For nearly 25 years, Channel One News has been the nation’s most pernicious in-school advertiser, usurping taxpayer-funded class time by showing student-targeted commercials to a captive audience of schoolchildren. But there are signs that Channel One’s days may be numbered. Many schools have dumped the network and its student audience has shrunk from 8.1 million in 2000 to 5.5 million today. But that’s 5.5 million too many. And now, in a desperate attempt to make up for lost revenue, Channel One is escalating its daily commercial assault by advertising inappropriate and disreputable websites to students and turning entire broadcasts into ads. That’s why CCFC is calling on state departments of education to conduct a thorough review of the costs and benefits of showing Channel One News in school and to encourage local districts to suspend its use until such a review is complete.
This week, CCFC sent a letter to state school superintendents detailing the reasons why Channel One should not be shown in schools, including:
- It’s waste of students’ time and taxpayers’ money. In exchange for the loan of outdated video equipment, schools agree to show a 12-minute newscast – including 2 minutes of commercials – every day. Schools with Channel One lose more than a week of instructional time each year, including a full day just to the commercials!
- Channel One violates its contract with schools by exceeding the agreed-upon limit on commercial content. In addition to regular commercials, Channel One integrates advertising into its actual newscast. For instance, on May 23, 2012, Channel One’s entire 12-minute broadcast was devoted to promoting four television shows on the ABC Family network.
- Channel One promotes websites that are inappropriate for children and teens, including the highly sexualized gURL.com; Live Psychic Readings, which charges $7.49/minute; and the controversial website Spokeo.com, which was fined $800,000 by the Federal Trade Commission in June for the misuse and sale of personal data.
If state education departments investigate and publicize what Channel One is doing in classrooms and on its student-targeted website, it’s likely that educators will pull the plug. But they will only act if there is significant pressure to do so. Will you urge your state to investigate Channel One and help us put an end to the worst-of-the-worst in in-school advertising?
Please take action here and urge your friends and family to do the same.