The Walt Disney Company To Support U.S. Troops At Home And Abroad And The Nation’s Relief And Rebuilding Efforts

BURBANK, Calif. – The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) today reiterated its commitment to support U.S. troops at home and abroad, and assist in the nation’s relief and rebuilding programs. The scope of Disney’s efforts include several initiatives and various company affiliates, including ABC, Inc., ESPN, Disney Channel, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Disney Consumer Products, and The Walt Disney Studios. DisneyHand, the company’s corporate public service arm, will coordinate all efforts.

The Walt Disney Company has become a USO World Sponsor, supporting outreach and marketing efforts on behalf of the USO and its programs. Disney is providing more than $1 million in financial aid and in-kind support for the USO. Disney talent will visit U.S. troops abroad in January, and the company will produce and feature public service announcements focusing on how people can get involved in the war effort that will run on several Disney media outlets beginning this week. In addition, Disney has donated several thousand videos through the USO to military bases and will provide a combination of first-run movies and library classics for troops, and ESPN The Magazine will be distributing magazines on USO tours. Also, on November 11 and 12, in honor of Veteran’s Day, ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire featured military personnel from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Fourteen finalists were chosen at an audition of 1,700 service personnel at Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk, VA, the world’s largest Naval station and home of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

Disney’s radio properties also are providing support to U.S. troops. TalkRadio 790 KABC, 95.5 KLOS-FM, ESPN Radio 1110-AM, KDIS 710-AM and Radio Disney have partnered with the Voice of America (VOA), and the Army Broadcasting Service in providing these two agencies with recorded holiday messages that will be heard by U.S. servicemen and women stationed in various countries and messages of goodwill to people around the globe.

Disney also will focus on its core constituencies – kids and families – as the nation continues work on relief and rebuilding efforts. The Walt Disney Company has been working closely with the Points of Light Foundation, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to involve more people more effectively in volunteer service to help solve serious social problems. Disney produced and is running public service announcements on ABC-TV and Disney Channel encouraging people to volunteer and offer their services. The spots featured the Foundation’s contact information (1-800-VOLUNTEER) and encouraged Americans to take positive steps in helping heal the country in the aftermath of September 11. Disney companies will continue to provide financial and in-kind support, particularly promotion throughout Disney’s media outlets, for Points of Light Foundation.

In addition, DisneyHand has sent gift copies from Disney Publishing Worldwide of the illustrated children’s book Across America, I Love You to children’s public libraries around the country. Across America, I Love You, is a poetic tribute that draws parallels between this country’s natural phenomena and a youngster who is growing increasingly independent. The book was originally published in 2000.

“The terrible events of September 11, prompted all Americans to take stock of their priorities and determine how, in big ways or small, they can help in the fight against terror,” said Michael D. Eisner, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “In this spirit, our company is also working to do what it can. One of our strengths is the ability to communicate with a wide range of people across our nation and around the world. And so, we are mobilizing in a number of ways to get the word out about what we all are fighting for and how we can each help mount the battle.”

Immediately following the events of September 11th, The Walt Disney Company established the DisneyHand: Survivor Relief Fund, to which Disney made a corporate contribution of $5 million and Disney employees contributed more than $700,000. Other Disney entities, including KABC-TV, ESPN Radio and Radio Disney in Los Angeles, and Dallas radio stations KSCS-FM, KMEO-FM and WBAP-AM raised more than $1 million through events and promotions. Disney cast members from around the country also offered their volunteer services, including providing medical assistance, making and delivering food for rescue workers, lending assistance at community centers for grieving families, staffing for fund-raising activities, organizing relief-fund drives, purchasing and delivering needed supplies, and offering general support for those working at the site of the World Trade Center Towers.

“At Disney, we are proud of what our company and our cast members have done to help the nation, but we all realize that we can always do more,” said Walt Disney President and COO Bob Iger. “This may be a different kind of war, but it is still a war and, just as during past conflicts, this company and this industry have a valuable role to play. We intend to make a meaningful contribution for as long as it takes.”

In late September, Disney companies created and introduced public service announcements featuring First Lady Laura Bush to help kids cope with their feelings and emotions about the September 11, attacks. The spots featuring Mrs. Bush launched Disney Channel’s “Express Yourself” campaign, which featured celebrities talking about communication, diversity and optimism, and aired frequently on ABC and its affiliated stations, as well as Radio Disney. The “Express Yourself” campaign has continued to run on Disney Channel during the Zoog Disney afternoon and primetime programming block and features other well-known personalities, including Whoopi Goldberg, Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina the Teenage Witch), Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle), Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire) and Christy Romano (Even Stevens). The campaign urges viewers to express their feelings in positive ways and to seek out the goodness that still exists in the world.

On November 11, in Beverly Hills, industry executives, including Mr. Iger, met with Karl Rove, a senior White House official, to discuss Hollywood’s role in the war on terrorism. Mr. Rove articulated several ways in which the Bush Administration believes Hollywood might help the war effort, including public service announcements encouraging Americans to volunteer and helping children cope with current events, support for troops and their families, and outreach to international communities. He also stressed that this was a war against terrorism and evil, not Islam, and that the administration was not asking Hollywood to produce propaganda. Many of Disney’s initiatives that began before that meeting will continue and will be augmented with new programs.

“The meeting on November 11, was a positive dialogue to which the industry responded appropriately. The administration articulated their points well and presented reasonable ideas for all of us to enable America and its citizens, military and civilian alike, to contend with the challenges of a changed world.” said Iger. “Disney is a leader in an industry that is extremely effective when it comes to communicating messages, and it is incumbent upon us to use those tools for this effort.”

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