March 7, 2002

When Channel
One’s obituary is written, March 6, 2002 will surely be mentioned. Yesterday,
after the second and last block of commercials, Channel One reporters did
an extended commercial for Cingular Wireless cell phones – during the supposedly
non-commercial part of the TV show.

Obligation’s Jim Metrock said, "This is a shocker. To see the news
reporters basically putting on a sandwich board and pushing a product during
the ‘news’ portion of the show is a violation not only of the two-minute
ad limit in the contract with schools but a violation of even the lowest
journalistic standards."

Channel One has removed their March 6 program script from
Metrock said, "They are trying to erase evidence of their misdeeds.
Obligation urges Channel One’s president, Jim Ritts, to restore the March
6 program script so the public can evaluate this new expansion of advertising."

The decision to advertise cell phones to children down to age ten will
surely upset parents. Cell phones are not allowed in the vast majority
of America’s secondary schools. The advertising of cell phones during class
time raises a host of issues that are best dealt with at the local school
board level.

Metrock said, "The executive producer, Jim Morris, and program vice
president, Morgan Wandell, should resign or be moved into other roles at
Channel One. Morris especially knows better than to mix advertising with
editorial content. Any news producer who did what Morris and Wandell did
would be summarily fired at a legitimate news organization."

The two Channel One anchors who violated journalistic standards were Derrick
Shore and Janet Choi. They urged children watching them to answer a question
at sponsored by Cingular cell phones. They said that Cingular
would give a free cell phone away to someone who participated in poll.
This was a tease to get kids to the web site not only for the benefit of
Cingular, which had a direct link from Channel One’s site but also for
other Channel One web advertisers like Nintendo and Inside Stuff magazine.

"Derrick Shore and Janet Choi traded on their popularity with kids
to market expensive cell phones," Metrock said. "This is another
new low for Channel One. Schools should consider the Channel One contract
a sham. They promised no more than two minutes of advertising and now it
is a ‘minimum of two minutes’ of advertising."