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Big Three team for cancer benefit

Fund-raising event to air on ABC, CBS, NBC

WASHINGTON — The Big Three broadcasters are teaming for a fund-raising event to benefit cancer research that will air across the three nets in September.

ABC, CBS and NBC will each donate one hour of simultaneous, commercial-free primetime real estate for the Sept. 5 telethon. To unveil details of the collaboration, news anchors Katie Couric, Charles Gibson and Brian Williams were set to appear live on all three network morning shows today. They will also appear on the telethon.

Cancer research has particular resonance for CBS’ Couric, whose husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998.

The broadcast, dubbed “Stand Up to Cancer,” will feature live performances by recording artists, TV and film stars who will, along with the evening news anchors from each of the networks, “deliver information about potentially life-saving cancer research,” according to a news release issued by ABC.

“Cancer touches us all,” Couric said in a statement. “For people struggling with this disease, or those who will be diagnosed, scientific breakthroughs can be a matter of life or death — literally.”

“Everyone in our country has been touched by cancer in some way, shape or form,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of the Disney-ABC Television Group. “The thought that we could, in one hour of television, make a true difference in the fight against this disease was both exciting and inspiring.”

The American Cancer Society expects more than 1.4 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year alone, ABC said. Money raised by the broadcast will be used for a broad array of cancer research and treatments, as opposed to targeting one aspect of the disease. Innovative and less mainstream research will be included, ABC said.

Peacock’s Williams said funds are “desperately needed for an all-out assault on the disease.”

“This is a kind of noble experiment,” ABC’s Gibson said in a statement. “In the long run, there’s a public awareness responsibility here that may be more important than the money.”

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