News About Channel One – Aug – Dec 1997

December 31, 1997
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Obligation, Inc.
– Channel One Is Bad News For Kids


FACE=”Arial”>To 1998 Press Releases and News About Channel One


Press Releases
and News About Channel One – 1997


December
15, 1997 – Mississippi Baptist Christian Action Commission Newsletter
Addresses Channel One Concerns


November
27, 1997 – Channel One May Have Advertised Adult Soap Opera To
Children (Revised)


November
20, 1997 –
Antidotes
to Pop Culture Poison


November
19, 1997 – Will Channel One Let You Own the Equipment?


November
18, 1997 – Personal Ads for Kids Gets New Name


November
15, 1997 – A Soap Opera Ad on Channel One?


November
15, 1997 – No Response from Channel One


November
10, 1997 – Obligation Tells Alabama TV Viewers That Marilyn Manson
Music Played During School


November
7, 1997 – Letter to Channel One’s President – Apologize to Schoolchildren
for Playing Marilyn Manson Music on In-School TV Show


October
21, 1997 – No Response From Birmingham-Area Schools Concerning
Chat Room Warnings


October
9, 1997 – Press Release – Channel One Schools Urged To Warn Parents
About Internet Chat Rooms


October
6, 1997 – "Critics Tune In To Channel One" – Front
Page Story of The Birmingham Post-Herald


September
24, 1997 – Channel One Is Not Intended for Pre-Teens


September
21, 1997 – TV in School Steals Time From Alabama’s Schoolchildren
– Op-Ed Article Published in the Montgomery Advertiser


September
20, 1997 – Call for Channel One Advertisers


September
15, 1997 – Wall Street Journal Article –Channel One Taps Principals
as Promoters


September
10, 1997 – So You Have Channel One in Your School


August
28, 1997 – Letter Sent to Alabama State Superintendent




FACE=”Arial”>December 15, 1997 – Mississippi Baptist Christian
Action Commission Newsletter Addresses Channel One Concerns


The problems with Channel One
were the focus of an article appearing in "Salt & Light"
a newsletter of the Mississippi Baptist Christian Action Commission.
The article, "Channel One – Captive Audience in the Classroom",
mentioned many of Obligation’s findings and research, along with
listing the numerous organizations that oppose Channel One.


The article mentions the Vassar
College’s study, some of the offensive commercials, the use of
Marilyn Manson music in the classroom, and much more.


It is very encouraging to see
a church organization take on popular culture issues that adversely
affect children. As the Baptist Convention did a great service
to the nation with the Disney Boycott, the Christian Action Commission
has done their members a great service by bringing before them
problems with this invisible intruder in Mississippi schools.


 


FACE=”Arial”>November 27, 1997 – Channel One May Have Advertised
Adult Soap Opera To Children


It appears that ABC’s steamy
"Port Charles" soap opera was advertised to Channel
One’s captive audience of eight million schoolchildren at least
once this year. We are awaiting a response from Channel One’s
Madison Avenue headquarters, so we have to couch our words with
qualifiers.


This is what is known: Teachers
in several states, including Alabama, have contacted Obligation
and told us a soap opera was advertised at least once in May
of this year on Channel One’s in-school TV show. No teacher can
remember the name of the program. Also, we have a copy of a Los
Angeles Times article that a teacher sent us. It reported that
ABC was aiming a new soap opera called "Port Charles"
to young people. Obligation just received a copy of the article
"ABC Targets Younger Viewers With ‘Port Charles’".
This must be the one.


ABC blatantly talks about their
strategy for this "General Hospital" spin-off.


The article continues – "We’ll
be doing a lot of radio aimed at teenagers for the summer,"
said the ABC marketing chief. "And we’re looking at cross-promotional
opportunities for September and October that will take us into
the schools." "ABC has been extremely aggressive in
marketing ‘Port Charles’ to the audience it wants to attract.
The network has purchased advertising on Channel One, the TV
channel shown in many schools, and has contracted with an advertising
and promotional agency to put ‘Port Charles’ posters in school
gymnasiums and locker rooms."


So we are as certain as we can
be without having a tape that a soap opera was advertised on
Channel One. It appears to be "Port Charles". We await
a response from David Adler with PRIMEDIA to confirm it.


The "Port Charles"
show today (11/26/97) on ABC, features a young man whose live-in
girlfriend leaves for a party and he then invites a married woman
over for a sexual encounter. Here are some of the story lines
taken from "Port Charles web sites": "After Danielle
comes clean with Scott, her Uncle Rex is after her." Nicole
and Chris’s affair is almost discovered despite the secrecy."
"Julie tells Bennett (her dad) that she won’t tell her mother
about his affair with Eve." "Kevin and Lucy lie in
bed, joking about love potions. She teases him about taking advantage
of her." [Like most soap operas sex is between unmarried
couples.] "Karen wants to take Joe to bed after breaking
up with her boyfriend."


