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Awardee Profiles - 2016

Commissioner Ajit Pai, Freedom of Speech Award
Perry Sook, American Horizon Award

Commissioner Ajit Pai
Freedom of Speech Award

Ajit Pai is the senior Republican on the Federal Communications Commission. He was nominated to the FCC by President Barack Obama and was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate on May 7, 2012.

Commissioner Pai has been an outspoken defender of First Amendment freedoms. When the FCC proposed to send researchers into newsrooms to question why reporters cover some stories and not others, Commissioner Pai sounded the alarm. Soon after, the FCC canceled the study. Commissioner Pai has also spoken out about threats to free speech here and abroad and has warned against government efforts to regulate the marketplace of ideas.

Commissioner Pai’s regulatory philosophy is informed by a few simple principles, among them that consumers benefit most from competition, not preemptive regulations, and that the FCC should do everything it can to ensure that its rules reflect the realities of the current marketplace and basic principles of economics.

Commissioner Pai graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1994 and from the University of Chicago Law School in 1997, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and won the Thomas R. Mulroy Prize. In 2010, Pai was one of 55 individuals nationwide chosen for the 2011 Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a leadership development initiative of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The son of immigrants from India, Commissioner Pai grew up in Parsons, Kansas. He now lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Janine; son, Alexander; and daughter, Annabelle.

 

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Perry Sook
American Horizon Award

Perry A. Sook has over 33 years of professional experience in the television and radio broadcasting industries, covering all facets of the business including ownership and M&A, management, sales, on-air talent and news. Sook is the founder, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc., a leading diversified media company that leverages localism to bring new services and value to consumers and advertisers through its traditional media, digital and mobile media platforms. Based in Irving, Texas, Nexstar was formed in 1996 and trades on NASDAQ under the symbol NXST. Pro-forma for the completion of all transactions Nexstar will own, operate, program or provide sales and other services to 171 television stations and their related low power and digital multicast signals reaching 100 markets or approximately 39% of all U.S. television households.

Prior to Nexstar, Mr. Sook was one of the principals of Superior Communication Group, and he previously spent five years with Cox Broadcasting. Early in his career, Mr. Sook was involved in local TV sales and radio sales, and also worked briefly as a television news anchor at the CBS affiliate in Clarksburg, W.V.

Mr. Sook did his undergraduate work at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and was an adjunct professor at Edinboro State University of Pennsylvania. He is a recipient of the NAB/BEA Harold E. Follow Memorial Scholarship, a Board Member of the National Association of Broadcasters, the Television Bureau of Advertising, the NBC Affiliate Board, and a Board Member and Trustee of The Ohio University Foundation.

He and his wife, Sandra, have three children; Laura, Victoria and Perry, Jr., and reside in Flower Mound, Texas.

 

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