Viacom is a leading global media company, with preeminent positions in broadcast and cable television, radio, outdoor advertising, and online. With programming that appeals to audiences in every demographic category across virtually all media, the company is a leader in the creation, promotion, and distribution of entertainment, news, sports, and music. Viacom's well-known brands include CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, BET, Paramount Pictures, Viacom Outdoor, Infinity, UPN, TNN: The National Network, CMT: Country Music Television, Showtime, Blockbuster, and Simon & Schuster. The company's brands have taken a leading role in harnessing their media expertise to respond to HIV, particularly MTV and BET.
In October 2002 Viacom Inc. and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation announced a comprehensive global media campaign beginning January 6, 2003 to fight HIV/AIDS through public service messages (PSAs), television and radio programming, as well as outdoor, print and online content. The multi-year initiative will combine Viacom's programming assets and multiple media platforms in the U.S. and internationally with the public health and information expertise of the Kaiser Family Foundation to create and disseminate HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention messages. Viacom has pledged ad placements for 2003 valued at $120 million, which will run across the company's television, radio, outdoor advertising and online properties.
In the more than two decades since the epidemic began, 60 million people worldwide, including almost a million and a half in the U.S., have become infected. More than twenty million people across the globe have died. Today, more than half of new HIV infections are among people under age 25. While there is not yet a cure for AIDS, it can be prevented. UNAIDS estimates that two-thirds of the HIV infections projected to occur over the next decade could be avoided with increased awareness and global prevention efforts.
Sumner Redstone, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom, said, "HIV/AIDS is killing millions of people young and old all over the world, yet it is 100% preventable. Viacom is proud to join the fight against the ignorance, apathy, and inaction that allows the epidemic to spread. We are not only lending our assets but our voices and our resolve to helping stem the tide."
Mel Karmazin, President and Chief Operating Officer of Viacom, said, "We are putting Viacom's media resources behind a comprehensive, targeted campaign. As the largest collection of ad platforms in the industry and a leading creator of entertainment and information, Viacom is uniquely suited to get the word out. Working closely with our partners at the Kaiser Family Foundation, our creative, production and marketing teams are already hard at work developing a branded campaign and programming elements that will promote better understanding of the disease and its prevention."
Mr. Karmazin added: "HIV/AIDS is devastating people of all genders, races and ethnic backgrounds. It is an epidemic without borders and continues to spread at alarming rates across the planet. As a global company and an organization of concerned human beings, we want to do our part and use our expertise where we can help the most. We hope others in our industry will join us by airing the messages or getting involved in other ways."
Drew E. Altman, Ph.D., President of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, "The combination of Viacom's creative capabilities and reach and the Kaiser Family Foundation's expertise on HIV and public education will help millions of people learn more about AIDS and how it can be prevented. Global AIDS is the greatest health challenge of our generation and the media can be a powerful tool in educating people about the disease. This campaign represents an unprecedented commitment in the fight against AIDS."
Every division of Viacom will be involved in the campaign, including cable television brands MTV, BET, Showtime, VH1, TNN, CMT, and others; broadcasters CBS and UPN; over 180 Infinity radio stations; Viacom Outdoors' ubiquitous billboards and transit displays; publisher Simon & Schuster; television producers Paramount Television, Viacom Productions, CBS Productions and King World; Paramount Pictures; Paramount Home Entertainment; Viacom's online properties; and home entertainment chain Blockbuster, among others.
In the U.S., the campaign will seek to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and promote prevention among the population-at-large and target groups that have been particularly hard hit by the disease, including youth, people of color, women, and men who have sex with men. During the first year, Viacom and Kaiser will produce public service messages for television, radio and outdoor. The PSAs will include a call-to-action and direct audiences to a comprehensive Web site or a toll-free number. All PSAs will be offered rights-free to other media outlets.
Under the entertainment programming component of the campaign, Kaiser has been holding briefings on HIV/AIDS for the creators of primetime series produced by or for Paramount Television, CBS, UPN and Showtime. As a result, a number of series have committed to including HIV/AIDS story lines and script references in shows, including Girlfriends, Enterprise, Becker, Frasier, The District, The Agency, and Queer as Folk. HIV/AIDS themes will also be explored on syndicated talk shows and game shows either produced or distributed by Viacom.
The U.S. campaign will incorporate programming on HIV/AIDS from Viacom's cable networks, including material developed by MTV and BET as part of their ongoing HIV/AIDS initiatives. The New TNN, Nick at Nite, TV Land, VH1, CMT and others will air PSAs appropriate to their audiences and integrate HIV/AIDS awareness messages into existing programming. Through special programming, public service messages and parent resources, Nickelodeon and Noggin will focus on age-appropriate information about the disease. Showtime will broadcast HIV/AIDS-related Showtime Original Pictures and multiple episodes of various Showtime original series on the subject. Showtime will also create additional on-air and online content.
The Kaiser Family Foundation will serve as a resource to Viacom's news organizations, both local and national, on HIV/AIDS. Additionally, Kaiser and Simon & Schuster will produce a free guide on HIV/AIDS, which will provide basic information about the disease, prevention, and testing. There is also a Viacom employee education component to the campaign.
Internationally, the campaign will produce public service messages, targeted to populations in countries where the disease is spreading the fastest. In addition to using its own assets, including MTV Networks International, Viacom Outdoor Europe and Blockbuster, Viacom intends to partner with local broadcasters to increase distribution of material. The international campaign is expected to begin during the 2nd Quarter of 2003.
The company's comprehensive HIV/AIDS effort builds upon current activities within Viacom, including MTV's youth awareness campaign: "Fight for Your Rights: Protect Yourself/Be Safe," which launched in 1997, as well as MTV Networks International's "Staying Alive" and BET's "Rap It Up" awareness campaigns, both of which commenced in 1998. All three of these initiatives are partnerships with the Kaiser Family Foundation. In addition, CBS, UPN, and Infinity have aired PSAs on HIV/AIDS and sexual health, and Showtime and Paramount have long traditions of employee volunteer efforts aimed at combating the disease and have produced original programming and movies on the topic.
Funding for the development of the campaign, including PSAs, is being provided by Viacom, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Mel Karmazin Foundation, and Sumner Redstone.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation is an independent national health philanthropy dedicated to providing information and analysis on health issues to policymakers, the media, and the general public. It is not associated with Kaiser Permanente or Kaiser Industries.