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Awardee Profiles - 1998

Robert Decherd, Freedom of Speech Award
Steve Case, American Horizon Award
Tom Bliley, Special Guest

Robert Decherd, Recipient of the Freedom of Speech Award

Robert W. Decherd has played a significant role in the newspaper and broadcasting industries, not only as a corporate leader but as a supporter of free speech and free press principles. His advocacy of the First Amendment has earned him the Media Inst itute's Freedom of Speech Award.

Mr. Decherd is the Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of the A.H. Belo Corporation of Dallas, one of the country's premier news gathering organizations. The company owns or operates six daily newspapers (including the Dallas Morning News and the Providence Journal), 21 network-affiliated television stations, and three cable news channels.

Mr. Decherd began his career with Belo at the Dallas morning New in 1973 In 1978 he became Belo's first corporate staff executive. Beginning in 19981, Mr. Decherd served successively as Vice President, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and President of the Company. He was elected to Belo's board of directors in 1976.

Mr. Decherd is a past president of the freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and of the Dallas Society of Professional Journalists. He has also served on the executive committee of the Newspaper association of America. In 1997, President Clinton appointed to the presidential Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters. In this role, Mr. Decherd has worked diligently to uphold the First Amendment rights of broadcasters.

A cum laude graduate of Harvard College, Mr. Decherd was class orator and president of the Harvard Crimson.

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Steve Case, Recipient of the American Horizon Award

Steve Case earned the American Horizon Award for his visionary role in creating the world's leading online services and content company. The Media Institute presents this award to recognize leadership in promoting the vitality and independence of American media and Communication.

Mr. Case is Chairman and Chief Executive Office of America Online, Inc. , which he co-founded 13 years ago. From its beginning as a dial-up service for Quantum computer owners, AOL has experiences remarkable growth . It reached 1 million members in 1 994, 5 million in 1996, and 10 million in 1997. Over the past five years, AOL has grown from 250 employees and annual revenues of $30 million to nearly 10, 000 employees and more than $2.2 billion in revenues.

In Europe, America Online and Bertelsmann AG formed a joint venture that has become the premier European Internet online business in a rapidly growing market. America Online also operates international services in Canada, Japan, and Australia, and is poised to launch a service in Hong Kong. Earlier this year AOL acquired the worldwide Internet online service of CompuServe. Meanwhile AOL Studios has become the worlds foremost creator of original interactive content.

At the same time, the AOL Foundation supports grassroots programs that use the interactive medium to help foster community , enhance teaching and learning, and improve people's lives across the economic spectrum.

Born and raised in Hawaii, Mr. Case graduated from Williams College with a degree in Political Science.

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Tom Bliley, Special Guest

The Honorable Tom Bliley of Virginia is serving his second term as Chairman of the House Committee on Commerce. In the 104th Congress, Congressman Bliley spearheaded passage of the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996, opening a trillion-dollar-a-ye ar industry to fair, free, and open trade.

Congressman Bliley began his political career in 1968 when he was elected to the City Council of Richmond, Virginia. He served as Vice Mayor from 1968 to 1970 and as Mayor from 1970 to 1977. he was first elected to Congress in 1980 and has been electe d to each succeeding Congress.

A lifelong resident of the Richmond Area, Congressman Bliley served in the U.S. Navy and rose to the rank of Lieutenant following his graduation from Georgetown University. He has received honorary doctoral degrees from Georgetown, Virginia Commonwealt h University, Christopher Newport College, and Belmont Abbey College.

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