Following the successful inaugural year of CHARACTERS UNITE, the community affairs campaign to combat prejudice and discrimination, USA Network is dramatically expanding the initiative in 2010 to include themed original programming, MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor) sponsorship opportunities, more expansive digital content, and grassroots community events. The announcement was made today at The 2010 Cable Show in Los Angeles by Bonnie Hammer, president, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions.
The expansion will include a large-scale CHARACTERS UNITE celebration on and off-air in November 2010, as well as affiliate partnership opportunities. Throughout this newly designated Characters Unite Month, USA, its distributors and partners will shine a spotlight on efforts to fight social injustice and bridge cultural divides with long and short-form programming; extensive digital content including a compelling interactive game; a high school curriculum; and special community events.
“We’re confronted by the consequences of intolerance every day, and the stakes have never been higher,” said Ms. Hammer. “Our goal is to use every means at our disposal, from USA’s national multimedia platforms to market-by-market community outreach, to promote the ideals of diversity, acceptance and respect.”
Beginning this fall, USA will roll out several MVPD components for the campaign. The network is teaming up with New York City’s non-profit storytelling organization, The Moth, to produce “Mainstage” shows in five select markets across the country. Each event will feature local and celebrity storytellers sharing a true tale of overcoming prejudice or discrimination. In conjunction with the Mainstage events and in partnership with MVPDs, USA and The Moth will train high school students in each of the five select markets to tell their own Characters Unite-themed stories. After-school workshops will culminate in an all-school storytelling assembly, in order to start a dialogue about important issues of diversity, tolerance and respect. USA will also create custom school kits for teachers in high schools across the country that will include storytelling activities based on The Moth workshop series.
Other MVPD opportunities include participation in the Characters Unite Award program to honor local heroes working to promote unity, diversity and civil rights in his/her community.
“We are proud to be harnessing the power of all of our platforms and distributors, and look forward to forging new, strategic partnerships to increase the reach and impact of CHARACTERS UNITE,” said Brian Hunt, SVP Marketing & Sales Strategy, TV Networks Distribution, NBC Universal.
As part of the special Characters Unite month, USA Network will unveil a new, original Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign featuring a call to action for viewers to come together to take a stand against bigotry and intolerance. The Network is also focusing on the development of original programming — special episodes of USA original series and/or movies in the spirit of CHARACTERS UNITE. Later this month, USA is holding a special meeting in Washington, DC, that will bring together the CHARACTERS UNITE twenty NGO partners and producers/writers from USA’s original series to discuss relevant topics, themes and messages to be infused into storylines of upcoming new episodes.
Highlights of new Characters Unite campaign elements include:
· Characters Unite-themed storytelling events in five select markets (TBA), in partnership with The Moth
· Moth storytelling workshops and assemblies in high schools in the five select markets
· High school curriculum for schools nationwide
· National and local Characters Unite Awards for individuals making a difference in their communities
· New PSA campaign featuring USA Network stars
· “Characters Unite Showcases” of original and/or acquired themed programming stunts
· Interstitials profiling grassroots heroes fighting prejudice and bigotry
· Interactive and fun Characters Unite game that expands horizons and promotes unity
· Tool to allow people to find volunteer opportunities in their own communities
· Real time news and information on Characters Unite-related issues, leaders and events
· Extended exclusive video
· Mobile apps and expanded social networking features
Characters Unite draws on the legacy of USA’s original “Erase the Hate” campaign of the 1990s. In 2009, the initiative included an award-winning PSA campaign; the launch of charactersunite.com and the online Pledge for Unity; the first annual Characters Unite Award; and the first-ever Characters Unite Town Hall, moderated by NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw in Washington, DC.
The Characters Unite twenty non-governmental partners include the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Parent Teacher Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Council of La Raza, GLAAD, National Council of Women’s Organizations, American Federation of Teachers, Anti-Defamation League, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Asian American Justice Center, Children’s Defense Fund, General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights First, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Association of Counties, National Congress of American Indians, National Education Association and Southern Poverty Law Center.
USA Network is the #1 network in all of basic cable and is seen in over 98.5 million U.S. homes. A division of NBC Universal, USA is the cable television leader in original series and home to the best in blockbuster theatrical films, acquired television series and entertainment events. The award-winning USA website is located at www.usanetwork.com. Characters Welcome.
USA Network is a program service of NBC Universal Cable a division of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.
About The Moth:
The Moth is an acclaimed nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of storytelling; it was founded in New York in 1997 by poet and novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate in New York the feeling of sultry summer evenings on his native St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. Today, The Moth conducts six ongoing programs-The Moth Mainstage, Moth StorySLAMs, MothSHOP Community Program, The Moth on the Road, MothSHOP Corporate, and the annual Moth Ball-and has presented more than three thousand stories told live on stage, and without notes, from people of all walks of life. The Moth Podcast began in 2008 and is now downloaded over one million times each month. The Moth Radio Hour has been licensed to more than two hundred stations across the country since it’s launch in 2009. www.themoth.org
About TV Networks Distribution, NBC Universal TV Networks Distribution, a division of NBC Universal, drives the company’s multichannel video platform distribution, marketing and local ad sales for a top-rated cable portfolio of 16 networks (Bravo, Bravo HD, Chiller, CNBC, CNBC HD+, CNBC World, MSNBC, mun2, Oxygen, SCI FI Channel, SCI FI HD, Sleuth, Telemundo, Universal HD, USA Network and USA HD). Reaching nearly 600 million MVPD subscribers, the division also oversees retransmission consent for NBC and Telemundo owned-and-operated stations; the distribution of the Olympics on cable; and the distribution of On Demand (VOD), Pay-Per-View (PPV), and set-top box interactive features to multichannel video programming distributors.