George Floyd death: TV, radio and music industries mark 'Blackout Tuesday'

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Image caption,
Mistajam's BBC 1Xtra show is one of several programmes to reflect the conversation around George Floyd's death

Radio stations and TV channels have changed their programmes to mark "Blackout Tuesday", reflecting on George Floyd's death in police custody.

BBC Radio 1Xtra is hosting a series of discussions and debates in support of the black community, with song choices that reflect black pride and identity.

Many record labels and music stars have stopped work to observe the initiative.

MTV went silent for eight minutes - the length of time a white police officer knelt on Mr Floyd's neck.

The gesture has been replicated on other channels including VH1 and Comedy Central, while 4 Music will pause its output once an hour throughout the day.

There have also been moments of reflection on BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2, while commercial radio stations including Kiss, Magic and Absolute Radio are observing a social media blackout "to show that racism of any kind cannot be tolerated".

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ITV daytime show This Morning briefly went dark, showing a black screen with the words "Black Lives Matter".

Presenter Alison Hammond later said Mr Floyd's death "hurt me to the pit of my stomach".

"Firstly, I am a mother of a 15-year-old black boy," she said. "When I saw that image of George Floyd, I saw my brothers, I saw my father and I saw my son, I saw everybody's son and I was disgusted to my core.

"If black lives mattered, we wouldn't be in this situation."

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Apple Music's Zane Lowe tweeted that he would skip Tuesday's edition of his radio show, saying he stood "united with his black and brown friends and colleagues".

"I will not be on radio. I will be taking part in Blackout Tuesday, listening, learning and looking for solutions to fight racial inequality," the DJ added.

On Radio 1, Clara Amfo gave a powerful speech about the effects of racism and the recent events on her mental health.

The broadcaster said Mr Floyd's death reinforced a feeling among black people "that people want our culture, but they do not want us".

Music companies and musicians around the world adopted Tuesday as a day of reflection and protest in the wake of Mr Floyd's death last week in Minneapolis.

Katy Perry posted a plain black square to her Instagram account with the caption: "I hope that #BlackoutTuesday gives us all (especially in the music industry) an opportunity to take what we're learning and put it into action on Wednesday, and every day going forward."

Rihanna said her Fenty beauty label would not conduct any business on Tuesday.

Apple's iTunes store and its streaming service Apple Music replaced their usual carousels of new music and playlists with a slide stating: "This moment calls upon us all to speak and act against racism and injustice of all kinds."

Listeners were then directed to a livestream of the Beats 1 radio station, where the music is focusing on themes of black empowerment and civil rights. (All of the service's usual tracks were still available through the search function, however.)

Image source, Apple Music
Image caption,
Apple Music has replaced its regular carousel of new music and playlists with a simple message

Spotify, meanwhile, blacked out the artwork for several of its most prominent playlists, including Today's Hits and Rap Caviar.

The company also inserted a silence of eight minutes and 46 seconds into selected podcasts and playlists "as a solemn acknowledgement for the length of time that George Floyd was suffocated".

'Provoking change'

The movement began last Friday, when a number of companies and artists shared a statement posted under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, calling for "a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community" and "an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change".

The initiative was started by Atlantic Records marketing executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, and spread by hundreds of artists including Billie Eilish, Britney Spears, the Rolling Stones, Radiohead, producer Quincy Jones and Eminem.

"Tuesday, June 2nd is meant to intentionally disrupt the work week," wrote Agyemang and Thomas.

"The music industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. An industry that has profited predominantly from Black art. Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of black people accountable."

They have subsequently posted several calls to action, including a reading list called Anti-Racism Resources and links to community action groups.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

All three major record labels - Universal, Sony and Warner Music, whose combined annual revenues exceed $16bn (£12.75bn) - signed up to the initiative, as did many independent labels, the Glastonbury Festival and event organisers Live Nation.

Interscope Records also vowed to stop releasing new music for a week, while many others donated money to the George Floyd Memorial Fund.

But some people in the music industry criticised the initiative's lack of clarity and direction, dismissing it as "virtue signalling".

"I love you all, but this music industry shutdown thing feels tone deaf to me," wrote indie musician Bon Iver on Twitter, although he later apologised for "calling out people when they are on the same side as you".

Indie labels Father/Daughter Records and Don Giovanni also said they did not plan to observe the blackout.

"If BLM [Blacks Lives Matter] calls for the music industry to take action, we will," wrote the latter on its Twitter page. "But I have no interest in supporting major label record executive white guilt day."

However, Agyemang and Thomas have stressed the blackout is just the beginning of a larger campaign.

"This is not just a 24-hour initiative," they wrote. "We are and will be in this fight for the long haul. A plan of action will be announced."

Media caption,

Ashley Banjo: "I looked at George Floyd and I saw my dad"

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