Channel One sets new course.

July 2, 2013
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channel one new course 1996

From Jim Metrock:

This is one of my favorite articles. I clipped it out of Advertising Age magazine way back in 1996.

Heidi Diamond was just hired by Channel One News to help take the kiddie marketing company to new heights. In 1996, Channel One was making so much money it was obscene. Forbes magazine reported that the company was selling 30-second commercials on their classroom TV show for over $250,000 – an astonishing amount.

Ms. Diamond was quoted saying, “The first order of business is to define the brand.” Channel One executives wanted their company to be like MTV. They believed their brand had the potential to have great value. Their dream was to have young people, wearing clothes with a Channel One logo, going to the movie theater to see a Channel One-produced movie.  It was never to be, and I am glad I was a part of ruining Ms. Diamond’s and Channel One’s kiddie  marketing dreams.

Ms. Diamond’s timing was not good. The same time Ms. Diamond started work at Channel One was when Mrs. Pat Ellis of Jasper, AL called me after reading an article about my work in getting advertisers in Alabama to remove their commercials from the trashy TV talk shows that dominated daytime television at the time.  She said she wanted to help me in this effort. We met for lunch and she brought with her a thick folder.  She asked me if I had ever heard of “Channel One News.” I said I think it is shown in schools. That is all I knew even though I later found out my two teenage boys had been required to watch it for years.

Ms. Ellis had single-handedly removed Channel One from her Jasper City schools the previous year.  The folder contained information about Channel One.  I said I would look it over and I did.

That very night I went through the folder and could not believe something like Channel One existed in any public school.  The idea that a school would turn over one hour of school time each week to this New York marketing company was unbelievable, but what floored me even more was that Channel One News had commercials.

How could any school administrator or teacher allow precious school time to be wasted on content solely determined by an out-of-state youth marketing company? How could any public school allow private companies to usurp taxpayer-funded school time to sell students Pepsi, Snickers, and M&Ms (the big advertisers in 1996) or any product?

While Ms. Diamond and Company were plotting the advancement of Channel One’s brand, Ms. Ellis and I agreed that the first order of business for Obligation was to “kill the (Channel One) brand.”  Which we did within a few years.

Obligation began a nationwide effort to get reporters to write articles about the controversial Channel One News contract with schools. All of a sudden the controversy that surrounded the company in the first years of its existence was back. Channel One was unprepared for Obligation’s relentless efforts to drag them into the sunshine of public scrutiny. In less than two years Heidi Diamond was gone from Channel One.  Sales VP Martin Grant too saw the handwriting on the wall and he jumped ship after three years.

Obligation’s efforts to expose Channel One paid off in 1999.

A May 1999 Senate Education subcommittee hearing on the Channel One controversy was the result of Obligation’s efforts. Channel One tried frantically to stop the hearing and in doing so did some very unethical things in the state of Alabama as reported by The New Republic.  Channel One failed in their efforts to stop the hearing and came out of the hearing with a badly damaged “brand.”

The very next month, in Atlanta, Georgia, the brand died.

For months in early 1999 Obligation had been suppling information about Channel One News to the delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.  We supplied them tapes of Channel One’s advertising that were truly repulsive. These included ads for movies with sexual, violent, and drug content that Channel One News was regularly dumping on middle school students. They saw Channel One News commercials for junk food that was harming the health of American schoolchildren.

In June, 1999 the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Atlanta overwhelmingly passed a resolution urging schools to remove Channel One from all schools.

Oh,today the company still lingers around, but it is a shell of its former self. When Heidi Diamond was at Channel One their audience was over 8 million.  Today it is 4 million-something. Schools disregard the viewing requirements of Channel One’s contract and treat it like the sham contract it is, and therefore advertising rates are a small fraction of what they were in 1996. And therefore instead of having 8 on-air personalities, they can only have 3.

Now in the summer of 2013 the American public is being told that Channel One News… wait for it… is setting a… new course. Good grief, don’t these greedy kiddie marketers ever give up?!

There are two new voices at Channel One brimming with excitement about a New Channel One: CEO Ms. C.J. Kettler and Director of Communications Ms. Alex Honeysett. They spout the appropriate buzzwords and catchy catch phrases one would expect from such people. Yet it all signifies very little, maybe even nothing, because there is little to nothing left at Channel One.

The company is fried. Their captive audience isn’t captive anymore. Their brand is dead. The advertisers have scattered.  The cash flow can’t be looking good. And on top of that the company is owned by Alloy Media and Marketing (Gurl.com and Channel One News are sister companies owned by Alloy. Channel One has advertised Gurl.com to students.) who is in turn owned by ZelnickMedia makers of the ultra-violent Grand Theft Auto video game. A distasteful company is owned by a distasteful company that is owned by a distasteful company. In 2013 there is nothing tasteful about the Channel One situation.

The fall of Channel One began in 1996. It has been a steady down hill course since then.

All of this leads to the catch phrase: Game over.

 

 

The history of Channel One News in two pictures.

 

Channel One continues to lose schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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