"Advertising a soap opera
to children as young as eleven is close to the bottom for Channel
One," said Jim Metrock, president of Obligation. "Alabama
parents and other taxpayers, as well as those across the country,
have no idea what this intruder is doing in our schools."


"Our state superintendent
must realize that support for public education in our state is
being eroded as long as Channel One goes unchallenged."


"Taxpayers paid dearly for
the time that ad (or ads) ran. That is a conversion of public
assets for private profit, it’s sleazy, and citizens will stop
it if our state leaders continue to ignore Channel One,"
Metrock said.



HEIGHT=”158″ NATURALSIZEFLAG=”0″ ALIGN=”middle” BORDER=”3″>


SIZE=”-1″ FACE=”Arial”>Obligation was pleased to contribute
information for the article "Antidotes to Pop Culture Poison"
in the December issue of The Heritage Foundation’s magazine,
"Policy Review". Author Kris Napier gives parents solid
steps they can take to help combat the popular culture’s impact
on their children.


The article mentions our efforts
to encourage schools to discontinue the controversial TV show
– Channel One. It mentions that Channel One "urges schoolchildren
to use its chat rooms, which encourages them to reveal personal
information."


The magazine is now at news stands.
You can contact Policy Review at 202-546-4400 or polrev@heritage.org
for a copy of this important article or for a subscription. Their
web site is www.policyreview.com.


 


FACE=”Arial”>November 19, 1997 – Will Channel One Let You Own
the Equipment?


A Kansas middle school teacher
who is very familiar with Channel One sent us a letter, dated
November 12,1997, telling us how wonderful Channel One is. She
says, "At the end of three years, if the school no longer
wishes to be a part of Channel 1, the equipment becomes the property
of the school." Whoa.


We have seen some Alabama superintendents
confused about equipment ownership, but it has always been resolved
that they misunderstood the contract and that we were right.
(A little bragging never hurts.) No one has ever come out so
clearly and said that their Channel One contract says that they
get to keep the equipment after serving up the kids for three
years.


The beauty of the Internet is
that "the truth is out there." We can help each other
find it. Obligation’s understanding is that no school – ever
– gets to own the equipment. We were told that by Channel One’s
Martin Grant. If, indeed, some schools have negotiated a different
contract with Channel One or were offered a different contract,
we would like to know.


Tell us what your Channel One
contract says about owning the equipment. If you can, please
send us a copy of your contract. (It could be either a "Whittle
Communications" contract " or a "K-III Communications"
contract.) Email us at info@obligation.org
. All information will be confidential.


 


FACE=”Arial”>November 18, 1997 – Personal Ads for Kids Gets
New Name


Our complaints about Channel
One’s web site having a "Personal Ads" feature have
finally been heard. Indeed, Channel One has taken concrete steps
to address our concerns.


They changed the name of "Personal
Ads" to "Meet & Greet".


Same content as before. Children
exchanging email addresses with complete strangers. Sample from
11/17/97: "My name is Jessica. I’m 15. brown/auburn hair,
blue eyes. I live in Sandersville, Ohio. My email address is
JES@AOL.com. See ya, Jessica" [The name, city, state, and
email address were changed by us.] Just like a PR firm, Channel
One thinks the name "Personal Ads" was a mistake, not
the concept. Their insensitivity to children continues. What
happens when a child gets hurt? Parents will be looking at their
local school board.


 


FACE=”Arial”>November 15, 1997 – A Soap Opera Ad On Channel
One?


FACE=”Arial”>Do you know what soap opera was advertised on Channel
One in May of this year? Click on this line and email us.
SIZE=”-1″ FACE=”Arial”> Thanks. (All information is confidential.)


We feel safe in saying now that
a soap opera was pitched to children by Channel One in May of
this year. We first heard the report by a substitute teacher
in Birmingham. She told us that she didn’t see it herself but
that a teacher came into her room and said, "You won’t believe
what Channel One advertised today!" She said a commercial
for a soap opera was shown. The substitute could not remember
the name of the soap. She did not know if it ran more than once.


After calling us, the substitute
teacher felt uncomfortable in asking other teachers about the
name of the soap opera because it might look like she was causing
trouble. (Just a moment for an editorial and rhetorical question:
What has happened to our schools, when teachers are scared to
death of falling out of favor with a principal or superintendent
who’s endorsed and blessed Channel One?) Obligation could not
secure a copy of any Channel One tape the week in question. No
one at two other Channel One schools knew anything about a soap
opera ad. With only second-hand knowledge, we did not pursue.
Actually, we thought it had to be a mistake. Channel One has
"pushed the envelope" many times before, but "soap
operas"?


Soap operas are a known commodity.
Most people would think "Marilyn Manson" was a female
country singer instead of being a satanic all-male rock band.
But everyone knows the highly-charged and irresponsible sexual
nature of soap operas. (Unless there’s a new wholesome one which
we don’t know about.)


