Cable operators really had the misfortune to be the early leader in the pay TV game. If they’d followed satellite or the telcos, perhaps consumers would be cursing the satellite guy who shows up three hours late instead of the cable guy. Guess it’s just cable’s cross to bear. Cox Arizona and its statewide TV channel, Cox 7, have more than shouldered that burden — they’ve helped redeem the industry, to a degree. Cox, through its TV channel, has committed itself to building community identity and raising awareness of some of the issues that most affect families in Arizona, with an intense emphasis on youth and education.

Cox 7’s nearly yearlong high school sports coverage, for instance, culminates in a May event, Everyday Heroes, produced in partnership with the Arizona Interscholastic Association. The live two-hour telecast honors the on- and off-field heroics of students, teachers and administrators.

Academic heroics get their due as well. Cox 7’s academic quiz show, Brainstorm, which encompasses 48 high schools, will extend its third season to 21 weeks.

The connection with local youth is perhaps made most strongly, and poignantly, through the My Choice, My Voice initiative, Cox 7’s partnership with Atlanta-based Connect With Kids. Here’s how it works: Cox 7 screens a Connect With Kids half-hour program on, say, Internet safety, at a youth summit co-hosted by the Scottsdale Unified School District. Reactions at the summit are videotaped, and other interviews and on-the-street feedback are added, resulting in a localized, hour-long version of the episode. The most recent show was My Choice, My Voice: Just Once, which looks at the methamphetamine crisis; in June Cox 7 took this episode to a local Boys & Girls Club as part of its outreach.

"We use topics that are relevant and important for our community," says JC Collins, integrated marketing director for Cox Media in Arizona. "We did a My Voice, My Choice show on drinking and driving, one of the reasons being is that Arizona high schools in particular have one of the highest incidences of car crashes with teens drinking and driving. We tie episodes into the schools and involve kids who have been involved in either drugs or drinking and driving, so that kids can talk to kids about these problems, and it’s not just a talking head adult doing it."

The Cox 7 website offers My Choice-related free resources, such as information about Cox’s "Take Charge!" Internet and TV safety program, and downloadable bilingual lesson plans for teachers about teen drug use, as well as downloadable videos.

"Our commitment is to helping our communities thrive with really positive avenues for kids, and having direct dialogues with families on issues that they deal with every single day," Collins says.

Fast Facts

  • The next My Voice, My Choice hour-long special will look at the importance of voting.

  • Cox 7 Arizona has been carrying high school football for 27 years.

  • Brainstorm is based on the long-running It’s Academic, airing on the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C.

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