On June 1, 2020, a brief video clip supposedly showing how the children's network Nickelodeon went dark for eight minutes and 46 seconds -- the length of time a Minnesota police officer named Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on the neck of George Floyd, killing the unarmed black man -- in support of justice and equality. The clip began to circulate on social media:
This is a genuine image that was aired on Nickelodeon.
At 5 p.m. on most Mondays, the cable landscape dominated by ViacomCBS is filled with familiar sights: Jim playing pranks on Dwight on “The Office”; the host Rob Dyrdek mocking viral-video wannabes on “Ridiculousness,” actor Tim Allen unsuccessfully trying to rule his roost on “Last Man Standing.”
But viewers tuning in on this Monday were greeted with something different: a black screen with the words “I Can’t Breathe,” flashing in rhythm to the sounds of loud labored breathing.
The piece, one-part tribute, one-part video art, honored George Floyd, the Minnesota man who died at the hands of police, and the national wave of Black Lives Matter protests his death jump-started. It lasted the same amount of time — 8 minutes and 46 seconds — that police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck. Ten ViacomCBS cable channels, including Comedy Central, MTV and CMT, carried the message.
Here's a video of what aired on ViacomCBS networks for eight minutes and 46 seconds on June 1:
While MTV, VH1, and ViacomCBS' other networks geared toward adults aired the above-displayed video, Nickelodeon itself appears to have opted for a message that was more directly aimed at children. Newsweek reported that the above-displayed video also aired on Nickelodeon, but we have not been able to confirm that.
Even so, Nickelodeon did display a screen explaining that it was “going off the air for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in support of justice, equality, and human rights" followed by a message the network deemed a "Declaration of Kid's Rights" that appeared on their social media pages. The social media message included the words, "We are all part of the change #blacklivesmatter."
Nickelodeon also shared a second message with the #blacklivesmatter hashtag:
This is not the first time that Nickelodeon has gone dark in support of a social justice cause. In 2018, the network went off air for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 students who were killed during a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.