Cable Positive’s Success is Everlasting

On Wednesday came news that Cable Positive, the cable industry’s AIDS awareness organization was going to shut down operations after 17 years. 

For three of those years, I had the great privilege of handling public relations for the organization along with my colleague Paul Schneider.  Cable Positive was a casebook example of the proper way to run an awareness campaign that involved an entire industry.  From CEOs of networks, to local cable operators and cable network employees, Cable Positive worked tirelessly to spread awareness for AIDS Awareness. All facets of the program were integrated and the message was simple, use the communications platform of the cable television industry to promote HIV/AIDS Awareness.

In the end, Cable Positive achieved its mission.  Cable Positive chairman Ray Guiterrez addressed this in a story in Multichannel News announcing the closing.

“The response of cable industry companies has grown dramatically, and that work demonstrates that Cable Positive’s mission will continue to be perpetuated in significant ways,” Cable Positive chairman Ray Gutierrez said in a statement. “Therefore we’ve concluded that a separate organization focused exclusively on HIV/AIDS is no longer required.”

Cable Positive’s outreach included the staging of AIDS awareness seminars at workplaces, free AIDS tests, a grant program for operators and cable systems, the creation of PSAs for airing on cable networks and the tremendous programming initiative each year on World AIDS Day (December 1) to get networks to air AIDS-related programming and PSA’s.

According to figures in the Multichannel News story, more than $2 billion worth of air time was donated for public-service ads. Cable Positive also provided direct assistance to cable industry employees who had HIV/AIDS, and generated more than $2 million in direct grants from AIDS service organizations across the country.

Molly McAuliffe was Cable Positive’s Executive Director from 1994-2000 and my client. She became a dear friend.  Molly was a real go-getter who twisted the arms of some of the biggest names in cable television to get them to pony up funds, set up testing and fund grant programs to benefit the cause.

I caught up with Molly to get her reaction to the closing of Cable Positive.

What was your reaction to the closing of Cable Positive?

“I was truly saddened at the news but also proud that there is no longer a need for Cable Positive to exist.”

Cable Positive was truly a galvanizing force for good, was it not?

“There’s no question, Cable Positive is a living testament to how an industry can work together to “do good things” by integrating cause-marketing and corporate responsibility into every aspect of its business.”

What do you say to those who helped pave the way for Cable Positive?

 “Congratulations are in order to the founders such as Jeff Bernstein and the late Joel Berger, who helped galvanize an entire industry to unite behind the HIV/AIDS.  Together, we were able to create a broad range of programs that not only educated the general public about HIV/AIDS, but also the employees of cable networks, cable operators and other cable-affiliated industries.”

The Multichannel News story quoted Bernstein:

“Cable Positive has succeeded far beyond what anyone could have imagined at its founding, establishing the cable industry as a leader in the private-sector response to the epidemic,” Jeff Bernstein, who helped form the organization in 1992, said in a statement. “I’ve had great pride in seeing an industry I love become a pioneering leader in the business community’s role in the fight against AIDS.”

In the end, Cable Positive may have been one of the most successful entities ever of its kind, unifying an industry behind a cause for the good of the public’s good and its own employees. 

 “I was honored to represent the cable industry and treasure the six years that I spent at Cable Positive, “said McAuliffe. “ I wish to extend my congratulations to all the volunteers, board members, Honorary Chairs, and former employees who made Cable Positive a leader in HIV/AIDS education.  Their efforts truly helped saved lives.”

 Tom Cosentino


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