August 2011

School's Out For Channel One: Tell Kmart to Stop Stealing Class Time; Tell Big Food CEOs: Stop Sabotaging Guidelines That Protect Children's Health; Currently in the CCFC Blog; New Study Finds Links Between Commercial Characters and Nagging; Book Review: Childhood Under Seige by Joel Bakan

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In this issue:

  • School's Out For Channel One: Tell Kmart to Stop Stealing Class Time
  • Tell Big Food CEOs: Stop Sabotaging Guidelines That Protect Children's Health
  • Currently in the CCFC Blog
  • New Study Finds Links Between Commercial Characters and Nagging
  • Book Review:  Childhood Under Seige by Joel Bakan

School’s Out For Channel One: Tell Kmart to Stop Stealing Class Time.

It’s back-to-school time and that means compulsory commercials for millions of kids. For more than 20 years, Channel One News has been forcing students to watch a 12-minute daily “newscast” (many of the stories are actually fluff pieces promoting music or movies) that includes 2 minutes of commercials.  Schools showing Channel One lose a full week of taxpayer-funded instructional time each school year to the broadcasts.  A full day is lost to just to the commercials. 

That’s why we’ve launched “School’s Out for Channel One,” a campaign to put an end to mandatory ad-viewing in schools. All year, we’ll be urging schools and advertisers to walk away from the notorious in-school marketer.  Kmart, which is advertising its back-to-school clothing lines on Channel One this fall. If we convince Kmart to pull its ads—and demonstrate that advertising on Channel One is bad for business—other brands are sure to take notice and we can end Channel One’s reign in schools. Click here to send a letter to Kmart or learn more about this campaign here.

Tell Big Food CEOs: Stop Sabotaging Guidelines That Protect Children's Health

The food and advertising industries are aggressively lobbying Congress to kill proposed voluntary guidelines for marketing to children. They’ve hired high-powered lobbyists; flown in company CEOs to meet with the White House and agency leaders; and trumpeted a bogus study predicting economic disaster if the voluntary standards are adopted.

The guidelines are far from perfect—real regulation with enforcement mechanisms is the best way to improve the food environment for children—but they represent an important step. The science-based guidelines the government agencies have proposed are a significant improvement from the food industry’s own self-serving standards. That’s why we’re telling Big Food to stop the scare tactics and the delays. Please click here to send an email to food industry CEO’s. And to read CCFC’s comments about the proposed comments, please visit

Currently in the CCFC Blog:

Plus: What do college essays have to do with the commercialization of childhood and The Real Problem With Breast Milk Baby.   All this and more at

New Study Finds Link Between Commercial Characters and Nagging

Marketers have long recognized and cultivated the profitability inherent in children’s nagging. Now, researchers at John Hopkins School of Public Health have found that children are who are familiar with commercial characters like SpongeBob or Disney Princesses are more likely to nag their parents – and nag for junk food. Mothers in the study cited packaging, characters, and commercials as the three main forces compelling their children to nag. 

Dina Borzekowski, the study’s lead author, concludes, "To address childhood obesity, it may be necessary to limit the amount of food and beverage advertising shown on commercial television and other media, as this may lessen children’s nagging for unhealthy items.” For more on the study, visit

Book Review:  Childhood Under Seige by Joel Bakan

Joel Bakan’s first book, The Corporation, which inspired a film by the same name, is a wonderful look at what kind of a person a corporation would be if a corporation were a person. Given that corporations increasingly claim personhood, it’s a fair question.  His conclusion? A psychopath.

In his new book Childhood Under Seige: How Big Business Targets Children, Bakan looks specifically at corporate influences on children. And it’s not pretty. He delves into child targeted advertising, child labor, psychotropic drugs for kids, and the corporatization of public education, showing in painful detail exactly how harmful it is for powerful entities whose sole raison d’etre is profit, to have so much control and influence over the health and wellbeing of society’s most precious, and most vulnerable, resource.

Of particular interest to us are his interviews with two child-marketing gurus: James McNeal, author of The Kids Market: Myths and Realities, and Martin Lindstrom, author of Brand Child: Remarkable Insights into the Minds of Today's Global Kids & Their Relationships with Brands. Each professes outrage at the state of marketing to children today and the harms it is doing to them. McNeal now believes that targeting children is "injurious to children and their parents. . . . Too may children are taking risks, getting fat, becoming unhealthy, not studying enough, not sleeping enough, and, in general, endangering themselves through overconsumption.” Adds Lindstrom, children’s exposure to marketing is a “disaster in terms of kids and their futures.” (As Bakan points out, Lindstrom’s beliefs are somewhat puzzling given his continued involvement in the industry.

Childhood Under Seige can be painful reading sometimes, but is an important book for anyone who cares about children and our future.