The Cable Television Public Affairs Association annually sponsors the Beacon Awards program as part of its mission to develop and promote public affairs excellence to help achieve industry, corporate and social goals. The Beacon Awards recognize the best of the best cable public affairs campaigns and showcase the many efforts cable companies are making to improve communities across the country.

This year, CTPAA received hundreds of Beacon entries showing the strong and continuing commitment by the cable industry to public affairs. The entries were submitted by cable operators, programming networks, cable associations and cable technology providers for public-affairs projects aimed at the community, customers, education, employees, government, the media or cable association members. Overseeing the Beacon Committee this year were co-chairs Peggy Ballard, vice president of strategic communications at Scientific-Atlanta Inc., and Brian Wirth, vice president of government and public affairs for Time Warner Cable.

The entries submitted demonstrate the hard work, innovation and dedication of public affairs professionals across the nation. It is through cable public affairs campaigns and the volunteer efforts of cable employees that many local charities, non-profit organizations and schools nationwide receive the funds, materials and services needed to further their missions and help those in need. Just some of the local community projects undertaken by cable companies in 2004 include encouraging people to vote, supporting the troops and their families, and motivating children and adults to become healthier and fit.

Since 1989 when a group of industry leaders founded Cable in the Classroom, education has been the centerpiece of cable's public affairs initiatives, and the 2005 Beacon finalists in education demonstrate the strength of cable's commitment to education. Every year, cable programmers produce an array of educational programming. At the national level, cable networks and system operators are sponsoring scholarship programs, restoring music education programs, and providing to teachers diverse and curriculum-rich resources in every subject area free-of-charge. Locally, cable systems are enabling children to create their own Public Service Announcements, encouraging at-risk students to stay in school, and honoring students' and educators' achievements inside and outside the classroom.

In January and February 2005, 82 cable public affairs professionals judged the Beacon Award entries in an extensive, two-part process that spanned three days at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association headquarters in Washington, D.C. After an in-depth review of judging procedures and the scoring rubric, panels of judges reviewed each submission and chose the Beacon Award finalists and winners. CTPAA will honor the Beacon Award finalists and winners during the Beacon Awards Gala, set for Tuesday, May 3 at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C., in conjunction with CTPAA's Forum 2005 conference, “Expanding Cable's Connections.”

Annually, CTPAA presents the Golden Beacon Award, the association's highest honor, to a public initiative that has made an impact within the cable industry while enhancing cable's image nationwide. The 2005 Golden Beacon finalists are Nickelodeon's “Let's Just Play;” Lifetime Television's “Our Lifetime Commitment: Stop Violence Against Women;” and “Save Our History,” The History Channel.

CTPAA would like to thank Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable for providing a special showcase for the Beacon Awards and is truly grateful to MTV Networks for supporting this year's Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable Beacon Award Finalist supplement. CTPAA is proud to join with Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable to congratulate the 2005 Golden Beacon and Beacon Award finalists.