May 27, 2008 -- In an unprecedented collaboration, all three major television networks will donate one hour of simultaneous commercial-free primetime this fall in an effort to raise money for cancer research.
The broadcast, "Stand Up To Cancer," will air on Sept. 5 on ABC, CBS and NBC and will feature live performances by recording artists and movie and film stars who will, along with the evening news anchors from each of the networks, deliver information about potentially life-saving cancer research.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the country after heart disease.
In commenting on why ABC decided to join the cause, Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and President, Disney-ABC Television Group, stated "Everyone in our country has been touched by cancer in some way, shape or form. The thought that we could, in one hour of television, make a true difference in the fight against this disease was both exciting and inspiring."
"The statistics are staggering," said Charles Gibson, anchor of ABC News's "World News Tonight with Charles Gibson." "Cancer claims one person every minute every day in the United States."
"Every year in this country, more than half a million people die from this disease," said Gibson, who took over the evening newscast after ABC News' Peter Jennings lost his battle with lung cancer in August 2005. "Worldwide, cancer kills more than six million people annually."
The American Cancer Society predicts that 1,437,180 new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year alone.
Money raised by "Stand Up To Cancer", a coalition of organizations from the scientific, medical and entertainment communities seeking to fight cancer in innovative ways, will be used for cancer research and treatments.
"What is smart about this organization is that there have been various wars on cancer launched in the past and most of them have done it in an approach to a single cause of cancer," said Gibson. "[The American Association for Cancer Research] is being very bright in that they're going to spread the money around to various approaches."
As much as 20 percent of the money raised will go toward less mainstream research, added Gibson.
Katie Couric, anchor of the "CBS Evening News," said in a press release that new research will make a huge difference to those affected by cancer.
"Cancer touches us all," said Couric, who lost her husband Jay Monahan to colon cancer in 1998. "For people struggling with this disease, or those who will be diagnosed, scientific breakthroughs can be a matter of life or death – literally."
"We want everyone to know that they can make a difference in this fight," added Couric.
"Stand Up To Cancer" believes that it is the lack of funding – not the scientific knowledge – that is preventing the advancement of cancer treatment and prevention.
"Not only has cancer touched all of our media organizations in profound ways, but it has touched each of us personally," said anchor of NBC's "Nightly News" Brian Williams.
"This extraordinary broadcast will serve a number of purposes – we'll share vital information with our viewers and hopefully raise funds that are so critical in the fight against this insidious disease," Williams added.
In addition to the broadcast, "Stand Up To Cancer" is launching an interactive website as well as a public service announcement campaign to further educate the public about cancer.
Gibson added that he hopes this partnership will urge more people to seek out answers to their questions and concerns about cancer.
"This is a kind of noble experiment," said Gibson of the project. "In the long run there's a public awareness responsibility here that may be more important than the money."