June 14, 2015: In 1998 Channel One hired Dr. Paul Folkemer, a middle school principal from New Jersey. Folkemer’s job was to undermine efforts of parents and educators who were seeking the removal of Channel One’s advertising from classrooms.
Ask Dr. Folkemer
Channel One – Peddlers of Despair
Channel One, the marketing company with headquarters on Madison Avenue (by the way, their product called Channel One News is outlawed in all public schools in their own home state of New York) and studio in Hollywood USA has come up with another effort to look educational and to look like they care about children and their parents.
Dr. Paul Folkemer is a former middle school principal who was hired as Channel One’s Vice-President of Education. During the U.S. Senate hearing on Channel One (May 1999), Dr. Folkemer said he was the “child advocate” at the Channel One Network.
Dr. Folkemer has repeatedly said that he gives final approval to all advertisements on the in-school TV show and channelone.com. His power in this controversial and beleaguered company is probably greater than his title.
Obligation commends Channel One for allowing the public to pose questions to Dr. Folkemer. Obligation will take them up on their offer. We will send questions to Dr. Folkemer and we will post the questions here and also tell you if we get a responsive reply.
The questions will be asked by Jim Metrock, president of Obligation, since his son is in a school that contractually obligates the students to be shown the program. Therefore he has standing, as a “Channel One parent”, to ask Dr. Folkemer questions.
Let’s give it a go.
1.Dear Dr. Folkemer:
Why did you give final approval to commercials for the PG-13 movie “The Waterboy” in late 1998? This movie was filled with profanity and sex jokes. The movie’s whole plot centered around young people making fun of a mentally retarded young man. What redeeming values lead you to personally approve this movie for children in Channel One schools? Did you see this movie before you approve it?
2. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
Many schools in Alabama and elsewhere that have a contract with Channel One, don’t show your program according to the contract. As you know my school system, Vestavia Hills, AL, has not honored your company’s contract for, at least, the last four years and Channel One appears to be unconcerned. Has Channel One changed their terms of contract in any way? Can schools fudge on the “90% of all school days and 80% of all classrooms” terms and keep the equipment?
3. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
Channel One employees once wrote an article on the channelone.com web site instructing children how they could cheat on book reports by watching certain movies as opposed to reading the assigned book. You must be familiar with this Channel One article because Obligation has mentioned it many times. Do you as a former educator distance yourself from this aspect of Channel One? Do you think it was wrong for Channel One to talk to children in this way?
4. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
On your web site and in literature your company distributes you refer to “two minutes” of commercials on each Channel One News program. Indeed, that is the maximum amount of advertising allowed by your contract. Isn’t it the truth that Channel One routinely runs more than two minutes of commercials on the TV show? Don’t you run “bonus” commercials at the end of the program? Don’t you have musical artists co-host the show so they can push their latest CDs and tours to our children? Don’t you advertise Channel One’s brand over and over on your show? Are you personally upset by Channel One violating the contract by exceeding the commercial limit your company imposed upon itself?
5. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
One of the most distasteful things about the Channel One TV show is what your marketing company requires of children who send you art work. Each show begins with a display of art sent in by students in hopes of seeing their talent shown across the country. I have seen hundreds of your shows and each piece of art has a Channel One logo in the picture. Why do you require a child to include your “1” logo? Why are you forcing children to become unpaid graphic artists for your advertising department? Why can’t you allow children to paint or draw a beautiful picture without trying to promote your brand? Do you trash the art you get that doesn’t contain the Channel One logo or do you send it back and instruct the child to include the brand?
6. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
Earlier this year, a few weeks AFTER the terrible Columbine high school shootings, you approved a commercial for the very violent PG13 movie called “The Mummy.” Why did you do that? Did you see this movie before you gave it your final approval? I saw the movie after Channel One urged children to see it. There is much human-to-human violence. There are many humans dying by gunshot. The movie starts off with a murder followed by the suicide of the murderer. Didn’t this strike you as an inappropriate movie to promote to children as young as ten and eleven? Then there was a graphic hanging scene that would scare many children, maybe, even some teenagers. Can you tell the public what are the factors that go into your decision to approve a movie ad?
7. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
This year, 1999, you approved a “Seventeen” magazine commercial for Channel One students. Have you ever picked up a copy of this magazine? Were you forced to approve this ad because Primedia, the company that owns Channel One, also owns Seventeen? Did you know about the often graphic sexual nature of the content? This magazine constantly puts in front of girls unhealthy body images. Girls can’t be thin enough. Do you think it was a mistake to promote this magazine to schoolchildren? Will you push this magazine on children in the future?
That’s all for now. We have a gazillion questions to go, but let’s wait for some answers.
9/13/99 There’s a good chance it might take some time for Channel One to answer my questions, so I’m going on with more questions for the good doctor.
8. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
You have made several different statements about Obligation’s claim that Channel One played the satanic rock band Marilyn Manson for its captive audience of schoolchildren. One time you said it was simply instrumental Manson music (as if that was OK), at another time you implied that the lyrics were spoken by your anchors and they were non-offensive.
Will you finally agree that you and your company have mislead the public on this? Will you secure a promise from Channel One management to never again play or promote music from groups that are known for their ultra-violent and sexuality-explicit lyrics? This is not to be taken lightly, you know the history of Channel One. This will be a giant leap for them. Before you reply you may want to refresh yourself withthe truth about Channel One and Marilyn Manson.
9. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
Will you publish the list of all music acts, movies, video games, and television shows that have been advertised, promoted or featured in anyway on Channel One News since the current company has owned the company (January 1, 1995)? Parents, like me, have a right to know what your company urged our children to listen to and to watch. If that is too onerous, please publish on your web site the list from January 1, 1998 to date.
10. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
Can you name three products that teachers can feel comfortable advertising to their students?
11. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
You routinely approve Clearasil and OxyBalance commercials on the TV show. Are you aware that these products don’t work on many children. Worse, according to some dermatologists, these over-the-counter medicines can aggravate acne. The use of these do-it-yourself medicines also keep children from seeing doctors for proper treatment. Your “Dr.” title does not signify “M.D.” status, yet, you and your fellow Channel One executives are urging children to self-medicate themselves, what credentials do you personally have to approve these promotions to children?
12. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
On September 2, you approved a commercial that was extremely inappropriate for a classroom setting. The first thing children focus on is the barely covered torso of a girl in a skimpy bikini top in the middle of the screen. Later the girl is pushed into a pool and students see her trying to cover her breasts because her bra is missing. The last image provocatively shows the bikini top floating in the water. This was a commercial using sex to sell to children. Why did you approve this commercial? Why would you put teachers in the awkward position of showing these images? Is there a line that Channel One will not cross when it comes to plying sexual images in a classroom?
Note: Dr. Folkemer has yet to reply to any of these questions as of September 15, 1999. Maybe the marketing geniuses at Channel One only wanted “Ask Dr. Folkemer” to be a PR gimmick. Obligation urges parents, teachers, civic leaders, reporters and students themselves to use this link to ask Dr. Paul Folkemer, VP of Education for Channel One your own questions. Maybe you will get a reply.
13. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
Before Obligation brought public attention to it, Channel One ran “Personal Ads” for children at the Channel One web site. There, Channel One allowed children to exchange personal information with anonymous Internet users. How can you assure us that this will not be repeated in the future?
14. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
I haven’t seen your new magazine called “Entertainmenteen” which is put out by your parent company Primedia. Children are now seeing commercials for this magazine on your Channel One TV show. Since you give final approval to all commercials, what is it about this magazine that makes you comfortable promoting to children? Have you read this magazine? We don’t have it yet in Birmingham, so all I know is what was in your parent company’s press release. They stated it is a celebrity magazine aimed at younger teens. The press release says: “With the launch of “Entertainmenteen”, Primedia is aggressively expanding its reach to capture the loyalty of younger teens, before they graduate to other Primedia teen titles.” Were you in favor of promoting this magazine to kids or did you resist giving your approval?
Note: As of September 25, 1999, we have had no reply from anyone at Channel One. We continue to forward these questions on to Dr. Folkemer.
15. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
Channel One, the company that proudly “targets” children for advertisers is now trying to teach media literacy. I was wondering if you are going to use the outrageous Sept. 1999 ad I mentioned above that shows a topless teenage girl trying to cover her breasts with her hands as an example of how you allow advertisers to use sex to sell a product to a child? You approved that terrible ad yet days later you announce you are going to teach kids how to analyze commercials. Another ad which you have approved over and over again is the Winterfresh commercial from Wrigley that has sexually-charged images. One shot, which you know well, has a camera angling up from the ground and looks up a girls skirt as she walks toward a boy leaning on a car. Will this ad be used in your “media literacy” course for kids and teachers?
16. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
Why did you approve a commercial for the movie “Bats”? This had so much violence in it that it almost earned a rating of “R”.
The movie is filled with mutilated bodies and if you previewed the movie, you know the profanity is simply outrageous. This rises, or rather, descends to the “F-word” level. Why is Channel One doing this? What is your role in this. I called you up at your Madison Avenue office yesterday, October 26, and wanted to speak to you about this and why you haven’t answered any of these important questions. You assistant said you were in the office and took my number. No call back. If you don’t want to answer these questions here, please address them on your web site..The public has a right to know the thinking behind these actions that greatly affect their children.
As of October 28, 1999, still no answer from Dr. Folkemer or anyone from Channel One.
