June 1, 2020
ViacomCBS last weekend vowed to make a strong statement following the death of black man Greg Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day. At 5 p.m. ET on June 1 the media giant’s properties, including MTV, Comedy Central, BET and VH1 aired eight minutes and forty-six seconds of breathing sounds with the words “I can’t breathe.” Other contributing channels included Paramount Networks, TV Land, CMT, Logo, CBS Sports and Nickelodeon.
Chris McCarthy, president of the company’s entertainment & youth group, in an email to staff first reported by CNBC, said the symbolic move — the time span a white police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck, killing him — was about denouncing a horrible tragedy due to social injustice.
“One week ago, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the breath of one of our fellow humans was taken from him. His name was George Floyd,” McCarthy wrote. “Today at 5pm ET, the E&Y brands and platforms around the world will go dark for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to show our support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and the fight against police brutality and racial inequality.”
The ViacomCBS action comes following a weekend when myriad media companies, streamers and studios pledged solidarity on social media to Black Lives Matter.
“We know there is a lot of work ahead of us, and I am committed to action beyond these words with all of you,” McCarthy wrote in the email. “We must continue to work together, to look within, and to support one other and our fellow humans — all with compassion for each other.”