Comedy Central Gets Serious About Social Issues

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New York -- Comedy Central last week began a long-term
public service initiative under the umbrella title "Central Issues," in
association with the Ad Council.

The first of five packages of public-service announcements
that are scheduled is "Save the Children," and its PSAs focus on mentoring.

Other campaigns, each one month in duration, will call the
network's young-adult audience's attention to discrimination, the importance of fatherhood
and the risks of having guns in the home.

All of these campaigns will combine existing Ad Council
spots with new "Central Issues" wraparounds and the tag line, "It's up to

The goal is to develop original spots featuring comedy
stars, as well as the network's own on-air talent, perhaps starting later this year,
according to Larry Divney, the network's president and CEO.

Comedy has already sent out feelers to big-name comedians,
spelling out its plans and ways in which they could contribute, said Tony Fox, the
network's senior vice president of corporate communications. In that regard, Fox said,
Comedy's new spots would resemble NBC's "The More You Know" PSAs, which feature
primetime-series stars.

"This initiative is no laughing matter," said
Ruth Wooden, the Ad Council's president, in a prepared statement. Comedy will enable the
Ad Council to "reach one of the most elusive audiences for our messages: the savvy,
young adult."

Besides offering affiliates tagged versions of the PSAs,
Comedy hopes to develop cause-related marketing tie-ins with national advertisers.

Comedy also added a "Central Issues" area to its
Web site, with hyperlinks to related organizations' sites.