Cable Expands Role for World AIDS Day

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New York -- A combined 450 cable networks and operators
will participate in World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, up from 300 a year ago, Molly Padian,
executive director for Cable Positive, said at a press briefing here last week.

Cable Positive's press kit listed 67 networks and 351
operators signed as of Oct. 19.

Their participation will include running original and
repeat programming and public-service announcements plus other initiatives -- such as
employee education -- all designed to boost awareness of AIDS and HIV, especially among
young people ages 13 to 24, she said.

Cable Positive, the cable industry's nonprofit AIDS
action group, also has produced a dozen public service spots for the campaign, themed
"Be A Force For Change," and patterned after The Gap's contemporary,
youth-oriented commercials, Padian said.

One, entitled "Everybody," will be roadblocked on
participating cable networks on Dec. 1 at 8 p.m., she said. An actress in that spot says,
"It's as easy as ever to get HIV … When you're protecting yourself,
you're protecting everybody."

One unusual PSA, created by the Kaleidoscope network, uses
American Sign Language.

Padian said six MSOs -- Century Communications Corp.,
Falcon Cable Corp., Harron Communications Corp., Intermedia Partners, Jones Intercable
Inc. and Tele-Communications Inc. – will show the PSAs across their entire subscriber
base.

Also on the operator side, Padian said that Century will
present "AIDS Watch" as a 24-hour memorial in which the names of about 28,000
people who have died from the virus will be listed, while TCI's San Francisco system
will distribute a guide to HIV/AIDS service groups in that market.

Spokespersons for four networks outlined their original
programming plans for Dec. 1:

  • The Disney Channel will run Friends for Life: Living with
    AIDS
    as a documentary about children who have the disease.
  • Black Entertainment Television plans a Teen Summit on
    the topic of AIDS.
  • Lifetime Television will run a two-part movie, Touch Me
    (on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1).
  • MTV: Music Television plans PSAs plus specials like Staying
    Alive
    and True Life: This Could Be You, each profiling young people coping with
    AIDS/HIV.

In addition, Cable Positive has named Steve Kmetko,
coanchor on E! Entertainment Television's E! News Daily, John Norris, an MTV
News correspondent and Peta Wilson, star of USA Network's La FemmeNikita,
as celebrity spokespersons for the campaign.

As Norris and Kmetko emphasized at the press briefing,
increasing awareness among the young is more crucial now because many have been misled
into believing that improved drug treatments mean that AIDS has been cured. That this is
not true is also one of the messages in Linda Ellerbee's Take a Minute
vignettes that Lifetime has scheduled.

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