Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Philanthropic Gift of TV

Two weeks ago, all three major television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) simultaneously broadcast a one-hour commercial-free telethon for cancer research -- Stand Up to Cancer.  While telethons aren't exactly new, what is new is the collaborative effort by all three networks for a single event.  It's been over 10 years since the three shared a broadcast of anything that wasn't precipitated by a disaster.  The event had over 10 million viewers and raised over $100 million.

What strikes me the most about this event is the amount of money raised in such a short window with a relatively small amount of effort put forth by ABC, CBS, and NBC.  This medium reaches millions and millions of people each and every week.  Why, with all the causes and organizations that could stand to benefit from this type of exposure, has it taken so long to convince these networks to donate airtime together?  Shouldn't they do more?  Shouldn't the American people expect them to do more?  And what would be 'enough'?  I'm not sure what kind of monetary giving ABC, CBS, and NBC do, but it seems to me that they are ignoring the most powerful philanthropic gift they may have to give.

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