Norman J. Pattiz, U.S. Broadcasting Board Governor and Founder/Chairman of Westwood One Radio, will discuss the role of the new Middle East Radio Network during his speech to the nation’s leading broadcasters at the annual New Media Seminar where he will be the recipient of the 2002 Freedom of Speech Award. The award will be presented at a special luncheon at noon on Saturday, May 18, at the Hudson Hotel (356 West 58 Street, NY). The ceremony will also feature Forbes magazine publisher, Steve Forbes, speaking about the importance of free speech in our society.
In announcing the board’s choice for this year’s Freedom of Speech award, Blanquita Cullum, president of the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts (NARTSH), stated “Mr. Pattiz is being honored for his outstanding work as a presidential-appointed member of the United States Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in establishing the new Middle East Radio Network to counterbalance anti-American propaganda in the Arab world.”
Mr. Pattiz serves on the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors’ executive committee as chairman of the Middle East sub-committee and is co-chair of the language review sub-committee. He recently led a delegation to the Middle East and signed agreements on behalf of the BBG in Bahrain and Qatar for FM radio transmission and also received commitments from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, in addition to Amman, Jordan and Kuwait.
The Middle East Radio Network (MERN), which began broadcasting on March 23rd as “Radio Sawa” the Arabic word for “together”, is a pilot project of the Voice of America. It is a new 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, Arabic language service aimed at listeners under 30. The network will broadcast news, interviews, opinion pieces, sports, weather, music and features on a variety of political and social issues. Operating from Washington and the Middle East broadcast center in Dubai, MERN will be distributed on AM, FM, digital audio satellite and the Internet.
The BBG is an independent agency created in 1999 to supervise U.S. international broadcasting, which includes the Voice of America, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti), WORLDNET Television, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia. The bipartisan board is comprised of nine governors, eight of whom are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The ninth is the Secretary of State who is an ex-officio member. As chairman of the Middle East subcommittee, Pattiz has been working to dramatically expand the VOA’s presence in the Middle East by setting up the 24-hour radio network in the region.
Mr. Pattiz has stated, “We are committed to making sure people can hear America’s voice and better understand our country and what it stands for.”
The New Media Seminar is an annual event presented by TALKERS magazine. Past keynote speakers include President George W. Bush; Parade magazine publisher Walter Anderson; and Court TV founder Steven Brill. The Freedom of Speech Award is the highest honor presented annually by the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts. It is presented to the broadcaster who makes the greatest contribution each year to promoting and preserving the values inherent in the First Amendment. Other recipients of the award over the years include Brian Lamb, C-SPAN founder and CEO; Bill O’ Reilly, FOX News Channel host and author; and Matt Drudge, ABC Radio host and famous Internet reporter.