As of December 27, 1999, Dr. Folkemer has refused to answer any question posed to him from Obligation. Maybe he thinks these are “stupid questions” and they do not deserve his attention. I will continue to ask Dr. Folkemer questions about Channel One’s assault on children. I will give it another year and then reevaluate the situation. Anyway, here’s another one for you Doc.
17. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
Why did you approve commercials for James Bond’s newest movie “The World Is Not Enough”? You ran at least two commercials to your captive audience of schoolchildren. This movie was rated PG-13 and has the usual large amounts of sex jokes and sexual innuendoes and violence. Is this what you would want your own children or grandchildren watching? This movie marks a new level of violence for this series of movies. Bond shoots an unarmed woman to death at point blank range. (OK, Doc, I grant you this was a nasty woman, but what we are talking about is the appropriateness of advertising this entertainment to children.) Did you see this movie before you approved it for our children? Did Norma Clarke approve this movie for children? Did Jeff Ballabon approve this movie for children?
(These are other Channel One employees that say they help in determining what is advertised on the show.) Dr. Folkemer, when are you going to stop doing this to schoolchildren? I don’t know how much longer America can stand your idea of being a gatekeeper for our children. Channel One plays a significant role in the marketing of violence to children. (examples: Stephen King’s “The Shining”, Marilyn Manson, reviewing ultra-violent R-rated movies, “Bats”, “Waterboy”, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”) The public has deep concerns about Channel One, Dr. Folkemer. You are are not helping your company by remaining silent.
18. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
In November, 1999, you approved a commercial for a recording artist named Jessica Simpson. This is a first as far as I can tell. Have you gone totally mad? Who are you to tell our children what music they need to buy? You know you have a captive audience of impressionable schoolchildren and you have the nerve to promote recording artists to them in their classrooms. Where are you going to stop? Does every musical group now have access to our children? If they have the right amount of cash for you and you fellow Channel One “suits”?
This is so insulting to teachers. You are making them unofficial endorsers of this new singer. They have to stand by and watch your idiotic ads for Jessica Simpson and all the other junk you want our kids to buy to be shown to their precious students. Kids may be simply a “target audience” to you Channel One executives, but they are very special to parents and teachers. Dr. Folkemer, you use to be an educator – is it not about time you address some of these questions? On your own web site it says you give approval to commercials shown on Channel One. On your own web site, you tell the nation that you will answer questions for Channel One. Hopefully in 2000 Channel One will start giving answers.
In January, I met Dr. Folkemer in Franklin, PA. I asked him why he hadn’t responded to these questions. After all Channel One has an “Ask Dr. Folkemer” feature on their web site. The questions on this page are copies of ones I have submitted to Dr. Folkemer. He told me that he doesn’t respond to any questions submitted on the “Ask Dr. Folkemer” page of Channel One’s “ChannelOneParents.com” site. Somebody in the company just put that on the site and he didn’t think it was a good idea. So I don’t feel too bad that Dr. Folkemer has ignored me. Yet, these are important questions. I can do nothing else but continue to email them to Dr. Folkemer and hope he will see fit to be responsive.
In February, I again saw Dr. Folkemer. This time Mrs. Pat Ellis of Obligation and I dropped by the swanky Madison Avenue offices of Channel One in New York City. Dr. Folkemer was very nice, as he always is, and invited us back to his office and Noreen Clarke, who works with Dr. Folkemer and who also has an education background joined us.
I asked Dr. Folkemer one question that I have repeatedly asked on this page. “Before you give your final approval to a movie ad, do you see the movie?” He said, “No.” Since we were guests in his office and it would serve no purpose to get mad, we didn’t. I did ask, “Wouldn’t it be prudent to check the movies out first before children are told to see the movie?” I cannot remember exactly what Dr. Folkemer said, but it very close to saying that if a movie is PG13 then the assumption is it is “OK” for the Channel One audience above the age of 13. You see Channel One has recently pulled all ads for PG13 movies in middle schools. Channel One obviously thinks this shows their concern for children. Far from it, it shows their preoccupation with money – big money.
Click on this link to see information on the “violent and sexy movie” Folkemer, Clarke and Ballabon approved for children in January. These people should be ashamed of themselves. If they come to your town trying to defend their TV show, let them have it.
… Well, it is now May 16, 2000. Still no reply from Dr. Paul Folkemer. I will ask another question and I will email it to Dr. Folkemer.
19. Dear Dr. Folkemer:
You recently were quoted as dismissing the negative impact of candy and soft drink commercials on students who are forced to watch Channel One. Why do you think you are not harming young people when you promote this junk food? Also, if it is NOT harming them, do you believe that Snickers and Twix and Mt. Dew products benefit the health of young people?