WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Local radio and TV broadcasters will undertake a national effort to address heroin and prescription drug abuse that is impacting communities across America, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) announced at a press conference on Capitol Hill today. NAB has teamed with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (Partnership), a national nonprofit committed to helping families struggling with their son or daughter’s substance use, on a multi-faceted campaign through the end of 2017 to raise awareness about the rising opioid epidemic.
Driven by abuse of prescription painkillers, opioid addiction has soared in recent years, particularly among teens and young adults. Every day in the U.S., 2,500 youth (12- to 17-year-olds) abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time. An addiction to legally prescribed pain medication has led many people to heroin, a cheaper and more easily available alternative. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 45 percent of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. Deaths from opioid abuse increased 248 percent between 2010 and 2014, with 78 Americans now dying every day from an opioid overdose.
At today’s press conference, NAB highlighted news coverage that local and network radio and TV broadcasters have devoted to bringing awareness to the opioid crisis. In addition to regular news programming, in the past year broadcasters have produced and aired documentaries, in-depth investigations, and town hall forums on the impact of the epidemic on local communities. CBS TV Network, ABC-owned TV stations and iHeartMedia have also carried more than $15 million in Partnership for Drug-Free Kids anti-opioid PSA messaging in the last year, and broadcasters such as NBC, FOX, Univision, Telemundo and hundreds of other local TV and radio stations have devoted enormous resources to this issue.
Representatives of the broadcasting industry who attended the press conference and pledged support for the initiative were: Art Brooks, President, Arizona Broadcasters Association; Rebecca Hanson, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Policy, Sinclair Broadcast Group; Ginny Morris, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Hubbard Radio Group; and Jordan Wertlieb, President of Hearst Television.
Also on hand to show support for the campaign were a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and House members. Speakers included Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
In collaboration with the Partnership, local radio and TV stations are renewing their commitment to help educate the public and aid in the fight against opioid abuse and addiction. NAB announced today that broadcasters will:
"As first informers in times of crisis, broadcasters understand the power of the public airwaves to educate Americans about dangers affecting their lives,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “Today, we are pledging those airwaves and other resources to combating an epidemic that has touched the lives of millions of our citizens. We’re proud to join with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids in finding solutions to opioid addiction, and in making a positive difference for families across America."
"Today's opioid crisis requires an 'all hands on deck' approach to affect change and reverse this public health epidemic," said Marcia Lee Taylor, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. "All of us have a role to play, and we and all of the families we serve are so thankful to the National Association of Broadcasters for playing the very important role of using the airwaves to reach homes and communities, driving awareness and directing parents to life-saving resources for their loved ones."
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. NAB advances radio and television interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.
About Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is committed to helping families struggling with their son or daughter’s substance use. We empower families with information, support and guidance to get the help their loved one needs and deserves. On our website, drugfree.org, and through our toll-free helpline (1-855-DRUGFREE), we provide families with direct support and guidance to help them address teen substance use. Finally, we build healthy communities, advocating for greater understanding and more effective programs to treat the disease of addiction.