Date of Release:
July 30, 2008
Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh<at>commercialfreechildhood.org)
For Immediate Release
Advocates to Channel One: Stop Marketing Prescription Drugs to Children
Advocates for children are demanding that Alloy Media and Marketing immediately remove ads for prescription drugs from its Channel One website. Channel One, the controversial in-school news program that makes viewing ads a compulsory part of the school day for grades six through twelve, was purchased by Alloy in 2007. As part of its user agreement with schools, Channel One has pledged not to market prescription drugs to its young audience. Yet ads for the prescription acne medications Differin and BenzaClin have been running on the Channel One website for at least the past week.
“Alloy is taking Channel One to a new low by peddling prescription drugs to children,” said Dr. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “The company that has done more than any other to commercialize classrooms is now delivering young students to the pharmaceutical industry.”
The ads were spotted on channelone.com on July 20, 2008 by Jim Metrock of Obligation, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy organization that monitors Channel One. Because the ads clearly violate Channel One’s advertising policy, Metrock contacted Paul Folkemer, Senior Vice-President and Director of Education at Channel One Network and Matt Diamond, Chief Executive Office of Alloy Media and Marketing, to demand that the ads be removed. Neither Folkemer nor Diamond has responded. On July 22, Obligation, Inc. filed a complaint against Channel One with the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU). CARU guidelines state that advertisers should not advertise drugs to children.
“There has never been a better time for schools to pull the plug on Channel One,” said Metrock. “There is simply no reason for schools to deliver a captive audience of students to a company like Alloy that violates its own meager advertising policy and advertising industry standards.”
One of Channel One’s drug ads links to Acneheroes.com, a kid-targeted website created by the pharmaceutical company sanofi-aventis to promote BenzaClin, a prescription drug for acne. The website features actor Cody Linley, who introduces himself as one of the stars of Hannah Montana, which airs on the Disney channel and is among the most popular television programs for children.
“It’s outrageous that Alloy is abetting a pharmaceutical company’s cynical exploitation of children by linking a popular program like Hannah Montana to a branded prescription drug,” said Dr. Linn.
For Dr. Victor Strasburger, Professor of Pediatrics at University of New Mexico School of Medicine, the Channel One ads are part of a disturbing trend in which children are targeted with ads that tout drugs as the answer to life’s problems. “If we want kids to 'just say no' to drugs, how can we possibly beam ads at them for prescription drugs?” asked Dr. Strasburger. “Early on, they get the clear message: there's a drug for every problem we have."