert was in New York in 1987 to accept the Emmy on behalf of the team at CRC that worked on the program. He played a key role, first as the Director responsible for the Hermes communications program, and then as the Director General at CRC accountable for all of its space programs. He was also a major player in the negotiations, which established the international standards for the use of satellites for broadcasting.
Starting in 1956 at Shirleys Bay with the Defence Research Board, he was there to witness the beginnings of Canada's space program. He went on to play a senior role in satellite communications research and in several international negotiations that reinforced Canada's position as a respected member of the international science and technology community.
Dr. Blevis points out that, "Technical achievements such as the Alouette/ISIS program, the ANIK satellites, Hermes and SARSAT are remarkable and important in themselves. However, just as important are the power and influence that they provide to a relatively small country like Canada during international negotiations. CRC's pre-eminent research and technical expertise is an essential element in supporting Canada's national and international regulatory responsibilities."
Dr. Blevis represented Canada in 1977 on a delegation to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)'s World Administrative Radio Conference on Satellite Broadcasting in Geneva, where he was appointed Chairman of the Planning Committee for the Americas. He explained that "because of Hermes, Canada was one of the few countries at the time with actual experience and technical expertise in direct satellite broadcasting. This put us into a very powerful position in putting forth our interests at the international telecommunications Union (ITU)".
The ITU, a specialized agency of the United Nations, is the international body that regulates telecommunications standards and the use of radio frequencies by member countries. It was very important for Canada to influence decisions at the ITU in order that Canadian standards and special needs be accommodated in the resulting agreements. The ITU now divides the world into three regions, each of which adopted slightly different plans for the introduction of satellite broadcasting. It would have made a great deal more sense to agree on a uniform plan throughout the world, but getting such widespread agreement among a diversity of political and commercial interests is almost impossible.
Blevis also led Canada's negotiating team for international agreements relating to SARSAT and its then Soviet counterpart COSPAS, the enormously successful Search and Rescue Satellite system that Canada conceived along with the U.S., and helped design and implement in partnership with the U.S., France and the Soviet Union. As a result, Canadian industry was able to capture major contracts to build the satellite on-board transponders and user ground terminals.
Multilateral international agreements implemented through international agencies and standardization organizations such as the ITU continue to be critical to Canada's competitiveness. It is by maintaining our scientific and technical expertise, as we continue to do within Shirleys Bay that we are able to participate in negotiating effectively and successfully and thereby bring economic benefits to Canada."