President's Award Winner: Paul FitzPatrick

Paul FitzPatrick

Executive Vice President and COO, Crown Media Holdings

Paul FitzPatrick serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Crown Media Holdings Inc., owner and operator of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. Fitz, as many close friends call him, has long been involved in the public affairs arena.

FitzPatrick worked in Washington, D.C., for a United States senator and congressman before spending almost two years in the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy.

He left the Beltway for Colorado, where he was a Fellow at the Aspen Institute Humanistic Studies, worked for the Governor of Colorado and ran a congressional campaign. With the conclusion of the campaign's 18-hour days, FitzPatrick believed the preceding eight years would be his last in the public affairs arena as he embarked on a career in publishing and, for the past 21 years, in cable television programming.

This would prove not to be the case as his publishing career in the 1970s and early '80s proved to be an almost seamless transition to the cable programming business. As editor in chief and COO of a consumer and trade publishing company based in Denver, which included three of the top publications in our business, FitzPatrick became immersed in many things cable, so much so that following the sale of the publishing company to International Thomson, he served as president and COO, and a member of the board and executive committee of C-SPAN.

It was during FitzPatrick's tenure that the efforts of Brian Lamb and team led to the launch of C-SPAN 2 and the early development work of C-SPAN's widely recognized and praised educational initiatives.

In subsequent years, FitzPatrick served as COO of The Weather Channel and Golf Channel, and was deeply involved in the discussions and implementation of two terrific public affairs initiatives: a daily, 10-minute “Weather Classroom” Cable in the Classroom segment and the “Drive, Chip and Putt” initiative, which in its first year, was rolled out in 30 communities; today there are over 100 events.

At Hallmark Channel, FitzPatrick and his colleagues' involvement in public affairs have focused on two highly regarded initiatives. One is the V-Chip; the other is the highly honored “Adoption” programming series and public affairs initiative, with its focus on telling compelling stories about the adoptive process and on establishing community-based programs with cable operators to build awareness about this most important issue.

In addition, FitzPatrick has worked tirelessly with National Cable & Telecommunications Association in its efforts to educate Capitol Hill and the Federal Communications Commission about critical issues, such as a la carte, digital multicast and indecency.