If you were watching MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Comedy Central, TV Land or CMT when the channel went dark at 10 a.m. (in all time zones) on Wednesday, you shouldn’t be alarmed. Your regularly scheduled programming is set to continue in 17 minutes.
Why? All Viacom-owned networks and platforms paused at that time to honor the 17 lives lost in the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month.
According to the company, it’s a show of solidarity to coincide with the National School Walkout on Wednesday, a movement in which students and teachers all across the country will leave their classrooms for 17 minutes to pay tribute to the victims of gun violence and to show Congress their demand for stricter gun control laws.
MTV is also handing over control of its social media account to students across the country during the walkout.
Shari Redstone, the vice chair of Viacom’s board, will donate $500,000 to the March For Our Lives movement and the company’s networks will continue their support after the walkout, with coverage promoting the student-led demonstration in Washington, D.C. on March 24.
“This generation continues to be the driving force for change,” said Marva Smalls, Viacom executive vice president of global inclusion. “With more than 17 young people dying from gun violence every single day, unfortunately no community is safe. We believe it’s critical to support the inspiring efforts of our youth, who are literally fighting for their lives. Viacom also has a responsibility to our audiences to do everything we can to elevate the many brave and bold activists to help them extend the reach and impact of their voices in this important movement.”
These moves are in line with Viacom’s decision to delay the premiere of “Heathers” on the Paramount Network last month, “out of respect” for the Florida shooting victims.