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Viacom plans multimedia campaign combating AIDS

The Associated Press
Friday October 11, 2002

LOS ANGELES — Viacom Inc. will use its vast media holdings, including the Paramount studio, CBS and MTV, in a global anti-AIDS campaign, the company said Wednesday. 

Working with the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, Viacom plans to distribute AIDS and HIV awareness messages through its TV and radio programming, online properties and in public service announcements. 

In the United States, AIDS story lines and references will be included in TV series including “Frasier,” “Star Trek: Enterprise” and “The District.” Syndicated talk shows and cable channels including BET and Nickelodeon will be part of the campaign, Viacom said. 

Ad placements valued at $120 million have been pledged for 2003, the company said. The U.S. campaign begins Jan. 6, with the international effort expected to start in the second quarter of 2003. 

“HIV/AIDS is killing millions of people young and old all over the world, yet it is 100 percent preventable,” said Viacom chairman and chief executive officer Sumner Redstone. 

His company is joining the fight against the “ignorance, apathy, and inaction that allows the epidemic to spread,” Redstone said in a statement Wednesday. 

An estimated 40 million people worldwide, including more than 1 million in the United States, are infected with AIDS-causing HIV virus, with most new infections among people under age 25. More than 20 million people have died. 

“Global AIDS is the greatest health challenge of our generation and the media can be a powerful tool in educating people about the disease,” the Kaiser foundation’s president, Drew E. Altman, said.