ViacomCBS's entertainment and youth channels, along with CBS Sports Network, will cease programming Tuesday afternoon for eight minutes and 46 seconds in a symbolic protest of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, was seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds in a video that emerged on May 24. Floyd was heard saying the video, which went viral, that he could not breathe.
The ViacomCBS tribute includes the words "I can't breathe" on the screen against a black background, with the sound of natural breathing as its audio.
It will be broadcast at 5 p.m. on BET, CBS Sports Network, Comedy Central, Country Music TV, Logo, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Pop TV, Smithsonian and VH-1.
"Breath is one of the many things that unites us,” said Chris McCarthy, president of ViacomCBS entertainment and youth brands, in a memo to staff.
"And during this time, when Black lives are under attack in so many ways, we want to leverage all of our platforms to show our ally-ship. We have partnered with Color of Change to include a call to action—an important step to help all of us understand that we have a responsibility to get involved and be part of the solution," McCarthy added.
A $30 billion merger between CBS and Viacom was closed in December. The two companies had previously been one entity before splitting in 2006.