HRTS launches First Amendment Throwdown

Plans to include Fox News, FCC commissioner on 2011 panel

The Hollywood Radio and Television Society is planning a first ever First Amendment Throwdown, which organizers say will be a more unbuttoned panel than the organization's usual industry events.

HRTS president Kevin Beggs said Monday that the free speech issue only gets thornier, as he pointed to the ongoing flaps involving Fox's "Family Guy," the still-festering Super Bowl snafu with Janet Jackson and the continuing broadcast gripes about cable's relatively unfettered regulation.

Calling First Amendment issues "polarizing," Beggs added that the organization hoped to get provocative "casting" for the panel, including a Fox News executive as well as an FCC commissioner. It is scheduled for June 2011 and is just one of the monthly events the L.A.-based industry group has planned for the broadcast year.

Beggs and executive director Dave Ferrara both put the accent on the need for their industry events to be "entertaining" and a little more "provocative." These events are more useful, Ferrara said, when panelists really "get into it." He cited the recent back-and-forth onstage among a half-dozen key reality TV producers as one of the more fulfilling, per member feedback.

HRTS's annual program begins Tuesday with a one-on-one interview by Broadcasting & Cable editor-in-chief Ben Grossman with News Corp.'s Chase Carey at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. That will be followed in October by the group's signature event, the Broadcast Network Chiefs. Also on the docket: the Hitmakers-Scripted in December, the Cable Chiefs in March, and the Hitmakers-Reality in April.

The State of the Industry - First Amendment Throwdown event is slated for June.

Newly elected officers are Beggs, who is also president of Lionsgate TV and is being re-upped for a second term; Sarah Timberman, a principal of Timberman/Beverly Prods., as vice president; Sean Perry, co-department head of alternative television at WME Entertainment, as secretary; and Martha Henderson, evp at the entertainment division of City National Bank, who is re-elected as treasurer.

New HRTS board members are Leigh Brecheen, a partner at Bloom Hergott; Ian Moffit, svp of programming at BBC Worldwide; and David Nevins, president of entertainment at Showtime.

"This is an organization which is vital to the broadcasting and media industry and it is without question the pre-eminent networking organization for multiple generations of top creative and business executives," Beggs said.

HRTS also oversees the rapidly expanding Junior HRTS (JHRTS), with 300 L.A.-based members, and a new chapter being launched in New York. JHRTS programs 15 educational, networking and philanthropic activities throughout the year, including a holiday party benefit.

HRTS also announced an extension of the organization's relationship with charitable partner for the homeless, My Friend's Place.
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