Liberty's Malone Presents Inaugural "Media For Liberty" Award

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone gave out the company's first "Media For Liberty" award Thursday night to 60 Minutes for "Congo Gold," a segment about how precious minerals have helped fuel the deadliest war since World War II.

The award is for journalism that "explores the relationship between political and economic liberty."

The Congo suffers from a lack of both, with their mineral wealth stripped by warring factions to fuel an ongoing conflict that has claimed 5 million lives since 1996.

Malone, presenting the award to 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley and the piece's producers, called the segment the sort of programming that makes him proud to be in the TV business.

Malone talked briefly about the reason for the journalism award. He chronicled various investments, including in the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour (MacNeil-Lehrer Productions President Les Crystal was in the audience), in Ted Turner's CNN, and in Fox News Channel. Malone said the goal was to have the "broadest platform" possible.

Malone said the challenge today is not how to get those diverse voices heard, but how to pay for them.

The big issue, he said, especially for broadcasting, is how to continue to afford sending reporters to Iraq and keeping them there. He added that distributors--like cable and satellite nets--are doing their part and will likely be supporting broadcasters for some time to come via retransmission consent.

John Eggerton

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.