“balanced out”

December 16, 2005

In a recent web article, Channel One’s CEO Judy Harris responded to questions about Channel One’s long history of advertising junk food and soft drinks to students.

She said junk food ads that Channel One continues to run are “balanced out” by feature stories about healthy eating and living.

From the Parents Action web article:

“Last year McDonalds stopped running ads, as did soft drink and most candy manufacturers. There continue to be ads, however, for Frito-Lay’s Doritos, Wrigley Juicyfruit and Hubba Bubba gums, and Gatorade, a sodium-laden sports drink.

“Channel One’s CEO, Judy Harris, dismisses the notion that Metrock’s efforts have had a negative effect on Channel One. The network, she says, won a Peabody Award for its coverage of the humanitarian crisis in Sudan in April; the few junk food ads aired lately have been ‘balanced out’ by “healthy lifestyle minutes” that educate kids about healthy snacks and exercise; and, she says, with school budgets being cut, Channel One is, in most cases, ‘the only journalism kids get.'”

Obligation’s Jim Metrock said, “This is a peek into the mind of this marketing genius that is now running Channel One News. She actually believes it is ‘OK’ to continue advertising junk food and junk drinks to students, many who are struggling with weight and health issues, as long as she runs some stories that feature someone telling young people to eat right and get more exercise. It sounds to me like ‘It’s OK to punch a child in the stomach as long as you give him or her a hug afterwards.’ I know why Ms. Harris and Channel One have refused to promise to stop advertising junk food. She doesn’t see it as a problem. She sees it as a ‘balancing act.’ To many, Ms. Harris may sound callous, but she wasn’t hired to be popular. She wasn’t hired to make students healthier or smarter. She was hired to save Channel One News and she isn’t doing very well.”

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