Yesterday, we got more evidence
that Channel One did indeed run a commercial for a soap opera
in May. Alas, it was again indirect evidence. (A librarian in
a Midwestern state, who was very concerned about our report on
Manson music being played on Channel One, said that teachers
had complained about a soap opera commercial in May.)


Now we need your help. Use the
link above to contact us if you have information about this commercial.
We imagine it is probably an ABC soap opera, since ABC is a major
sponsor of Channel One and has signed a deal to help Channel
One with their news (more advertising for ABC). Parents need
to know what their children are being told to see during Channel
One. Please help.


 


FACE=”Arial”>November 15, 1997 – No Response From Channel One


Obligation has yet to receive
a reply to our November 7 letter (below) to David Tanzer, president
of Channel One. We, however, have heard indirectly from two teachers
in two Midwestern states that have contacted Channel One and
the PR people have told them that Marilyn Manson will not be
played again. One teacher said that Channel One called the playing
of Manson (at least twice in 1996) a "mistake".


One teacher asked us if Manson
was played this year. We have not heard any songs on this year’s
programs, but the school that was providing us and our community
with tapes of Channel One has developed a "bunker mentality"
and has sharply curtailed the taping of the show for parental
review. (Note: This is outrageous conduct by public servants
that receive a paycheck from parents/taxpayers.) So we only saw
2 shows for the entire month of September 1997. (Four episodes
were taped for parental review in October – double September’s
figure!) Even this spring, when our school was still allowing
parents to check out a tape of each Channel One show that was
shown to students, an average of only 50% of each week’s shows
were taped.


With such a small sampling of
Channel One shows, we can’t report with accuracy that certain
things are not happening on the show.


Obligation is having a music
store review Channel One’s on-air music selections over the last
two years. The initial findings are disturbing. We will report
back later with a full report on the music Channel One made our
children and grandchildren listen to during their school day.


 


FACE=”Arial”>November 10, 1997 – Obligation Tells Alabama TV
Viewers That Marilyn Manson Music Played During School


Jim Metrock was the in-studio
guest of WBRC’s Good Day Alabama morning show today. The topic
concerned the impact that explicit content music groups, like
the death-rock satanic Marilyn Manson, have on children.


Metrock told the anchor, Janice
Rogers, that many parents are unaware that Manson’s music was
played in Alabama public schools over the controversial in-school
TV show called Channel One. More information about explicit content
groups and Channel One’s TV show and web site can be found on
this page.


 


FACE=”Arial”>November 7, 1997 – Letter to Channel One’s President
– Apologize To Schoolchildren For Playing Marilyn Manson Music
On In-School TV Show


Mr. David Tanzer, President

Channel One Network

600 Madison Avenue, Sixth Floor

New York, NY 10022


Dear Mr. Tanzer:


Our child advocacy organization
would like your company to apologize for playing the self-described
satanic-rock band Marilyn Manson during your in-school TV show
(Channel One News). We ask that Channel One News discontinue
playing any music that comes from a CD that has a "Parental
Warning" label. We also urge you to eliminate the names
of explicit content songs, or songs from CDs with a warning label,
from your web site’s "Playlist".


Channel One should also discontinue
reviewing explicit content CDs for children on your web site.
Bone Thugs and Harmony and Coolio are recent explicit CDs you
have reviewed.


Channel One has acquired a captive
audience of eight million impressionable children. Your company
should not be subjecting children to music groups known for their
profane, drug-drenched, suicidal, woman-hating lyrics. We have
not heard any explicit words in any of the portions of songs
you play for children, but Channel One does a great disservice
to children by featuring songs from bands known for their vulgarity.


Channel One played Manson music
at least once in the 1995-96 school year and at least once in
the 1996-97 school year. We have a copy of the tapes to confirm
both instances. Yesterday, a father gave heart-breaking Senate
subcommittee testimony about the connection between listening
to Marilyn Manson and his son’s suicide. Parents and taxpayers
need to know where Channel One stands on explicit content music.


We look forward to your apology
and your promise that explicit content groups will never again
be a part of Channel One’s in-school TV show or its channelone.com
web site.


Much Obliged,


Jim Metrock

President


cc: Alabama and National News
Media


Other sources: Channel One Network,
212-508-6800 (www. channelone. com) ; K-III Communications (owner
of Channel One) William Reilly, CEO, 212-745-0100 (www. k-iii.
Com)


P.S. In the same regard, your
Channel One reviews of R-rated movies are extremely inappropriate
for your children web visitors. Do you agree?


FACE=”Arial”>October 21, 1997 – No Response From Birmingham-Area
Schools Concerning Chat Room Warnings


Obligation sent a request/press
release to each Birmingham-area school system that is still showing
Channel One urging them to send home a warning to parents and
students of the dangers of Internet chat rooms, especially the
Channel One chat room since that is being advertised to students
almost daily in school. So far, we have received no response
from these school systems: Bessemer City, Fairfield City, Jefferson
County, Midfield City, Shelby County, Tarrant City, and Vestavia
Hills City.


