Press Releases

    13 April 2005

    Media Leaders from Around Globe Expand Response to UN’s Call to Fight AIDS Epidemic

    MTV Networks’ Bill Roedy to Chair Global Media AIDS Initiative Leadership Committee

    (Received from a UN Information Officer.)

    CANNES, France, 12 April -- Today, at the invitation of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, top executives from leading media companies from around the world gathered in Cannes, France, to expand the media industry’s commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS.  This meeting, the second such meeting of media leaders for the Global Media AIDS Initiative (GMAI), identified the next stage of its development, with increased membership, new industry leadership and plans to broaden the scope of its activities significantly.

    The Secretary-General, in his remarks this morning, told the media leaders that “you have the chance to do something few of us can -- you can save lives by attacking ignorance in every corner of the planet”.  He said it was encouraging to see so many of them gathered to “use the power of the media in the fight against [HIV/AIDS]”.

    President William J. Clinton, former President of the United States, spoke to the group by satellite from United Nations Headquarters in New York.  “AIDS is the most frustrating disease I've ever dealt with”, he remarked.  “It is totally preventable” yet 40 million people are infected and millions die.  One in every sixth AIDS death is a child, he observed, yet children rarely get the medicine they need.  “We know what to do”, President Clinton continued, urging the media leaders to make a difference by doing more to remove the stigma of AIDS, as well as on education, prevention and generating support in donor countries to make resources available.

    The Secretary-General also asked Bill Roedy, Vice-Chairman, MTV Networks and President, MTV Networks International, to lead the Initiative’s Leadership Committee.  This group will be comprised of media executives representing each of the world’s regions to be appointed in the coming weeks.  The group will collaborate on the overall vision and priorities of the Global Media AIDS Initiative, while regional and local media leaders will continue to drive their own initiatives.  In 18 months, Roedy will report to the Secretary-General on the results achieved by the GMAI.

    Bill Roedy commented:  “On behalf of Viacom and MTV Networks, I am honoured to take on this leadership role and look forward to showing that our industry can make a real difference in addressing the defining moral issue of our time.  The media have not done enough to fight this epidemic, and I will be challenging industry leaders everywhere to step up our efforts by using our airwaves, our creativity and our influence in our communities. The media have the tremendous ability to help fight the epidemic -- not only in increasing awareness and prevention, but also in removing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS”, he said.

    With nearly 5 million new infections last year, Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, urged the media leaders to give audiences new, challenging messages.  “Increasingly, it is women and young people who are affected.  We need to put them at the heart of the AIDS response if we are to stop the epidemic”, he said.

    “One of our main goals has been to build wider recognition of the importance of media in the fight against HIV/AIDS, which the GMAI has helped to accomplish.  The challenge now is to sustain progress towards mobilizing media on a global scale”, said Drew E. Altman, President and CEO, Kaiser Family Foundation.

    Executives attending today’s meeting reported back on many of the efforts undertaken by media around the world since the first gathering, as well as highlighted expanded commitments.  New activities are being planned in the regions with the highest infection rates, including Asia and Africa.  In addition, industry leaders outlined plans to engage the 20 priority broadcasters in high epidemic areas to commit airtime to the issue.  New international awards for HIV/AIDS content and a festival for public service programming were also proposed.

    Among the notable accomplishments of the last year by members of the GMAI:

    --Regional and national-level media leadership summits on HIV/AIDS in Moscow and New Delhi;

    -- The launch of major new coordinated public education campaigns in Russia by Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS (STOPSPID) and in India by the Heroes Project (additional details on both activities are provided in the press packets);

    -- The first global creative meeting, attended by 100 creative people from 35 companies.  Organized in November 2004 at the United Nations jointly by MTV Networks International, Viacom, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the International Academy of Arts & Sciences, to promote more HIV-messaging in entertainment programming;

    -- A comprehensive assessment of media campaigns by the BBC World Service Trust to inform the availability of rights-free programming database;

    -- Ongoing extensive commitments by MTV Networks and Black Entertainment Television, as part of Viacom’s KNOW HIV/AIDS campaign -- a three-year, $600 million global effort on HIV/AIDS with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

    The Global Media AIDS Initiative was established by the Secretary-General in January 2004 at a special meeting of media leaders held at United Nations Headquarters in New York.  It was conceived of and organized by the Joint United Nations Programme of HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Kaiser Family Foundation.  Today’s meeting, held at MIP TV, an industry gathering, was chaired by Shashi Tharoor, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

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