Global Media Leaders Expand Response To United Nations’ Call To Fight HIV/AIDS
International media executives on Tuesday pledged to use their "creative and broadcasting might" to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic at the second annual meeting of the Global Media AIDS Initiative in Cannes, France, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/12). GMAI was established by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in January 2004 at a media leaders meeting and conceived of and organized by UNAIDS and the Kaiser Family Foundation (Joint release, 4/12). Meeting attendees included executives from television outlets across Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Europe and North America, and the meeting marked a "major step forward in energizing" the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to AFP/Yahoo! News (AFP/Yahoo! News, 3/12). "As you know, this terrible epidemic shows no signs of abating," Annan said in a video message to the meeting, adding that "the web of silence that surrounds it can be just as potent a killer." He continued, "That is where all of you come in. As media leaders, you have the chance to do something few of us can -- you can save lives by attacking ignorance in every corner of the planet" (U.N. release, 4/12).
Tuesday's meeting also focused on the next stage of GMAI's development, including the initiative's plans to increase membership and industry leadership and "significantly" expand the scope of its activities, the U.N. News Service reports (U.N. News Service, 4/12). "Last year we were feeling our way, but now I have the sense that we are on the road to share experiences and awareness of what is happening," U.N. Undersecretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor, who chaired the meeting, said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/12). Annan also appointed MTV President Bill Roedy as chair of the GMAI Leadership Committee, which will include media executives from each region of the world who will be named in the "coming weeks," according to the U.N. News Service. The committee will collaborate on GMAI's aims and priorities while local media executives continue to develop their own programs. Roedy in 18 months will report to Annan on GMAI's progress (U.N. News Service, 4/12). Meeting attendees also announced that they aim to design a "new look" for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 to "give it more punch, particularly to younger audiences," according to AFP/Yahoo! News. "We need new and more creative messages that can be adapted to the current situation in AIDS," European Broadcasting Union Secretary-General Jean Reveillon said. The new messages will be provided to broadcasters worldwide at no cost (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/12).
Former U.S. President Clinton, who spoke to the meeting by satellite from U.N. headquarters in New York, "urg[ed]" the media leaders to do more to combat HIV/AIDS stigma, increase their support of education and prevention initiatives and generate financial commitments from donor countries, according to the U.N. News Service. "One of our main goals has been to build wider recognition of the importance of media in the fight against HIV/AIDS, which the GMAI has helped to accomplish," Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman said, adding, "The challenge now is to sustain progress towards mobilizing media on a global scale" (U.N. News Service, 4/12). Roedy said, "The media have the tremendous ability to help fight the epidemic -- not only in increasing awareness and prevention, but also in removing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS," adding, "So much more should be done and can be done" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/12).