WASHINGTON, D.C. -- This morning, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids held a press conference to announce local radio and TV broadcasters will undertake a national effort to address heroin and prescription drug abuse that is impacting communities across America. NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids President and CEO Marcia Lee Taylor spoke at the event.
Below are Gordon Smith's remarks as prepared for delivery:
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Good Morning everyone, I'm Gordon Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.
Thank you all for joining us for this important announcement.
I happen to believe that at the heart of every broadcaster is an ethic and ethos of public service. We see that every time there’s a tornado, or hurricane, or wildfire. Broadcasters routinely put aside competitive differences to keep citizens informed, to save lives, and to galvanize relief efforts after a natural disaster.
Indeed, local radio and TV stations are a lifeline in times of crisis. And today, America faces a public health crisis that is ravaging communities across the country. I’m referencing the surge in prescription drugs and heroin abuse that has led to death and despair for too many families. The statistics are truly alarming: More Americans are dying from heroin and prescription drug overdoses today than from car crashes or gun violence.
There's not a city or state untouched by this crisis. The fact that Congress recently passed the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act is a sign of the seriousness of the challenge.
We’re here to do something about it.
NAB is proud to announce the launch of a partnership through December 2017 between broadcasters and the Partnership for Drug Free Kids to address the opioid addiction crisis. Broadcasters have done a remarkable job shining a spotlight on this crisis.
So before we introduce a few guests, let's watch a short video of our coverage.
That's just a snapshot of radio/TV reporting on the heroin crisis. I want to give a special salute to Art Brooks, head of the Arizona Broadcasters Assn., who will speak in a few minutes.
Last January, Art spearheaded an effort to produce a commercial-free documentary "Hooked: Tracking Heroin's Hold on Arizona." The documentary was simulcast on all of Arizona’s 33 TV stations and 93 radio stations.
The program was seen and heard by more than 1 million Arizonans. It won multiple awards -- including a duPont-Columbia Award. It inspired countless viewers and listeners to take action.
I also want to acknowledge CBS, ABC and iHeartMedia. In the last year, these three companies carried public service announcements valued at more than $15 million from Partnership for Drug Free Kids.
And we know that NBC, FOX, Univision, Telemundo and hundreds of other local TV and radio stations have devoted enormous resources to this story.
These efforts make a difference and can save lives. Today, we commit ourselves to making an even bigger difference.
Over the next year, our broadcasters will carry even more Partnership for Drug Free Kids PSAs. NAB is also sending tool kits to TV and radio stations with creative ideas beyond PSAs. There will be longer form programming, on-line and digital messaging, and town-hall forums to address opioid addiction.
The bottom line is this: This country is confronted with a prescription drug and heroin addiction crisis that is a matter of national emergency. As broadcasters, we will use our collective megaphones to galvanize community outreach, support, treatment and recovery.
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Below are Marcia Lee Taylor's remarks as prepared for delivery:
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Thank you, Gordon, and thanks to everyone here today. This a a great day for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
We at the Partnership have always had great support from broadcasters. Today, we join with the NAB and broadcasters across America on a great cause: to turn the tide on opioid and heroin addiction that is destroying so many families.
Prescription and heroin addiction knows no bounds; this is a crisis impacting wealthy suburbs as much as the inner cities. It strikes rich and poor; white, black, and Latino; rural and urban dwellers; young and old.
The Partnership has made available PSA's in English and Spanish for both radio and TV stations that will be part of the campaign we announce today. I'd like to show you those right now.
As you can see, these are compelling messages that every American should see and hear. We at the Partnership for Drug Free Kids are grateful to the NAB and our broadcast radio and TV stations for helping us get the word out.
Before I turn it back to Gordon, I'd like to acknowledge someone in the audience from New Jersey. Denise Mariano, a parent coach for the Partnership, has lived through the crisis of opioid addiction first-hand. Her wonderful son, Michael, became addicted to prescription drugs and was denied treatment by their insurance company for 16 months as his addiction worsened.
Luckily, this story has a happy ending. Michael has been in recovery for over 3 years.
We are grateful to Denise for her willingness to be here, and so thankful that her son is in recovery.
With the grace of God and the work that we are doing today, we hope we have thousands of more stories like that of Denise.
And now I turn it back to Gordon Smith.
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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.