Parents Object To Channel One News In Indiana

January 9, 2003
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Parents Object To Commercials In School

JANUARY 8, 2003

BY MATTHEW WEIGELT, Times-Union Staff Writer

NORTH MANCHESTER –The commercials shown on Channel One, a current-events news program geared to a middle school-age audience, disturbed several parents who took issue Tuesday with its addition into the junior high school.

Manchester Community Schools School Board tabled the controversial decision, upholding a recent policy to allow comments from board patrons before voting on major decisions.

For no charge, Channel One will install the networking equipment and 19-inch television sets in each classroom, Manchester Junior High School principal Randy Gratz said. The monitors will be upgraded to 27-inch sets in 2004.

He estimated a $15,000 to $20,000 savings. The network can be used for other purposes in the schools, he said.

The school must commit to the news program for a year, Gratz said. And students must watch the 12-minute program 90 percent of the year’s school days.

But the commercials being shown to a “captive audience” of teenagers dissuaded parents from accepting the program. Some students are barred from viewing television based on religious tenets.

Greg Clark, who does not allow commercial television at home, objected to the PG-13 movie promotions and what he considered violent and vulgar public service announcements.

The program aired to the school board yesterday showed three commercials: for a car company, a video game and the U.S. Army.

Clark said he found no positive impact from the program in his research. “I already have problems with Channel One,” he said.

The students in the “encapsulated community” of North Manchester would benefit from the news content, parent Debbie Chinworth said. But she disapproved of the junk food commercials.

“I think our kids are in front of the TV too much,” she said. Physician Pam Higgins agreed.

Despite Gratz saying children can ignore the commercials, Manchester College communication professor Dr. Mary P. Lahman said, “If (a medium) is not hitting you on one level, it is on another.”

The program would be played during the 26-minute homeroom period and periodically in social studies classes, he said.

Gratz listed as benefits a professional, student-oriented news program and an added means of instructing students on current events.

The technology that comes with Channel One outweighs the two minutes of commercials, he said after the meeting.
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http://www.timeswrsw.com/N0108032.HTM (Thanks to Ken McNatt.)

From Jim Metrock: This principal has done little critical thinking about Channel One. First, he is very quick to trade away the school time of other people’s children so he doesn’t have to acquire the TV equipment. Second, he believes that kids can ignore the commercials that he, the principal, is making sure are put in front of their faces virtually every school day. Is Mr. Gratz capable of ignoring commercials?

It sounds like the principal has fallen totally for this con game. He is just spewing forth lines from Channel One sales literature. He hasn’t thought about the ethics of selling access to the students in his charge. Hopefully, this community will give him some "quiet time" in a corner, with a calculator, to figure out that this is one bad deal for his school. Another story from Indiana.