Channel One Suffers Major Setback In Alabama

February 10, 2005

A routine reporting of a student health committee report turned into a big victory for supporters of commercial-free classrooms.

The Alabama State Board of Education passed amended language to a committee report that calls for Channel One to “refrain from advertising high-sugar, high-fat, low-nutritional food and drink products, over-the-counter medicines, and movies that receive a MPAA rating for sexual, violent, alcohol or drug content.”

The vote was 5-1 with one abstaining. It was a stunning victory for those concerned with Channel One’s commercial exploitation of schoolchildren.

The state’s most prominent trial lawyer, Jere Beasley, addressed the Board, “I am totally opposed to Channel One and am convinced that it has no place in the public schools of our State. I have grandchildren in public schools and I don’t want them exposed to what I have seen from Channel One.”

John Giles, president of the Christian Coalition, spoke before the board and said he was concerned about the negative influence Channel One News and its web site have on Alabama schoolchildren.

Alabama Eagle Forum members also spoke out against the firm’s presence in Alabama schools.

Randy McKinney, a SBOE member from Gulf Shores, told the audience that he was one of the four or five members who have taken money from Channel One’s lobbyist, Martin Christie. He said it was given to him because of another connection he had with Christie, but because it looked bad, he was going to return his campaign contribution.

McKinney then introduced amended language that uses the word “refrain” instead of the earlier voted down “prohibit.” The Board liked that change and voted overwhelming for it. A special thanks to Stephanie Bell who wrote the original language and Betty Peters who offered the original amendment.

This is the final language approved by the Board:

“The State Board of Education recommends that Channel One refrain from advertising high-sugar, high-fat, or low nutritional value food or drink products, over-the-counter medicines, or movies and television shows that receive a MPAA rating for sexual, violent, or drug content. The Channel One web site and any recommended links on the Channel One web site are included. Monitoring shall be the responsibility of local school personnel, parents, and Channel One.”

Obligation’s Jim Metrock said, “This is a great day in Alabama. Our State Board of Education has called Channel One to be more responsible in its advertising. There is no penalty in the language, the monitoring is left up to local school systems, and there is no call for the removal of Channel One from Alabama schools, but this could be a mortal blow depending upon how they react. If Channel One agrees to refrain from advertising these products and movies, then they will enhance their standing with schools and the public. If they fight these reasonable requests and if they violate them, then they risk earning the wrath of this Board. It is up to them. Knowing them like I do, I can’t see them beginning to do the right thing. Hopefully, other states will read what this Board has done and follow suit.”

Metrock continued, “Our state is indebted to Eunie Smith and her wonderful Alabama Eagle Forum members. The Eagle Forum has been fearless fighters for commercial-free classrooms for years. Also my friend Jere Beasley has helped raise the Channel One issue up to a place, and to a different audience, that Obligation has been unsuccessful in taking it. When he talks, people listen. They did yesterday.”


Jim Metrock’s remarks before the Alabama State Board of Education Feb.10, 2005

Channel One is deeply concerned with what this Board might do.

You scare them.

That is why Channel One’s CEO Jim Ritts flew down to meet with Governor Riley. That is why Channel One’s lobbyist Martin Christie has directed campaign contributions to at least four of you. Mr. Christie believes he can buy this Board. I know most of you and I know he is throwing Channel One’s money away.

You will do what is in the best interest of our schoolchildren. And today is an opportunity to do just that.

I hope you will take the modest and reasonable steps of adding language to this health committee report that will restrict classroom commercials for junk food,  over-the-counter medicines,  and movies that receive a rating based on sexual, violent, alcohol or drug content.

Some examples from last year, Channel One ran ad after ad for Rollitos (small 8 oz. bag 1100 calories 64 grams of fat).

Channel One’s web site advertised Buzz Bites. The size of a miniature toosie roll they contain 100 mg. of caffeine.

The advertising industry bans medications from being aimed at children under 12. Channel One was caught violating that ban when they advertised the powerful 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Zapzyt medicine to Alabama middle schools.

Snoop Dogg, a notorious drug-user, makes a drug joke on the classroom commercial to promote the raunchy remake of Starsky & Hutch a movie that glorifies cocaine use.

These hurt our children. Local boards don’t know what you know.

Channel One doesn’t’t want ANY limitations put on them except the ones they place on themselves.

Seeing that in the year 2000, Alabama pediatricians called for the ending of all classroom commercials, putting modest restrictions on what Channel One advertises to a captive audience of impressionable young people is a minimal and prudent thing for this Board to consider.

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