Please link to our press release
below for further information. This release resulted in two stories
on our local news. First, Jim Metrock gave a follow-up to a WBRC
Fox6 story on the alleged child predator that used chat rooms
to entice local children. He was a vice-principal for a Birmingham-area
high school. As Metrock talked the camera filmed the Channel
One "Personal Ads" for kids message board. The tips
Mr. Metrock gave for Internet safety can be found on Internet
and Children
.


Mr. Metrock was later featured
on a WBMG CBS42 news report that centered solely on the problems
with Channel One. "There are lots of chat rooms out there
for kids, but the Channel One chat room is different. It’s the
only one that the principal is telling the children to go to.
There’s an implied endorsement by the school," Metrock said.


There are more school administrators
that understand the inappropriateness of Channel One being in
a school, than do not. Most understand the dangers of repeatedly
telling students to "go to channelone.com", "Visit
our chat rooms at channelone.com". The October 16th Channel
One broadcast opens up shamelessly with this silent text "Come
chat with us at channelone.com".


School board members, superintendents,
and principals better hope few children take Channel One up on
their offer. Channel One gets Internet visitors only through
their relentless ads during school time. Percentage-wise very
few children will probably see these school-run ads for channelone.com.
However, every child that becomes a channelone.com visitor, chat
room member, a "Personal Ads" user, or who posts their
picture for "Fresh Faces" did so because some school,
somewhere ran the commercials for Channel One’s web site.


By promoting the use of Channel
One’s chat room (actually there are several Channel One chat
rooms, we’ll talk about that at another time), school systems
are encouraging the use of chat rooms in general. "Don’t
block my use of chat rooms, Mom, the school says it’s OK."
(Reminder: Although Channel One is specifically intended for
teenagers, many schools show the TV show to 6th and 7th grade
pre-teens.)


Unfortunately, like so many things,
a disaster will be the only thing to shake awake some school
systems. These systems are all run by well-intended, caring people
who have devoted their lives to other people’s children. But
when it comes to commercial exploitation of their schoolchildren,
they just don’t get it. They also, apparently, do not fully appreciate
the dangers of the Internet for children.


Let’s hope these "I Want
My Channel One" school board members, superintendents, and
principals know something the rest of us don’t.


 


October
9, 1997 – Press Release – Channel One Schools Urged To Warn Parents
About Internet Chat Rooms


 


FACE=”Arial”>October 6, 1997 – "Critics Tune In To Channel
One" – Front Page Story of The Birmingham Post-Herald


This article presented Obligation’s
view of Channel One and the opposing view. The article was written
by Elizabeth Wine (ewine@postherald.com
or 205-325-2308). Although no local superintendent was quoted,
State Superintendent Ed Richardson was. "(Richardson) said
that the trade-off of advertising for technology is ‘an unfortunate
dilemma’ but adds that he’s not too worried about the effects
of advertising on students."


Several school systems were forthright
in how they handle Channel One. (The apparent wholesale breaching
of the Channel One contract will be discussed later on this web
site.)


The last Channel One hold-out
in the "Over-the-Mountain" suburbs of Birmingham, AL
is Pizitz Middle School. They broadcast the TV show to a predominantly
pre-teen audience. The principal said only one person has complained
about the inappropriateness of showing Channel One. "(The
principal) said that the controversy over the two minutes’ of
advertising on Channel One overshadows the educational programming
provided by the network." He even says that one parent complained
about his previewing the Channel One show before school , because
that was a form of censorship.


He goes on to say that half of
the students never look at Channel One, preferring to do school
work or talk with classmates.


The Pizitz PTA president and
a teacher told the paper they "applaud the use of Channel
One." "(They both) like the world news stories Channel
One presents. They said its shows the students current events
they wouldn’t see otherwise." The PTA president said, "Kids
don’t read the papers or watch the (network) news."


The article noted the National
PTA, the National Education Association and the Eagle Forum’s
opposition to Channel One. It also mentioned the Vassar and Johns
Hopkins studies that said Channel One was not educational.


If a principal takes an active
role in promoting or defending the benefits of Channel One, it
will present a formidable obstacle for parents, teachers, and
others who believe Channel One is a waste. Some states restrict
public school administrators and teachers from promoting particular
vendors. As far as we can tell, Alabama has no such regulation.
In a state that allows school administrators to be pro-active
in support of a product like Channel One, those who want more
teaching and less Hollywood will have to work harder.


 


FACE=”Arial”>September 24, 1997 – Channel One Is Not Intended
For Pre-Teens


Although Channel One says a school
may show its TV show from 12th grade to 6th, they state repeatedly,
in their own contract and sales literature, that the show is
intended for teenagers. This ambiguity puts middle school principals
and their superintendents and school boards in an awkward position.


6th and 7th grade students are
mostly pre-teens. Should a school that has bought Channel One’s
sales pitch make pre-teens watch?


