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Awardee Profiles - 1997

Richard M. Schmidt, Jr., Freedom of Speech Award
Edward Fritts, American Horizon Award
Billy Tauzin, Special Guest

Richard M. Schmidt, Jr., Recipient of the Freedom of Speech Award

The Media Institute created the Freedom of Speech Award to recognize individuals who share the Institute1s belief in the First Amendment, and who have made important contributions to the protection and advancement of free speech.

Few individuals have fought longer or harder for free speech and a free press than Richard M. Schmidt, Jr. Of counsel to the law firm of Cohn and Marks in Washington, Mr. Schmidt is perhaps best know as general counsel of the American Society of New spaper Editors, a post he has held since 1969. In that role he has worked tirelessly for the rights of reporters and editors.

Mr. Schmidt spent his early career in Denver in a variety of capacities: working in broadcasting, as a deputy district attorney, teaching at the University of Denver College of Law, and in private law practice. He came to Washington in 1965 as gene ral counsel and congressional liaison for USIA and Voice of America, and served in that role until 1968.

Mr. Schmidt has chaired several American Bar Association committees and has been active on a variety of others. He serves on the boards of trustees of the University of Denver (where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees), the National Press Foundation, the Washington Journalism Center, and the Broadcast Pioneers Library Foundation. He is chairman of the advisory committee of Catholic University's Institute for Communications Law Studies, and is a member of The Media Institute's First Amendment Advisory Council.

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Edward Fritts, Recipient of the American Horizon Award

The American Horizon Award recognizes leadership in promoting the vitality and independence of American media and communications.

Now in his fifteenth year as president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, Eddie Fritts has guided the television and radio broadcasting industry through a time of unprecedented change in technology, competition and regulation. His efforts have earned him The Media Institute's American Horizon Award.

Prior to 1982, Mr. Fritts held several NAB board and committee positions, including the chairmanship of the Joint Board of Directors. Previously he was the owner and president of a radio station group with outlets in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Mr. Fritts served as vice chairman of the State Department's International Media Fund, assisting Eastern European nations in establishing private broadcast systems. He also was vice chairman of President Reagan's White House Private Sector Initiativ es Board.

Mr. Fritts is a director of the Ad Council and a former trustee of the Museum of Television & Radio. He serves on the boards of several organizations, including the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, Partnership for a Drug-Free America, and the University of Mississippi Foundation.

An "Ole Miss" alumnus, Mr. Fritts received the first Ole Miss Silver Mike Award for significant contributions to broadcast journalism, and has received numerous other honors.

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Billy Tauzin, Special Guest

The Honorable Billy Tauzin is currently serving his tenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Since January 1997 he has been chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection, where he has overseen the i mplementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Presently, Congressman Tauzin ranks second in seniority among Republicans on both the House Commerce Committee and the House Committee on Resources. He also serves in the House leadership as Deputy Majority Whip, and is co-chairman of the Mainstream Conservative Alliance, better known as the Republican "Blue Dogs."

Prior to being elected to Congress in 1980, Congressman Tauzin served with distinction in the Louisiana State Legislature. He holds an undergraduate degree from Nicholls State University and a law degree from Louisiana State University.

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