Judy Harris

March 15, 2005
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PRIMEDIA press release:

PRIMEDIA
Names Judy L. Harris President & Chief Executive Officer of Channel One

NEW YORK, NY (March 09, 2005) — PRIMEDIA, Inc. (PRM)

The country’s leading targeted media company, today announced the appointment of Judy L. Harris as President & Chief Executive Officer of Channel One, the largest source of news and information for young people reaching nearly 8 million teens in more than 400,000 classrooms across America. Ms. Harris comes to Channel One from PBS where she was most recently Executive Vice President of PBS businesses, responsible for revenue generation in the consumer and educational markets. She succeeds Jim Ritts, who announced last year that he would be leaving the organization during the second quarter of 2005.

“We are very excited to bring Judy on to lead our already strong Channel One team. Her passion, dedication to education and track record of revenue growth make her a perfect fit for this role. Throughout her career she has been a pioneer of educational-based marketing, branding and business development for brand entities such as PBS, Discovery, Hallmark and Crayola. Her strength lies in her ability to create revenue opportunities in the consumer and educational marketplace through partnerships, alliances and brand extensions,” said Kelly P. Conlin, President and CEO of PRIMEDIA Inc.

In her role at PBS, she was focused on growing strategic partnerships, new revenue streams and developing ancillary revenues from PBS content libraries. Prior to her years at PBS, she was Senior Vice President & General Manager of Consumer and Educational Products for Discovery Communications Inc. In that role, Ms. Harris was charged with implementing global plans for educational products, home video, publishing, merchandise licensing and international product sales and marketing.

While Vice President of Corporate Development at Binney & Smith (Crayola) a Hallmark Inc. company, Ms. Harris helped to extend the Crayola brand in the consumer and educational marketplaces.

“Channel One is a market leader and an innovator in educational news and public affairs programming for the classroom. I am thrilled to take on this role and bring my experience and track record of success in blending both traditional media and digital media with new approaches that can benefit the educational process and help grow the company,” said Ms. Harris.

Channel One Network is the largest source of news and public affairs information for young people. Channel One News reaches nearly 8 million teens in over 400,000 classrooms across America and features stories on breaking news and in-depth issues that affect the world, the nation and specifically, America’s teenagers. Since its first broadcast in 1990, Channel One News has garnered more than 150 news and educational programming honors, including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award.

Four years ago, Ms. Harris said this as she left Discovery Communications for PBS:  ” As a longtime devotee of PBS programming, I am delighted to join Pat Mitchell’s management team,” said Ms. Harris, who served on the board of directors of PBS member station WLVT/Bethlehem, PA, in 1998-99. “I look forward to working with my new colleagues at PBS and its member stations to help secure the resources they need to serve the public in the digital age.”

From Jim Metrock: I was on a trip to Japan last week when Channel One’s parent company announced the hiring of a new president to replace Jim Ritts. There isn’t much information on the web about Ms. Harris. I can’t find one instance of her photograph being on the web. She is not an educator. She is not a journalist. Once again, Channel One News is headed by a marketing person.

She appears to have skills at generating new revenue streams for older brands like Crayola. Her mission at Channel One News is apparently not to make the show and web site less offensive, but to kick-start revenue growth. This is a major error on Channel One’s part. They never learn.

I have written PRIMEDIA’s Beverly Chell and Judy Harris and asked for them to meet with me and other critics of Channel One. I believe it is important for the public to know what Ms. Harris intends to do with the company. It is also in her interest to listen to those opposed to her company. There has been no reply, but it is early.

From an article on the web, Ms. Harris lives in Maryland. I wonder if she is going to move her family to New York CIty. If she is staying put and merely working in NYC on the weekdays and coming home on the weekends, that may be an indication that she is unsure of Channel One’s survival.

One can surmise that Ms. Harris is being paid a large amount of money. Channel One would have to pay a person a lot of money to sign up for a job that could kill a career.

Alas, poor Jim Ritts, we didn’t know him very well. He has had a tough couple of years. He was asked to leave Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) in early 2000. He back came to Channel One, where he had worked before when it was being launched around 1990. During his five year reign, Channel One News made mistake after mistake. On his watch, the audience shrank and advertisers disappeared.

Poor Jim Ritts is having a bad century. That’s not a good thing.

At least he is walking away from the nightmare Channel One has become. Poor Judy Harris. If she had just spent a little time researching Channel One, she might have said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

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