Paying tribute to the American spirit in the wake of last year's terrorist attacks, nearly three dozen cable networks will simultaneously run a 30-second public service announcement the evening of Sept. 11.
But many other networks — citing potential scheduling conflicts and content issues — are still on the fence about the spot, which will feature photographs of American life a year after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association-commissioned PSA will air at 8 p.m. EDT that night, reflecting a collaboration by representatives from a variety of cable networks and MSOs.
The ad's creative, produced by the Lifetime Television creative-services unit and funded by the NCTA, will feature still photographs "depicting life after 9/11 in an America that has become stronger, safer and more united," said NCTA vice president of public affairs Jim Ewalt. The 30-second PSA will have music, but no voice narration.
"Our goal is to provide the cable television industry an opportunity to speak with one voice in tribute to the victims and heroes of the events of last Sept. 11," added Ewalt.
After its industry-wide airing, the spot will be made available to both programmers and operators for a yet-to-be-specified period. Services committed to running the spot are: ABC Family, American Movie Classics, Animal Planet, Bloomberg Television, Bravo, Comedy Central, Court TV, Discovery Channel, Discovery Health, FX, Game Show Network, Hallmark Channel, Independent Film Channel, International Channel Networks, Lifetime Movie Network, Lifetime Real Women, Lifetime Television, MetroChannels, Muchmusic USA, National Geographic Channel, News 12 Networks, The Outdoor Channel, Ovation, Speed Channel, TBS Superstation, TNN: The National Network, The Learning Channel, Turner Network Television, Travel Channel, Turner South, TV Land, USA Network, WE: Women's Entertainment, The Weather Channel, and Wisdom Television.
The NCTA is talking to other networks about airing the spot, which the organization hopes will also air across cable networks at 8 p.m. PDT for West Coast viewers.
Ewalt said that while no channel has refused to air the spot, some network executives have expressed reservations that the generic PSA would not be appropriate for their respective target audiences, or may conflict with scheduled programming such as live sports events.
The spot will be the only ad running on Discovery Networks. U.S.'s stable of services and National Geographic Channel that day, as both programmers said they'll forgo commercials on Sept. 11.
Game Show Network will go dark for 30 minutes beginning at 8:30 a.m. that day, while the A&E Networks will interrupt regular fare and go to black from 8:46 a.m. — the time the first hijacked airplane struck the World Trade Center — until 10:30 a.m.
Instead, A&E channels will scroll the names of the victims who lost their lives in the airplane attacks.
The Scripps Networks properties will also go dark for 90 minutes beginning at 8:30 a.m., while FamilyNet Television will eliminate programming from 9 a.m to noon and from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.