Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Our definition of “power”—as envisioned when we re-branded our Annual Benefit Dinner as the Cable Positive “Power” Awards this year—is more akin to the melding together of the “two great forces of human nature” which Microsoft’s Bill Gates spoke about at Davos earlier this year: self-interest and caring for others. Gates called his new paradigm for power “creative capitalism,” “an approach where governments, businesses and non-profits work together to stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or gain recognition, doing work that eases the world’s inequities.”

Uppermost among those “inequities” is the devastation being caused around the world by diseases like HIV/AIDS—the consequences of which fall disproportionately upon the poor and those without access to proper healthcare, anti-retroviral drugs, or even the most basic information about the virus. That’s why Cable Positive’s “Power Awards” are so imperative. They do what Bill Gates has urged all business leaders to do: to create a new, market-based incentive of recognition, since “recognition enhances a company’s reputation, appeals to customers, and above all, attracts good people to the organization. . .and triggers a market-based reward for good behavior.”

The cable industry began practicing Gates’ brand of “creative capitalism” 16-years ago when Cable Positive was founded, and since then, it is the only industry in the world that has donated more than one billion dollars of pro-bono airtime, and $20 million of cash to fund programs of HIV/AIDS awareness, education and prevention across the United States and around the world.

The three individuals being honored with our first Cable Positive “Power” Awards next week—Michael S. Willner, Vice Chairman & CEO/Insight Communications; Bill Roedy, Vice Chairman MTV Networks; and Dr. Helene Gayle, President & CEO, CARE—did not need any special recognition for what they have done over the last decade and longer in the fight against HIV/AIDS. They have focused the power of their personalities, resources, access, influence and talents in battling this disease, every way they know how. Their diverse backgrounds—as a highly respected cable operator, television programmer, and public health professional—have brought them to the same place of integrating social responsibility into everything they do.

Their work in the domestic cable industry, internationally, and in the daily trenches of HIV/AIDS awareness, education and prevention is what drives Cable Positive’s mission, and is reflected in some of our major accomplishments over the past year. Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Motorola Foundation—the largest single grant in Cable Positive’s history—we are able to develop a Youth AIDS Media Institute, (YAMI), aimed at empowering youth to learn about the disease and make a tangible, positive impact in their communities—and among their peers—in the fight against HIV/AIDS. With one out of every two new HIV infections being among under-25 year olds, the timing of this initiative could not be more urgent.

We’ve used the enormous power of this industry to create, produce and distribute Cable Positive’s first feature-length documentary, Positive Voices: Women and HIV, featuring “ER” star Gloria Reuben and 6 women who are affected, in some way, by HIV/AIDS. The documentary was aired on Showtime Networks on November 30, 2007 for World AIDS Day, and Cable Positive has received hundreds of requests for airing the piece from cable systems, AIDS Service Organizations, community groups, and government agencies.

Through the work of MTV International and Cable Positive, the cable industry is an international supporter of the fight against HIV/AIDS. In 2007, with generous donations from Showtime Networks, Inc. and Carlsen Resources, Inc. Cable Positive launched the One-for-One program, an online matching gifts program that allows supporters to made donations to domestic and international ARV drug programs. This new initiative takes direct aim at the worldwide deficit between the supply and demand of lifesaving medications for those infected by HIV/AIDS.

We recognize that the task ahead of us is a challenging one, both domestically among youth and communities of color, and internationally among the people with the greatest need for treatment and care. It’s the central reason why we have expanded our programs to cover youth most at risk and have established a direct-matching gift program, to get the resources directly to those who need them most. In acknowledging our job ahead, we’ve found powerful new focus for Cable Positive with our “We Have Work To Do” campaign in print, on television and on the internet.

Cable Positive’s new series of 30-second spots – which premiered on networks and cable systems around the country on Worlds AIDS Day 2007, feature the true celebrities in this fight – people who are HIV positive and living with the disease and its many side effects each day. These spots are incredibly hard-hitting and tap a different nerve among viewers, showing them very clearly that HIV/AIDS can and will infect anyone.

In our 16-years as the leading industry-backed, HIV/AIDS education and awareness organization in the country, Cable Positive has earned the confidence of corporate leaders and the trust and cooperation of national and international AIDS organizations on the front lines of this fight. We have grown from a small, grassroots organization, created by a group of cable employees determined to make a difference in their workplaces, their communities and the world, by using every means they had available to shine a bright light on HIV/AIDS, exposing its causes, its devastating impact, its dangers, and the stigma surrounding the disease.

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