Redstone Gets Free Speech Kudo

Sumner Redstone, CEO of CBS and MTV owner Viacom, will receive the Freedom of Speech award from the Media Institute in Washington.

The institute is a communications policy/First Amendment think tank supported by media companies including Belo, Clear Channel, Cox, Gannett, News Corp., Time Warner, Tribune, and Viacom. The award goes to an executive who has "advanced the freedom of expression."

The Institute has not officially announced the selections, but Redstone is likely getting the nod in part for CBS's fight against the FCC's indecency crackdown. The company has taken the commission to court twice in the past few months over fines and findings regarding indecency and profane speech, once as part of a general broadcaster challenge to four profanity rulings, the other in CBS' ongoing fight against the $550,000 fine for Janet Jackson's Super Bowl half-time show, which it asserts was not indecent. The latter came after his selection for the award, but CBS has been telegraphing that punch for months.

Glenn Britt, Time Warner Cable president and CEO, will receive the institute's American Horizon Award for "leadership in promoting the vitality and independence of American media and communications."

The awards will be handed out Oct. 16 at the annual Friends & Benefactors Awards Banquet. The speaker will be FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate.

Recent award winners include Fox's Roger Ailes, NBC's Bob Wright, and Oxygen's Geraldine Laybourne.

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.