CTAM's Chairman's Award isn't bestowed every year. But this year the association's chairman, Len Fogge, decided Rainbow Media president and CEO Josh Sapan deserved to be recognized for his leadership of the CTAM Educational Foundation and its executive management program, also known as CTAM U.

“As one of the original founders in 1996, Sapan envisioned a world-class educational program to help industry rising stars meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive marketplace,” said Fogge, who is also Showtime Networks' executive vice president of creative and marketing, in a prepared statement. “During his five years as foundation chair, he ensured its financial stability, and unified a dynamic group of industry leaders, who remain committed to making CTAM U one of the finest programs of its kind, not only in cable, but in the country.”

Sapan was happy to do it. “CTAM has had a leadership position in what our industry needs to do next, and CTAM U has played an important role with that,” Sapan says. “I would like to think that Rainbow thinks that way as well, so it was a natural fit for me.”

Just as CTAM is focused on what's around the corner for the cable industry, Rainbow has been pushing the envelope of new products and services ever since Sapan joined Rainbow in 1987 as president of its National Entertainment Division. In 1991, he was promoted to chief operating officer, assuming responsibility for Rainbow's sports and advertising sales divisions. He became CEO in 1995 and under his direction, Rainbow Media has grown substantially, recording more than $1 billion in annual net revenue through its host of successful businesses.

Under Sapan's watchful eye, Rainbow developed and launched American Movie Classics and Bravo. More recently, he was instrumental in the development and launch of MagRack, the company's suite of video-on-demand channels.

MagRack was something the industry didn't quite get when it was first launched, Sapan admits. But the product has been warmly embraced by the industry today. “People were skeptical about it in the beginning, but I think we've been redeemed on VOD,” Sapan says. “When you're initiating new enterprises, CTAM is an ideal forum to introduce them. We did that with VOD, and now we're doing it with our high definition VOOM channels. It's all about staying ahead of the curve.”

Likewise, he says, “CTAM continues to keep management at all levels — at the most senior levels as well as middle management — focused on what the industry needs to do to stay on top.”

CTAM U recently completed its eighth class at Harvard, and CTAM president and CEO Char Beales says Sapan's involvement since the beginning has been instrumental in its success. Indeed, Sapan not only chaired the foundation, he's spoken to various classes for several years. The Chairman's Award isn't the first honor CTAM has bestowed on Sapan; the organization awarded him a Grand TAM Award a few years ago for his leadership skills and talent in propelling the industry, Rainbow Media and CTAM.

“Josh has been involved in the Educational Foundation project from the beginning, and he is not only committed to CTAM U, he has been inspirational,” Beales says. “Now that he has stepped down as chairman of the foundation after five years, this is a great time to honor all his hard work.”