Viacom--which owns CBS, UPN, Black Entertainment Television, Nickelodeon, and MTV Networks--and the Kaiser Family Foundation announced Wednesday a multimedia AIDS awareness and education campaign that will begin in January, The New York Times reports. Viacom will donate unsold advertising time on its television and radio stations for AIDS public service announcements. The media company also will include HIV prevention messages in the scripts of many of its television programs and possibly even film projects. UPN's Girlfriends, NBC's Frasier, and CBS's Becker all have agreed to address HIV/AIDS in future episodes. Kaiser will advise Viacom on the development of all its HIV/AIDS content.
Viacom president Mel Karmazin said the company began discussing the campaign about a year ago when BET and MTV had independently launched their own HIV awareness projects. The company plans to donate about $120 million worth of advertising time to the campaign and will spend about $3 million more developing the public service announcements. Kaiser has donated $1 million toward the campaign.
Kaiser president Drew Altman said the campaign is expected to last two years or longer. "The combination of Viacom's creative capabilities and reach and the Kaiser Family Foundation's expertise on HIV and public education will help millions of people learn more about AIDS and how it can be prevented," Altman said. "Global AIDS is the greatest health challenge of our generation, and the media can be a powerful tool in educating people about the disease."