Friday, September 26, 2008

Bigger than the Financial Crisis

By Steve Villano

Cable Positive went to Capitol Hill this week to deal with a crisis of monumental proportions with a growing impact in the United States and around the world.

No, not the financial crisis, which brought waves of lobbyists, politicians, and media representatives to Washington all week-long. While public officials and financiers were focused on saving people’s homes, 401 K plans, bank savings and jobs, Cable Positive came to Congress to save people’s lives.

While The Treasury Department and Bush Administration officials lobbied members of Congress hard for a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street, Cable Positive, a few elected officials, AIDS activists, and Cable industry leaders from Motorola, Time Warner Cable, Discovery, CTAM & TV One, gathered to share information and ideas on the crisis wiping out our children and our communities of color in the US and globally—HIV/AIDS.

Sponsored by Cable Positive and Congresswoman Diane E. Watson (D-CA) who heads the Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus, a conference on “Youth, AIDS & Media: Multi-Platform Advocacy in a New Era of Prevention,” put the spotlight on the crucial role television, the internet and cell phones can have in educating our young people about HIV/AIDS, particularly since 8-18 year olds spend one-third of each day, engaged with some form of media.

“Young people are watching and sharing more content on their computers and mobile devices and actively engaging their peers through them, than ever before,” said Dan Brenner, long-time Cable Positive Board Member and SVP, Law & Regulatory Policy at NCTA, who was the conference’s keynoter. Brenner underscored the enormous pro-bono and financial contributions of the Cable industry in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and singled out Motorola for special recognition of a $200,000 grant from the Motorola Foundation which enabled Cable Positive to create our Youth AIDS Media Institute (YAMI).

The Congressional conference was the first of many that Cable Positive will hold around the country to bring more attention and resources to how the HIV/AIDS crisis is crippling entire communities, and what the entertainment industry is doing about it—particularly the cable telecommunications industry through the work of Cable Positive.

“I think it’s our continued responsibility as part of this entertainment community to continue to fight against HIV/AIDS,” said Congresswoman Watson. The cable industry and Cable Positive couldn’t agree with her more.

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