On Monday evening, MTV and the Entertainment & Youth Group brands of ViacomCBS went dark and suspended all programming for eight minutes and 46 seconds across all linear and digital platforms in honor of George Floyd and to support #BlackLives Matter.
The E&Y Group – which includes MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Net, Pop, VH1, TV Land, CMT + Logo – created a powerful spot that aims to be a call-to-action against racial inequality. One of the hopes is for E&Y audiences to get involved and be part of the solution with E&Y partner Color Of Change, an online group that designs campaigns to respond effectively to injustice in the world.
The spot is eight minutes and 46 seconds, which is the amount of time the police officer’s knee was on Floyd’s neck as he pleaded for his life, and it features the words, "I can’t breathe."
In addition to the Monday blackout of eight minutes and 46 seconds and the video, the E&Y group has decided to participate in Blackout Tuesday, which means it will stop all operation in the music and entertainment industry for 24 hours.
See the internal email from Chris McCarthy, president of the Entertainment & Youth Group, below.
The last few weeks have brought to the surface long standing racism, videos of unspeakable behavior and the harsh reality of inequality many in our community deal with on a regular and daily basis. In Minneapolis, the horrifying murder of George Floyd, in Georgia the senseless killing of Ahmaud Arbery, and in Kentucky, the deplorable shooting of Breonna Taylor, to name just a few recent examples.
This is on top of a pandemic which has emphasized the tragic inequalities that disproportionately impact communities of color, especially African American and Latinx communities, in addition to the unjust targeting of Asian Americans.
While I am not a person of color and can never fully understand this experience, I am offended by the systemic racism and want to stand together with our communities of color in the hurt and pain. We must all do our part – discrimination against one of us is discrimination against all of us.
Therefore, as President of our Group, I commit that we will do the following:
1. Use our platforms to shine a light on the realities of racial injustice and call for equality.
This morning, we made the following statements across our brands and platforms.
Black Lives Matter
We stand with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and call for the end of systemic racism. These racist and brutal attacks must end. We call for justice.
2. Amplify the voices of the communities we serve and provide a call to action for change.
Tomorrow, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, we will go dark across our brands and platforms to mark the time in which George Floyd was brutally killed as a tribute to Mr. Floyd and other victims of racism. We will provide a call to action encouraging our audiences to get involved and help be part of the solution with our partner Color of Change.
3. Foster a culture that deeply values and respects diversity and inclusion.
On Tuesday, we are joining Blackout Tuesday, to focus our attention away from work and towards our community. We will not hold any meetings nor conduct any business – rather we will stand in solidarity with our African American colleagues and loved ones across the country.
This is just the beginning and I acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. Over the next few weeks, you will be invited to join us for discussions on ways we can use our brands and platforms to inspire and enact change.