Net forms common bond among advocacy groups

Showman of the Year 2012: A+E Networks - Lifetime

A close-knit group of Army wives, a spunky plus-size lawyer and a “generous” massage therapist. These characters, all found on Lifetime series, seemingly have nothing in common. And yet somehow the net has made them all the same thing — advocates.

Lifetime has been a pioneer in its public affair efforts, using original programming and its femme-centric status as a platform for a number of social issues that directly affect women, including electoral representation and breast cancer awareness.

Danielle Carrig, topper of net’s public advocacy and affairs, says the division “looks at our programming coming down the pipes at any given time, (to see) what are we doing on air that needs more voice and more activation.”

Net has also taken its advocacy beyond PSAs and national petitions, using its visibility to help bring attention to bipartisan federal legislation related to issues highlighted in its shows and movies. Victories include the Justice for All Act of 2004, which eliminated the backlog of untested DNA kits and help put thousands of rapists behind bars, Video Voyeurism Protection Act of 2004 and three others.

Though Lifetime has recently struggled to bring together Republicans and Democrats, it has had no problem merging entertainment with politics, specifically with its national election campaign “Your Life. Your Time. Your Vote,” launched in 1992 to motivate women to vote and run for office.

“We rank 90th in the world in women’s elected representation, behind countries like Afghanistan and Cuba. We only have six women governors in the whole country out of 50,” Carrig says. “This is the country’s only nonpartisan women’s effort around the election. It’s not about politics, it’s about engaging women and making sure their voices are heard.”

The campaign will include appearances in both parties’ conventions and an on-air campaign that brings together Washington, D.C., women with the cabler’s actresses. There’s even an election party kit that includes an electoral college map and martini shakers.

Washington, D.C., is no stranger to Lifetime. The net screened its film “Five” — a collection of shorts directed by different women about breast cancer — about the disease. Net also had Dr. Jill Biden play herself on an episode “Army Wives” to help bring awareness to military family support.

“As a media company it’s our duty to leverage this great power we have in media and do something good with that,” Carrig says. “I think we really help set the agenda and showed the way to the rest of the industry how it can be done and the difference it can make in the lives of our audience across the country and the world.”