In the Channel One contract with
the Vestavia Hills (Alabama) school board, Channel One states
they will provide "…a daily 12-minute newscast specifically
designed by Whittle for teenagers which will include up to two
minutes of commercial content." (Whittle Communications’
Educational Network District Agreement, General Terms page 2)


"The editorial content will
include current events and news material of an educational nature
intended to be of interest to teenagers." (B. Whittle Agreements,
#4, page 3)


However, in Section D (1) (page
6), Channel One says: "To qualify for the Network, a school
must have only grades six through twelve or any configuration
thereof."


That is the section that throws
schools off. It gives the impression that showing Channel One
to pre-teens is age-appropriate. [Make no mistake about Obligation’s
observations of Channel One: This TV show is not good for any
youth.] They leave themselves "wiggle room" by never
actually saying a school has to show it to 6th and 7th grades.


This is a contract with the original
owners of Channel One, Whittle Communications. The contract must
have been assigned to the new owners K-III, because this was
the only contract our school system had in 1996, two years after
the buy-out. There may be newer contracts out from K-III that
says Channel One is specifically designed for teenagers and pre-teens,
but we are unaware of any. Obligation would appreciate a copy
of your school district’s contract with Channel One. All you
have to do is go to your local school system’s central office
and request a copy of the contract. Usually, your local middle
school or high school will not have the contract.


Channel One sales literature
also says it is for teenagers.


"If you’re looking to reach
teens, Channel One has 8.3 million of them. That’s more teens
than you’ll find anywhere on TV, including the Super Bowl. That’s
because Channel One delivers directly to teens. … And since
our programming is designed with teens in mind, teens really
pay attention to what we have to say. … If teens are your target
audience, give us a call to find out how the Channel One team
can deliver them…" ("We Beat the Bowl" ad in
Advertising Age)


This company even has a newsletter
directed at potential advertisers. It’s called "teenmkt.com
Newsletter".


"It’s easy to see the impact
Channel One has on the way teenagers view their world. And with
more teens watching Channel One than all prime-time network,
cable and syndicated programming combined, that impact goes a
very long way. Call Martin Grant, President of Sales and Marketing,
at 212-508-6800. Because as the only daily news network created
just for teenagers, Channel One does more than just reach 8.1
million teens. It gets to them." ( from a two-page ad in
Advertising Age, April 15, 1996)


"Huge ratings. Unsurpassed
reach. Unparalleled impact among teen viewers." ("Channel
One is viewed by more teens than any other program on television"
sales flyer, 1996)


Channel One is not only a company
that has redefined what is appropriate for school children to
see in school, they also have redefined, literally, the word
"teenager."


Most people would say a child
becomes a teenager when he or she turns thirteen. Channel One
now says a teenager for their marketing purposes is anyone 12
to 17. They are apparently molding the definition of "teenager"
to suit their audience, so their sales literature can make various
claims.


One only needs to watch the show
to realize it isn’t meant for pre-teens. When the Marines and
U.S. Army advertise to this audience, it is doubtful they are
targeting an eleven year old boy or girl. The drug stories often
are geared to older high school students and college-age students.
The company is pushing their SAT-prep course to the Channel One
viewers. Their website is reviewing R-rated movies and explicit-content
CDs. Is this done for pre-teens?


Channel One routinely interviews
children to get their thoughts on a news story or a youthful
perspective on an issue. They are almost always from a "Channel
One school" (which is self-promotion of Channel One). Obligation
has reviewed over 50 shows last school year and only one 12 year
old was ever interviewed. There is good reason why pre-teens
aren’t asked their opinions or asked to be a "on-the-scene"
student reporter. High school students would quickly tune-out
the show if it catered to its middle school audience. There are
indications, here in Alabama, that Channel One is already less
attractive to high school students than it is to middle school
students.


Parents of pre-teens and elementary
school students should ask their school boards to immediately
remove all pre-teens from the mandatory Channel One viewing.


 


FACE=”Arial”>September 21, 1997 – TV in School Steals Time
From Alabama’s Schoolchildren
– Op-ed article published in
the Montgomery Advertiser.


Alabama schoolchildren are being
robbed and taxpayers are getting fleeced by a TV show.


Even though it has been denounced
by virtually every major educational organization, many Montgomery-area
schoolchildren are forced to watch Channel One.


Channel One is the controversial
12-minute news show that is designed for a teenage consumer audience.
Two minutes are commercials. The "news" is not the
purpose of the show. The ads are. Channel One Network is an advertising
delivery system. Its primary objective is not educational, nor
journalistic. They purchase student school time from a school
board, that had no right to sell it, and they resell it to advertisers
eager for the undivided attention of a hard-to-get-to audience.


Our compulsory attendance laws
guarantee Channel One a captive audience. A 30-second commercial
can fetch $200,000 – prime-time rates.


