National PTA Opposes BusRadio

October 5, 2006
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From the National PTA Newsletter (September 19, 2006).

 

Children’s Advocates Ask Companies Not to Advertise on BusRadio or Channel One

On Thursday, September 14, National PTA joined more than 100 organizations and children’s advocates in sending a letter to the 100 leading national advertisers and the top 50 advertising agencies, requesting that they pledge not to advertise on BusRadio or Channel One. Channel One and BusRadio compel schoolchildren to watch or listen to advertising as a condition of their schools’ receiving financial assistance from the companies. The letter from children’s advocates to advertisers is the first step in a new campaign to remove Channel One and BusRadio from every school in the United States.

Channel One is a marketing company and television show that delivers news and advertising to children in schools. Channel One provides schools with VCRs and TVs for each classroom, as well as a satellite dish that can pick up only Channel One’s signals. In return, schools must play the daily “news” shows from Channel One on a majority of school days in a majority of classrooms. The programs must be shown in their entirety, including the commercials, the vast majority of which are for junk foods, sodas, and sports drinks. School can also receive several hours of documentaries that contain no commercials.

BusRadio is a new product that plays a combination of music, advertising, and contests on school buses. Each hour of radio programming includes eight minutes of advertising and two minutes of contests. BusRadio’s contracts with school districts do not specify any guidelines regarding advertised products; there is nothing to prohibit the advertising of junk foods, sodas, or any other objectionable products or services. In addition, school districts have no control over what music is played on the buses. BusRadio has started operations in Massachusetts and plans to expand across the country this school year.

National PTA opposes the exploitation of students through commercial operations that require students to view advertising or to study specific instructional programs as a condition of the school’s receiving a donation of money or a donation or loan of equipment. National PTA has previously taken positions against Channel One and has sought its removal from schools, and now joins with other children’s advocates to oppose BusRadio as well. With BusRadio installed on school buses, parents will not be able to exercise any type of control over their children’s exposure. Parents cannot opt out of having their children hear what’s playing throughout the school bus. Furthermore, children as young as 6 years old will hear the BusRadio programming, even though BusRadio boasts that it will “take targeted student marketing to the next level” and that it gives advertisers “a unique and effective way to reach the highly sought after teen and tween market.”