Jefferson County’s Answer to Channel One Problem: Breach the Contract

September 25, 1998
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[September 25, 1998] Birmingham,
AL – Jefferson County is allowing Channel One back into their
classrooms but in doing so is violating their contract with the
controversial company.

Jim Metrock is president of Obligation, Inc., a child-advocacy
group.that opposes Channel One’s controversial program in public
school classrooms. He said, "Dr. Bruce Wright is not only
thumbing his nose at Jefferson County parents by allowing this
advertising gimmick back into Jefferson County schools this Monday,
but is also thumbing his nose at Channel One.’


The Channel One contract that
Jefferson County has signed requires the county to guarantee
80% of classrooms show Channel One. It also requires the county
to broadcast Channel One 90% of all school days.


"Dr. Wright didn’t mention
the contract terms to the principals in the email his office
sent out resuming Channel One’s mandatory broadcasts. He is openly
breaching the contract. This is totally opposite the proper and
legal way that Shelby County handled the Channel One problem."


"Obligation is adamantly
opposed to a school system breaching a contract, especially a
major contract like Channel One’s. That diminishes public education.
We urge systems to end their Channel One contract which they
can do at any time," said Metrock.


"Shelby County’s decision
was made by their board of education. Dr. Wright bypassed his
board. At least one board member expressed serious concerns about
Channel One. Dr. Wright appointed a committee to approve or not
approve of his well-publicized support for Channel One. Well,
guess what? The committee gave their superintendent a big ‘OK’.
That arrangement did not serve the parents of Jefferson County
schoolchildren," said Metrock.


"It is my understanding
that the review committee didn’t even take the time to investigate
the commercial-free and well-respected alternative to Channel
One called ‘CNN Newsroom’ created especially for teenagers that
is in 30,000 classrooms across the county."


Metrock said, "This committee
didn’t even recommend that Jefferson County parents be given
an opportunity to give written permission for their child to
watch this controversial show which will take up 31 school hours.
This committee short-changed parents."


Metrock said, "I am afraid
this great school system, in which I was educated, is opening
itself up to a future of lawsuits from parents. What happens
when a student can’t pass the new tough exit exam. Can that student’s
parents prove their child has been injured by being required
to sacrifice a week of school each year to watch this educationally-unsound
infotainment show?"


Most of Channel One’s controversial
material has been on its in-school TV show. Such as: advertisements
for "Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’" which was rated
the same as ‘NYPD-Blue’, questionable PG-13 movies such as ‘Down
Periscope’ and ‘The Quest’, news reports that tell children their
half their parents used marijuana when they were young. The Channel
One web site received condemnation recently for its reviews of
R-rated movies and stories encouraging children to cheat on book
reports.


Channel One said they would clean
up their act and they discontinued all web advertising, the Channel
One message boards, and the chat rooms.


"You can’t trust this company,"
said Metrock. "Two weeks ago, advertising was returned to
the Channel One web site, last week the message boards came back
on, and yesterday the Channel One lobbyist told Dr. Richardson
at the State Board work session in Montgomery that the Channel
One chat rooms are back on their web site. They promise this
time that they will look after the interest of children. Baloney.
Children are simply a source of money for this company. Channel
One will continue to break promises, just as Dr. Wright is breaking
his contractual promise to Channel One."


Channel One News 212-508-6800

Dr. Bruce Wright, Jefferson County Superintendent 930-3800

Evan Major, Shelby County Superintendent, 669-5600


Background information and examples
of Channel One’s "mistakes" can be reviewed at our
web site: www.obligation.org