Alabama taxpayers are paying
dearly for children to watch commercials for expensive athletic
shoes, junk food, offensive and violent movies and TV shows,
and promotions of Internet chat rooms that can pose real dangers
to children.


Last school year, children as
young as eleven were forced to watch ads for the most violent
primetime series on TV, Fox’s New York Undercover (same TV-14
rating as NYPD-Blue).

Many children must have watched in horror, last April, as a graphic
commercial for Stephen King’s "The Shining" was compelled
viewing. The "parental warning" at the end was not
heard by parents.


Why would a school board ever
think about selling this unprecedented access to students?

Here’s the deal. Channel One will furnish a school with the daily
satellite broadcast and the equipment to receive it: a fixed
satellite dish, two VCRs, and a TV set in each classroom. The
network is wired for free. The equipment is maintained at no
cost. The school can use the TV sets in any way they want. The
equipment always remains the property of Channel One.


All the school board has to do
is contractually agree to require its students to watch Channel
One 90% of all school days in 80% of all classrooms. It cannot
be shown before or after school, and it must be shown in its
entirety.


This means a school agrees to
turn over up to an hour a week of its curriculum to this private
company.


The show is of questionable educational
value (and that’s being charitable).


A study in 1994 by Dr. Nancy
Knupfer, Kansas State, concludes, "Channel One does not
appear to be effective in increasing students’ knowledge about
current events."


Vassar College and Johns Hopkins
each issued studies this January that criticized this TV show.
Professor William Hoynes of Vassar said, "Channel One is
essentially not educational television. It is a slick 12-minute
commercial." Other studies are equally as critical.


Much of what is presented is
age-inappropriate for its youthful audience. This spring, children
were told in one news report that a new drug survey shows that
half of their parents smoked marijuana and half of them expect
their kids to use drugs.


Children are encouraged every
show to visit www. channelone.com, their corporate website. Here
children are asked for inappropriate personal information. They
have a chat room where children can send anonymous messages to
each other, or possibly to child predators.


The website reviews R-rated movies
for children and asks the kids to send in their reviews of vulgar
movies like Def Jam’s How To Be A Player. Explicit content music
groups are promoted on the site for children of all ages. Currently,
they are featuring Bone Thugs and Harmony’s new obscenity-filled
CD.

Last year, all "Channel One students" had to sit in
their home rooms and listen to the satanic band Marilyn Manson.
That’s what happens when you sell your students.


The Alabama State Board of Education
in 1991 passed a resolution saying that selling classroom access
to companies like Channel One was "exploitation and a violation
of the public trust." Our current State Board has not addressed
Channel One’s exploitation.


Unlike previous State Superintendents,
Dr. Ed Richardson has yet to state publicly where he stands on
Channel One.


A contract with Channel One is
the exact opposite of "local control." A school system
abandons up to one hour a week of taxpayer-purchased time to
this Hollywood studio. No Alabamian has any input into this curriculum.



At a 1991 Senate hearing on Channel
One, California Superintendent of Education, Bill Honig said,
"Parents entrust their children to our public schools, ‘Channel
One’ is a commercial transaction that violates this trust. We
have no right – legally or ethically – to sell access to our
students by converting the educational purpose of school to a
commercial one, even if schools receive a modest benefit in return."


Channel One takes from Alabama
schools much more than it gives.


Channel One is usually shown
in homeroom period. Bucking the trend to reduce or eliminate
non-instructional time, "Channel One schools" have
to make homeroom 12 minutes longer than necessary to accommodate
this advertising company.


That’s costly. If we conservatively
assume it costs taxpayers $.06/minute to support one student
in school, then it costs $113 for one student to watch Channel
One the minimum number of days. Multiplying by a school’s total
enrollment results in a taxpayer nightmare.


Our State Board and Superintendent
have a responsibility to maintain public support for public education.
Like any misuse of money and time, this institutionalized waste
diminishes that support.

Ask your school if they have this TV show. If they do, ask them
to stop showing it. If your school is not going to pull the plug,
request copies of each show be made available to parents.


Also, Channel One says the show
is "specifically designed for teenagers." Demand your
school remove all pre-teens in 6th and 7th grade from compulsory
viewing.


By turning off Channel One, and
making homeroom 12 minutes shorter, we can add an extra week
of school instruction – without a child spending one extra minute
in school and without one extra penny of taxpayers’ money.


The new tougher exit exam will
be a breeze. <End>


FACE=”Arial”>September 20, 1997 – Call For Channel One Advertisers


Who are the national advertisers
on Channel One? If you are monitoring Channel One in your community
email Obligation with
the names of the products and services you see on the show. Parents
and other taxpayers need to know who the corporations are that
underwrite this controversial TV show. We will be adding a section
on this page that will have all the necessary information about
the advertisers. These sponsors have gotten a free ride for far
too long. We will use the same successful strategy as Obligation
used with local sponsors of "trash" talk shows in Birmingham.
We will address our letters and phone calls to the CEO of the
company advertising on Channel One and on their website, not
the VP of Marketing or their advertising agency.


