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Golden Beacon Award: Court TV’s Unexpected Heroes

3/24/2006 7:00 PM Eastern

Court TV’s “Unexpected Heroes” Initiative is part of the network’s ongoing effort to partner with cable operators throughout the country to recognize the bravery and good deeds of exceptional citizens. The “Unexpected Heroes” award was developed by Court TV in concert with cable operators, legislators, community leaders and law enforcement officials across the United States. In addition to awards ceremonies held in Washington, D.C., and local markets, Unexpected Heroes is a multiplatform campaign that also consists of programming specials and Public Service Announcements.

The programming series are one-hour specials that depict incredible true stories and poignant reunions. The most recent specials featured heroes that emerged from Hurricane Katrina. Unexpected Heroes — The Power of Katrina highlights the stories of individuals who went above & beyond all demands of duty to rescue those affected by the overwhelming onslaught of Hurricane Katrina. These individuals worked selflessly for others, while their own circumstances were uncertain, even desperate. The other special, NOPD: The Aftermath of Katrina, featured two New Orleans police officers who were caught in the eye of the storm and withstood unbelievable obstacles to provide aid to the terrified and ravaged city.

Court TV also held an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., to honor “Heroes of Hurricane Katrina.” The honorees were selected by the cable operators in the Gulf Region hardest hit by the hurricane: Cox Communications Inc., Cable One Inc., Comcast Corp. and Mediacom Communications Corp. Heroes were flown to Washington, D.C., along with their families, and attended an Unexpected Heroes Breakfast where they were honored by their Senators and Congressmen and received special crystal awards. Honorees ranged from Habitat for Humanity, which built thousands of homes for families who lost everything to the hurricane, to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who reunited over 4,000 children with their parents after being separated by Katrina. Additional honorees were everyday citizens who worked for the local cable systems, such as Butch Henley, Marketing Manager for Cable One in Biloxi, Mississippi, who fearlessly dove into rising floodwaters to rescue six people who were drowning, and Joseph Todd, a dispatcher with Cox New Orleans who was among the first to take his own boat to Charity Hospital, which was flooded by the hurricane, and transport dozens of sick and elderly patients to safety.

“The heroic stories are endless,” Louisiana Senator David Vitter said at the awards breakfast. “It is great to have events like these that shine a light on the positive actions taken by the citizens in our communities, in contrast to the sole negative images portrayed in the news.”

Court TV provides extensive PR to support the events as well as offering cable operators customized PSAs of their honorees to air in their local markets. This program is sponsored by national and local advertisers and represents a successful collaboration among programming, public affairs, affiliate relations, PR and ad sales. This is one initiative where everybody comes together for a mutual purpose and everyone involved leaves feeling like a winner.

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