Lifetime spends much of its resources not only on integrating women-friendly issues into its programming but also on actively advocating for those issues in Washington. Working closely with members of Congress, the cable network has accomplished several important legislative goals, and several more are pending. The network is involved with everything from getting women to vote to creating programming to nourish women’s self-esteem.
Lifetime’s signature campaign since 1998 has been stopping domestic violence against women. In April, Terror at Home, a documentary by Oscar-winning filmmaker Maryann De Leo and Grammy-winning artist and activist Michael Bolton, became Lifetime’s second-highest-rated documentary ever, averaging a 1.4 household rating and 1.4 million viewers. Terror at Home is the cornerstone of the network’s 2005 campaign to stop violence against women.
Another high-rated movie for Lifetime this year was Odd Girl Out, an adaptation of the book by Rachel Simmons, which explored girls’ cliques, social structures and bullying. The movie was basic cable’s highest-rated original movie of the year, with 5.1 million viewers tuning in.
After helping to get two important pieces of legislation passed in 2004—one required all untested DNA samples to be tested, putting at-large criminals in jail, and another makes it a federal crime to secretly capture images of people in situations in which they have the expectation of privacy—Lifetime’s advocacy team is working on two new pieces of legislation. One would prevent hospitals from releasing women too soon after having mastectomies. Another would help stop sex trafficking both domestically and abroad. A movie, Human Trafficking, is in the works.
“It’s the right thing for us to do because we are the network for women and we have this platform that reaches 89 million viewers,” says Meredith Wagner, Lifetime’s executive VP of corporate communications and public affairs. “It’s really intensified our relationship with our viewers.”