Cable Positive to Fold Up Its Tent

9/12/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

After a 17-year run, Cable Positive will close its national office and wind down operations by the end of the year, the HIV/AIDS-awareness group announced.

The organization said its board of directors voted to shut its doors given broad industry support for the cause. Meanwhile, Cable Positive had already cancelled its annual fundraising dinner — its biggest source of funds.

“The response of cable-industry companies has grown dramatically, and that work demonstrates that Cable Positive's mission will continue to be perpetuated in significant ways,” Cable Positive chairman Ray Gutierrez said in a statement. “Therefore, we've concluded that a separate organization focused exclusively on HIV/AIDS is no longer required.”

As part of its mission, the organization facilitated the donation of more than $2 billion worth of air time on cable networks for public-service ads about the epidemic. Cable Positive also provided direct assistance to cable-industry employees who had HIV/AIDS, and generated more than $2 million in direct grants from AIDS service organizations across the country.

While the national office in New York is closing, the organization said local chapters will be encouraged to continue their volunteerism and fund-raising under the Cable Positive banner. The national office has five employees, a spokesman said.

Cable Positive local chapter events will proceed as planned, including the Denver chapter's Positively Cable performance at Cable Connection Fall in Denver on Sunday, Oct. 25.

“Cable Positive's track record shows we've achieved and surpassed our goals. Going forward, the industry's ability to address the epidemic is best realized through the vast array of programs and support provided by individual companies within the industry,” said Gutierrez, who is also executive vice president of human resources and administration for CBS/Showtime Networks.

Cable Positive was founded in 1992 by Jeff Bernstein, then working as a cable network executive at Warner Bros., and several industry friends who shared his concern about HIV/AIDS.

In an op-ed last year in Multichannel News, then-CEO Steve Villano said Cable Positive would eliminate its annual dinner in response to cable operators' drive to consolidate industry events. It instead hosted a cocktail reception at The Cable Show in April.

Sean Strub took over as successor to Villano earlier this year. Gutierrez thanked Strub and the rest of the Cable Positive staff, saying in a statement, “Sean particularly deserves our praise and thanks for recently accepting the CEO role to guide us through an important and challenging transformation.”

Cable Positive recognized cable industry leaders in combatting HIV/AIDS with the annual Joel A. Berger Award. Berger was a former publisher of Multichannel News and an early supporter of Cable Positive's work. He died from AIDS-related complications in 1995.

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