2013 Awardee Profiles

American Horizon Award Recipient

Senator Gordon H. Smith
President & CEO
Nat. Association of Broadcasters

Gordon H. Smith joined the National Association of Broadcasters as president and CEO in November 2009.  Since then, he has led the broadcasting industry into an era of innovation marked by unprecedented challenges from other delivery platforms.  Prior to joining the NAB, he served as a two-term U.S. senator from Oregon and later as senior advisor in the Washington offices of Covington & Burling LLP.  Sen. Smith presently serves on the Free Speech Week Advisory Council.

During his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Smith’s committee assignments included the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, the panel that oversees all broadcast-related legislation.  Regarded as a constructive conservative, he also served on the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Foreign Relations Committee.  His role on the Commerce Committee and as chairman of a Senate High Tech Task Force helped foster his interest in new media and new technology issues.

Born in Pendleton, Ore., Sen. Smith attended Brigham Young University, received his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, and practiced law in New Mexico and Arizona before returning to Oregon to direct the family-owned Smith Frozen Foods business in Weston.  Before his election to the U.S. Senate in 1996, he was elected to the Oregon State Senate, becoming president of that body after only three years.  Sen. Smith and his wife, Sharon, have three children and three grandchildren.

Freedom of Speech Award Recipient

Josh Sapan
President & CEO
AMC Networks

Josh Sapan is president and CEO of AMC Networks Inc., which owns and operates several of the most popular and award-winning brands in cable television: AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel, WE tv, and IFC Films.

One of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and visionary executives, Mr. Sapan is credited with transforming basic cable into a leading entertainment destination with original series that include AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” “Mad Men,” and “Breaking Bad”; IFC’s “Portlandia”; Sundance Channel’s “Rectify” and “Top of the Lake”; and WE tv’s “Braxton Family Values.”

Named CEO in 1995, Mr. Sapan led the company’s successful spin-off from Cablevision Systems Corp. in June 2011, when AMC Networks began trading as a separate public company on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange.

In addition to spearheading the evolution of the company’s cable channels, Mr. Sapan has been instrumental in bringing independent film to a wide audience through the company’s IFC Films distribution label.  By pioneering a strategy of same-day theatrical and video-on-demand film release, Mr. Sapan created a new model for film distribution that is now widely used throughout the movie industry.

Mr. Sapan was lauded by Fast Company magazine as one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business,” and was a recipient of the 2012 Paley Prize for Innovation and Excellence.  Mr. Sapan has been inducted into the Cable Center Hall of Fame and the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, and has received many other industry honors.