Brian Lamb, chairman and CEO of C-SPAN and patron saint of political junkies, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
The ever-gracious Lamb, who started the cable public-affairs network with funding from the cable industry, said Monday that he was honored and that he accepted the award "on behalf of the cable-television industry, which created C-SPAN as a public service almost 30 years ago for the American people.”
President George W. Bush announced eight recipients of the award Monday, which goes to "any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Of Lamb, the White House said: "Brian P. Lamb has elevated America's public debate and helped to open up our government to citizens across the nation. His dedication to a transparent political system and the free flow of ideas has enriched and strengthened our democracy."
The medal will be awarded at a White House ceremony Nov. 5.
C-SPAN began covering the U.S. House of Representatives in March 1979, added coverage of Hill hearings in 1981 and first covered the Senate in June 1986.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association praised the selection: "We are delighted to congratulate Brian Lamb on the announcement that he is to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom," said NCTA in a statement. "Most Americans probably take for granted C-SPAN's unique contribution to our democracy, but it is worth reflecting that it could have been a much different outcome without Brian Lamb. Brian was the industry's torch carrier in persuading Congress more than a quarter-century ago to support his then-revolutionary idea of televising Congressional proceedings - no easy task at the time.
"The cable industry thanks Brian for his extraordinary leadership in creating and guiding C-SPAN, which provides the American people a ringside seat to government and reflects the best about the conduct of a free people and their civic and governmental institutions."
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.