Viacom HIV/AIDS efforts earn global honor

High-profile event included speech by Schroeder

BERLIN — Viacom was honored in Berlin on Wednesday for its work in helping to combat HIV/AIDS at the Global Business Coalition’s annual Awards for Business Excellence.

Accepting the award, Imara Jones, director of Viacom’s Initiative on HIV/AIDS, said it was fitting that the event was held in Berlin as the campaign “is all about breaking down walls and creating hope.”

High-profile event included a keynote speech by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, addresses from U2 singer Bono and U.S. global AIDS coordinator Randall Tobias, as well as a performance by Dionne Warwick.

Viacom’s Know HIV/AIDS initiative was launched last year with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, following a long tradition of involvement in the battle against the disease by MTV.

“Young people are affected more than any other group by the disease,” Bill Roady, prexy of MTV Networks Intl. and former GBC chairman, told Daily Variety. “They’re our target audience. MTV reaches a billion people worldwide. It’s not an option. It’s in the network’s interest to help spread knowledge and information.” As part of Viacom’s worldwide HIV/AIDS initiative, which the company values at $300 million in airtime cost to date, public service messages are broadcast on all of its TV and radio outlets. Company has also included AIDS-related themes in 20 TV series, including “Frasier” and “Star Trek: Enterprise,” seen by more than 85 million viewers worldwide.

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