International Net Boosts Breast-Cancer Awareness

The International Channel late last month started to ship affiliate promotional materials for its yearly multilingual breast-cancer-awareness campaign, now in its third year.

The public-affairs promotion, Sharing Hope: Facing Breast Cancer, is aimed at women who don't speak or read English and thus aren't always reached by high-profile breast awareness campaigns from such networks as Lifetime Television.

International Channel will provide participating affiliates with breast self-examination brochures produced in more than a dozen languages by the American Cancer Society's St. Paul, Minn., chapter.

It will also provide VHS tapes of a series on breast cancer that addresses how cultural identities affect women's attitudes towards the disease. In addition to English, the tapes are available in Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Vietnamese.

"Women from other cultures around the world are frequently not encouraged to take care of their own health," International Channel Networks vice president of marketing and communications Jim Honiotes said.

In many cultures, he noted, there are taboos against receiving examinations from health-care professionals and in some cases, even against self-examinations.

"Women have to understand they have to overcome cultural objections in order to save their lives and have more time with their families," he said.

Though the U.S. has a history of allowing immigrants to protect the traditions they've become accustomed to, Honiotes said, "in this case, it's one of the few times when it's life threatening."

The International Channel expects most of its affiliates will run the public affairs campaign in October, to coincide with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But operators are free to use the promotional materials at other times for related events.

Affiliates are also encouraged to donate the Sharing Hope tapes to local hospitals and doctor's offices, and to co-brand International Channel-furnished promotional material to help promote local events such as health fairs and walk-a-thons.

Last October, Time Warner Cable of Bergen and Hudson Counties in New Jersey tied the Sharing Hope campaign into a local "walk for awareness" and wellness fair in Englewood, said spokeswoman Lorraine Riordan-Mooney.

The International Channel supplied bottled water and breast self-examination cards in several languages for the Englewood event, and supplied on-air promotional spots in various tongues.

Riordan-Mooney said the system serves a large, multi-cultural community. It has carried the International Channel on analog for the past two and a half years.

Staten Island (N.Y.) Cable last October aired the Sharing Hope series in English, Spanish and Korean on its local-origination channel, even though it was not yet an International Channel affiliate.

Local Hispanic and Korean groups were pleased with the programming, Staten Island Cable education and community affairs coordinator Karen La Cava said. Last October, about 200 more women came forward for low-cost breast cancer screenings on Staten Island than is typical, she added.

The operator "absolutely" plans to run another breast-cancer-awareness campaign again this year, La Cava said. "It really was a very valuable partnership for us."

Staten Island Cable has since added the International Channel to its digital-cable lineup.

Last year, about 30 affiliates participated in the Sharing Hope campaign. Carriage for International Channel is approaching 10 million households.