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Lifetime Signs Up to Stop the Violence

For the next phase of its effort to combat domestic violence against women, Lifetime Television will take its case to the streets — and it's starting in New York City's famed Times Square.

Over the next year, some of the electronic signs visible to people and cars passing through the "crossroads of the world" will carry messages saluting individuals and organizations whose actions curb violence against women, one element of the channel's ongoing "Our Lifetime Commitment" campaign.

The messages will run each Friday on electronic billboards and tickers — the space on the vehicles supplied free of charge to Lifetime by various outdoor media firms — and will coincide with similar public service messages appearing on the network that night between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Lauds Bloomberg

Lifetime's first signage-PSA combination was set for April 25, under the auspices of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city's domestic-violence commissioner Yolanda Jimenez, were expected to accept salutes at that time.

Bloomberg and Jimenez joined anti-violence advocates and celebrities at a Times Square press conference a few days earlier, in support of Lifetime's initiative.

The fusion of government, nonprofit organizations and sponsors will insure the campaign will reach a wide audience, according to Lifetime vice president of public affairs Toby Graff.

"When you work with all these different partners, that's how you make the biggest difference on an issue," Graff said.

Thus far, the messages are slated to appear on signs owned by the NASDAQ Stock Market, Reuters, Liz Claiborne Inc., Wrigley's and CNBC. At least 15 nonprofit institutions are involved, including Equality Now, Family Violence Prevention Fund and the National Violence Domestic Hotline. Additional corporate sponsorship and nonprofit participation is being explored.

Avails wanted

Cable operators in other areas will be invited to participate by donating electronic signage availabilities, or by helping Lifetime connect with signage owners in heavily trafficked locations.

"While Times Square is a great place to start because of the traffic" — an estimated 1.5 million people walk around or through the area on a typical day, according to local sources — "we want to expand this to other cities, maybe around the world, as this goes on," Graff added.

She credits Mary Dixon, her fellow vice president in the public-affairs unit, for the idea. "She saw all the signage around Times Square, checked the situation out and found that some of these sign owners will on occasion lend space out to public-service groups," Graff said. "The wrinkle is having them commit to lend for 52 weeks a year."

A coalition of nonprofit reps will advise Lifetime on which individuals to highlight each week. The decision will be reached on Mondays, providing four days to create the appropriate signage copy and the PSAs.

With sponsors picking up the signage costs, the bulk of Lifetime's budget on this endeavor is earmarked for spot production, the details of which were not disclosed.