A complaint to any one other
than the CEO is a waste of time and energy. It might accomplish
the desired result, but it would be rare. The CEOs of Channel
One’s national advertisers need to understand the legitimate
concerns of educators, students, parents, and taxpayers. Channel
One is a highly controversial TV show. The advertisers financially
underwrite it with their money. They shouldn’t buy a captive
audience of school children, and the public will let them know
that.


 


FACE=”Arial”>September 15, 1997 – Wall Street Journal Article
Channel One Taps Principals As Promoters


Obligation contributed information
for a superb article in the Wall Street Journal today. It centered
on one small part of the Channel One Problem: using principals
as lackeys for Channel One advertisers. Principals have handed
out Arizona jeans discount coupons and kept petitions for students
to sign for a Reebok promotion. Snapple, Pepsi, and Subway were
other companies that had promotions in "Channel One Schools."


Some of the more damaging statements
in this article were not from opponents of Channel One, but from
David Tanzer, Channel One president and Martin Grant, Sales Manager.


Educators, who are trying to
defend Channel One to upset and confused parents, can take no
comfort in hearing Mr. Grant say, "We have no audience erosion."
He was contrasting his captive audience of children to the broadcast
networks’ shrinking market of young viewers.


Or Mr. Tanzer bragging about
how business was booming. "We’re at a virtual (advertising)
sellout for the fall semester."


"Advertisers can really
hit a home run by involving our audience," says Mr. Grant.


The article ends with this: "Channel
One officials say that students and teachers benefit from such
promotional campaigns as well. ‘Teachers are so desperate to
make the lesson relevant that if they can get them interested
through a Reebok campaign, they’ll do it,’ Mr. Tanzer says."


Maybe not, Mr. Tanzer. Your statement
underestimates and demeans America’s teachers. You also show
the mind set of this controversial company. Desperate? Hurting?
No money for television equipment? Give us your students and
we’ll loan you what you need. This article shows the true Channel
One. Dead-serious marketers that can guarantee advertisers something
no network can – a captive audience – "with no erosion."


[Check this article out on page
B1 Monday, September 15, 1997 Wall Street Journal. Written by
William Bulkeley]


 


FACE=”Arial”>September 10, 1997 – So You Have Channel One in
Your School


Obligation has received calls
from Kansas to Florida, Minnesota to Massachusetts, asking for
information about Channel One. Our organization has been swamped,
and we again apologize for the length of time it has taken to
respond to calls and to get packets of information out.


If you have Channel One, this
would be a suggested course of action:


If you agree with most educational
organizations and believe that TV commercials have no place in
a schoolhouse, then write a letter to your school superintendent
and ask that Channel One be discontinued immediately. You do
not have to see the program. The content is irrelevant. This
is a well-reasoned approach to the Channel One problem. One never
really needs to see Channel One to realize it is pure and simple
exploitation of school children.


If you are more concerned with
content problems than with the principle of classroom commercialization,
then write a letter to the Superintendent asking for copies of
every Channel One episode be made available for parents to review
in their homes.


The Channel One broadcast on
a Monday is automatically erased by Channel One’s VCR early Tuesday
morning when Tuesday’s show arrives via satellite. This is curriculum
that is erased within 24 hours. If parents are to be able to
review it and analyze the show, it must be copied onto other
tapes.


It is clearly inadequate for
a school to merely allow parents to come to the school to see
the rebroadcast to the students. This discriminates against parents,
and other taxpayers, who cannot get to the school during the
day. Plus, there is no opportunity to dissect the show and to
replay it.


Channel One had no problem with
giving my school permission to make copies of Channel One for
parents to take home. In fact, Claudia Peters, Network Public
Affairs, said Channel One encourages such taping. "We are
proud of our broadcast," she told me.


Our suggestion is to donate at
least three blank tapes to the school and ask that all five daily
shows be copied onto one tape. The next week, you or others can
check the tape out and review the previous week’s content. Bring
the tape back in time for another week’s taping. This is the
way we discovered the editorial and commercial content problems
over the last year and a half.


Don’t accept "We don’t have
the time or personnel to make copies, but you’re free to come
to the library and see all the Channel One you want." The
broadcast is bounced off a satellite early every morning onto
the Channel One VCR. It is automatically recorded. No human lifts
a finger. Whenever the show is rebroadcast to the students, all
a person needs to do is put the blank tape in the other Channel
One VCR, or another connected VCR, and press "record".
Twelve minutes later, the "stop" button needs to pressed.
Someone has to be around the equipment anyway during the rebroadcast,
so you can see there is minimal inconvenience.


Hopefully, your school values
parental involvement and parental review of materials that are
part of the school’s curriculum. Whether Channel One is truly
"curriculum" or not, is insignificant. It is a required
part of a child’s day. It is being held out as educational. It
is undeniably controversial. A school therefore should bend over
backwards to distribute tapes of the program to the community.
It would be in the school board’s best interest to shift some
of the responsibility onto parents.


