Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Viacom Networks Go Off-Air For 17 Minutes In Solidarity With Students Taking Part In National School Walkout Day

North America - Viacom cable networks today, Wednesday, March 14, suspended regular programming in support of a national student walkout over gun violence.


One month after 17 students and faculty members were killed at a Florida high school, Nickelodeon went off the air for 17 minutes to honor the lives lost. (Photo: Dan Ward via Toons Fan)

Viacom's networks, including Nickelodeon, MTV, BET and Comedy Central, suspended regular programming by going dark for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. in every time zone in support of National School Walkout day, a month to the day that 17 students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were murdered by a gunman with a semiautomatic rifle.

Today’s nationwide walk-out kicked off with students in Eastern time zones leaving their classrooms at 10 a.m., and the wave of walk-outs followed the sun as 10 a.m. hit an estimated 3,000 schools across the nation. In Colorado, Columbine High School students staged their walk-out and observed 30 seconds of silence – one second for each of the dead at Parkland and their own school – sometime around mid-day.

In Washington D.C., thousands had gathered outside the White House and on Capitol Hill by late morning, with MSNBC cameras capturing moments like students swarming Bernie Sanders as he spoke through a bullhorn. Elizabeth Warren visited earlier, and other politicians will no doubt drop by as the day goes on.

“Viacom stands with all students as they participate in the national school walkout against gun violence,” read the stark, white-letters-on-black-background message that took the place of regular programming on Comedy Central, VH-1, MTV, BET, Logo, TV Land and other Viacom channels.

As Nickelodeon caters for a younger audience, the network displayed a more kid-friendly message: "In support of kids leading the way today, Nickelodeon will be off the air until 17 minutes past the hour."

“The next 17 minutes are dedicated to young people who are leading the fight against gun violence,” read a message on MTV before flashing photos of those who died in the Parkland shooting, whilst a live Periscope broadcast profiling some teens and young adults who were moved to act against gun violence was broadcast on the networks Twitter feed.


On a Viacom company blog, the company posted an explanation for its 17-minute black-out – one minute for each of the slain Parkland students – that reads, in part:

"Viacom and its brands have a long history of supporting young people’s movements around the world, and today the company is extending that tradition by leveraging its substantial multi-platform footprint to support these extraordinary individuals and amplify the reach and impact of their activism.

This series of efforts across MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Comedy Central, TV Land, CMT and other properties will include partnerships with a coalition of organizations and students that are working to make America’s schools safer and reduce gun violence."

Viacom’s efforts also include a $500,000 donation from Shari Redstone, Vice Chair of Viacom’s Board, to the March For Our Lives movement. Viacom also plans to devote extensive on-air and digital coverage of the March 24 March For Our Lives demonstration in Washington, D.C., like having MTV and Comedy Central change the color of their logos to orange (for gun violence awareness) for the 10 days prior to the march, which organizers say they are expecting more than 500,000 attendees. BET (Black Entertainment Television) will be offering grants for youth activists who have “innovative ideas about addressing gun violence and mental health issues," while CMT plans to work with the country music industry to fight for gun safety.

Programs and Viacom channels planning special or continued coverage leading up to the march include The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper, Paramount Network and Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards, which airs March 24 and is expected to acknowledge the march in some way. Viacom also says The Daily Show with Trevor Noah "plans to continue its ongoing coverage of the growing anti-gun violence movement in the country."

Students are also taking over MTV’s social media accounts, including Twitter and Facebook, during the walkout.

“This generation continues to be the driving force for change,” said Marva Smalls, Viacom's Executive Vice President (EVP) of Global Inclusion. “With more than 17 young people dying from gun violence every single day, unfortunately, no community is safe.

"We believe it’s critical to support the inspiring efforts of our youth, who are literally fighting for their lives," Smalls continued. "Viacom also has a responsibility to our audiences to do everything we can to elevate the many brave and bold activists to help them extend the reach and impact of their voices in this important movement.”


Though some school districts reportedly have pledged disciplinary action against walking students, thousands of students participated in the protest with official blessing, including many students interviewed by MSNBC reporters as they walked. (Fox News Channel wasn’t covering, at least on a continuous or extensive basis; CNN had stopped covering non-stop by 11:30 a.m. ET).

