Court TV, AT&T Back Diversity Day

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Courtroom Television Network plans the first of what ithopes will be an annual "Day of Diversity" on Tuesday (Oct. 26), with a live,multimedia broadcast of Opening the Door to Diversity, aimed at gettingmiddle-school students to address issues of tolerance.

The event has wide-ranging support from educators, cableoperators, broadcasters, Internet interests, the Anti-Defamation League and even PresidentClinton, who will appear on the telecast.

Opening the Door to Diversity will be broadcast livefrom the AT&T Broadband & Internet Services National Digital Television Center inLittleton, Colo., with the studio designed as an interactive classroom.

With the help from the AT&T@Home data-over-cableservice, Colorado middle school students will be linked to counterparts from Caesar ChavezMiddle School in Hayward, Calif.; Carey Junior High in Cheyenne, Wyoming; and EberhartElementary School in Chicago.

The event falls under Court TV's two-year-old"Choices and Consequences" initiative designed to make kids aware that a singleact can have life-long consequences.

The program is geared to middle-school-age children, whoare especially impressionable, Court TV president Henry Schleiff said.

The program was in the works before the shootings atColumbine High School in Littleton, Colo., six months ago, he said. But such high-profileacts of high school violence -- as well as the beating death of University of Wyomingstudent Matthew Shepard one year ago -- led AT&T Broadband, under then-CEO Leo J.Hindery Jr., to develop a national education initiative on diversity.

The MSO worked with Court TV and other organizations,including the National Middle School Association, the ADL, Cable in the Classroom and theU.S. Department of Education.

Al Roker of NBC's Today will co-host with CourtTV anchor Catherine Crier. NBC will also distribute Opening the Door to Diversityto its 13 owned-and-operated stations and make it available to network affiliates, eitherlive or on videotape.

ABC Radio Network will distribute the broadcast to all ofits affiliates.

After its live broadcast at noon, Court TV will replay theevent twice Tuesday, once at 7 p.m. and again at 11 p.m. Live chats will follow each ofthe rebroadcasts on the Yahoo! portal, which will direct visitors to www.courttv.com/talk.

Court TV will also air diversity-related dramas anddocumentaries, particularly in primetime. Examples include the movie Passing Glory,produced by Quincy Jones and Magic Johnson, and the documentary Black and Blue:Deldebbio Case.

Schleiff conceded that some recent criticism against themedia is probably fair, but added, "People should understand the power the media hasfor good."

Cable in the Classroom distributed curriculum aids for Openingthe Door to Diversity to about 2,700 middle schools around the country. Students willbe encouraged to call in and send questions or comments via electronic mail during theevent.

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