If your school refuses to make
tapes available to parents, you probably have a bigger problem
at your school than Channel One. I would suggest going to your
local newspaper, radio or TV station. TV stations are also hurt
by the "end-around" Channel One does with the commercials.
There is one established pipeline for TV commercials to reach
children, and the rest of us – network and cable television.
Channel One goes to national advertisers and says, "Your
local TV station in Birmingham or Cincinnati or St. Louis can’t
deliver the kids anymore. We can. Give us the money you would
have paid them and see the power of a captive audience."
I have found newspaper, radio, and television reporters like
to shine a light on anything that smells of someone being taken
advantage of. Even more so when children are involved.


If parents can’t see what their
children are seeing in school, then don’t call the cops – call
a journalist.


Many parents are concerned for
their child’s status at school. "Hey, your parents are trying
to get our TVs turned off at school!" This is valid concern.


There is a real simple way to
not only protect your child, but possibly make him or her a hero
at school. When I addressed my school board, I suggested that
the 12 minutes a day we gain from the unplugging of Channel One
be added to core curriculum classes or let the students out of
school 12 minutes early every day. Either way they are better
off than being forced to watch this Hollywood/Madison Avenue
advertising gimmick. Would kids vote to watch Channel One or
vote to have the bell ring 12 minutes early?


A poll taken at our middle school,
in 1995, showed 60% of students disliked Channel One. It would
be 99.9% if they knew a bunch of well-dressed and well-paid advertising
executives at 600 Madison Avenue had signed contracts keeping
them in school an hour longer than necessary every week.


The school board should be your
focus in your Channel One removal efforts. They are the ones
that don’t really know the controversy Channel One has always
carried. A previous school board, probably in the early ’90s
agreed to experiment with Channel One and then everyone forgot
about it. Your current school board should be given a pass as
far as blame goes. From my experience, most board members have
never heard of this TV show, even though they have required students
to lose 31 hours a year watching it.


Once the current board knows
about Channel One, then they are accountable. If they continue
requiring mandatory viewing then Channel One is "their baby."
You might want to get your school board attorney to publish a
formal opinion about the legality of converting taxpayer-purchased
school time into private profits. Can he or she tell Board Members
they have no liability if a parent complains of their child losing
weeks of learning time due to the Channel One contract? Or of
their child being exposed to ads for potentially dangerous Internet
chat rooms?


We’ll expand on this article
later. For now, tell them to turn it off, and if not, make copies
for you. Remember the significance of what you are doing when
you seek to remove Channel One from a school. Channel One requires
31 hours of viewing (minimum) per school year. That is equal
to one week of instruction. How could young lives change, if
they had that extra time for English or math?


Jim Metrock


 


FACE=”Arial”>August 28, 1997 – Letter Sent to Alabama State
Superintendent


Dr. Ed Richardson

State Superintendent of Education

State Department of Education

P. O. Box 302101

Montgomery, AL 36130-2101


Dear Dr. Richardson:


Obligation, Inc. requests a list
of all state public schools that have a contract that requires
the showing of the Channel One television show.


At present, there appears to
be no accounting, at the state level, for the number of students
who are compelled to watch this TV show during school.


Knowing which schools in Alabama
require Channel One viewing is important information that could
aid state legislators and state agencies in their consideration
of this use of public school time. It will greatly help our organization
as we seek to begin a legitimate statewide public discussion
about the commercialization of our public schools.


If there is no legal requirement
for reporting, then we urge you to seek a voluntary response
from schools.


We believe this request is reasonable
and can be accomplished with the minimum amount of expense. An
entry-level staff person calling each of the school systems and
asking which schools in their system are contractually obligated
to Channel One would take about three hours. Or an extra page
can be added to your routine faxes to school systems.


Alabama taxpayers are subsidizing
this advertising delivery system called Channel One. The people
of our state need to know how large the problem is.


We appreciate your office’s attention
to this request.


Much Obliged,


Jim Metrock

President


 


FACE=”Gill Sans Light”>August 15, 1997 – Channel One Criticized for R-Rated
Movie Reviews – Children Asked to Review Def Jam’s Sleaze




FACE=”Gill Sans Light”>August 6, 1997 – Press Release – School Boards
Urged to Turn Channel One Off


FACE=”Gill Sans Light”>May 15, 1997 – Information Sheet- A Math Exercise
For Vestavia Hills Parents


FACE=”Gill Sans Light”>April 16, 1997 – Alabama Child
Advocacy Group to Present Channel One Info at
State PTA Convention
FACE=”Arial”>


FACE=”Gill Sans Light”>March 20, 1997
– Channel One Ad Promotes Most Violent Network Show


FACE=”Gill Sans Light”>February 5, 1997 – Speech Given to All Alabama
Superintendents of Education


 


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