Update: The National School Walkout was organized by the Women's March, and around 185,000 people across the country took part in it, alongside around 3,100 schools. The walkout is meant as a symbol to Congress about their inaction when it comes to gun violence that is becoming more prevalent in schools.

Below is a sampling of the initiatives that Viacom brands have planned for the weeks ahead in support of the courageous youth activists who have had enough of gun violence, via the official Viacom Blog:

Viacom to Support Courageous Youth Activists Who Have Had Enough of Gun Violence



February 27, 2018 – Parkland, Florida, United States: Volunteers hang banners, including this one reading “Stay strong, Stoneman Douglas, we’re with you,” around the perimeter of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school to welcome back students who returned to school on Feb. 28, two weeks after the mass shooting that killed 17 students and staff. (Susan Stocker/SF Sun Sentinel/Polaris)

In the weeks since a gunman claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, courageous young people have marched and raised their voices to demand action on gun violence in the United States.

Viacom and its brands have a long history of supporting young people’s movements around the world, and today the company is extending that tradition by leveraging its substantial multi-platform footprint to support these extraordinary individuals and amplify the reach and impact of their activism.

This series of efforts across MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Comedy Central, TV Land, CMT and other properties will include partnerships with a coalition of organizations and students that are working to make America’s schools safer and reduce gun violence.

In addition, Shari Redstone, Vice Chair of Viacom’s Board, is personally championing the work of the student activists, contributing time and resources, including a $500,000 donation, to the March For Our Lives movement.

“This generation continues to be the driving force for change,” said Viacom Executive Vice President of Global Inclusion Marva Smalls. “With more than 17 young people dying from gun violence every single day, unfortunately no community is safe. We believe it’s critical to support the inspiring efforts of our youth, who are literally fighting for their lives. Viacom also has a responsibility to our audiences to do everything we can to elevate the many brave and bold activists to help them extend the reach and impact of their voices in this important movement.”

Here’s a sampling of the initiatives that Viacom brands have planned for the weeks ahead:

A pause to remember the victims

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, all Viacom networks and platforms will suspend regularly scheduled programming for 17 minutes. This pause will coincide with the National School Walkout, a tribute to the 17 lives lost in the Parkland shooting, and to all young victims of gun violence. Students across the country will take over MTV’s social media accounts during the walkout.

The power of Viacom’s united brands support a march on Washington

Viacom’s brands will drive awareness of March For Our Lives through extensive on-air and digital coverage, as well as on-the-ground initiatives, leading up to the March For Our Lives demonstration in Washington, D.C. on March 24. MTV and Comedy Central will change the color of their logos to orange – in support of gun violence awareness – for the 10 days leading up to the event. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah plans to continue its ongoing coverage of the growing anti-gun violence movement in the country. So will The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper, which will build on its recent interviews with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as well as educators and former military officials on arming teachers, and the 2017 special he produced, Jordan Klepper Solves Guns. Paramount Network will capture powerful first-person accounts for its pro-social initiative. Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards, which airs that night, will acknowledge the march for its audience of millions.


Supporting efforts to reduce gun violence

Viacom networks have begun an array of ongoing initiatives aimed at curbing gun violence over the long term. For example, MTV has set up a website where people can learn how to take further action, BET will award DISARM pop-up grants to youth activists with innovative ideas about addressing gun violence and mental health issues, and CMT will work with the country music industry on its efforts to support gun safety.

Joining gun safety leaders to drive change

Viacom is partnering with organizations across the spectrum to develop gun safety-related projects for Viacommunity Day, Viacom’s annual day of community service, on April 20.

Get Schooled expands its curriculum

Get Schooled, an organization founded through a partnership between Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will expand its efforts to educate young people on the actions they can take to participate in the national discussion.

*On average, 19.4 young people aged 24 and under die by gun violence every day. Source – Everytown analysis: CDC Fatal Injury Reports (WISQARS), data for 2012-2016.

--Ends--

Update: Viacom's decision to suspend programming on Nickelodeon in solidarity with students taking part in National School Walkout Day has drawn wide praise online from supporters of the students:
















Sources: The Hill, Deadline, The Wrap, TV Guide, Los Angeles Times, AJC.com, ComicBook, Island Packet.

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