CCFC’s New and Improved Website; No School Bus Ads in South Carolina!; CCFC to the FCC: Protect Children from Embedded Advertising; More on Bratz and Scholastic; BusRadio and 90210: An Update; Two Important New Reports: School Commercialism and Alcohol Marketing; Democratic and Republican Platforms Choose Corporate Interests over Childhood
We’ve improved our website and added more tools for parents, educators, and healthcare professionals. Among the new features:
- Issues pages organized around topics such as childhood obesity, media violence, sexualization, school commercialism and more. Each page includes an introduction to the issue, recommended readings, and links to organizations and campaigns.
- New fact sheets on topics ranging from marketing to babies to family stress and materialism. The perfect resource to download and share with family, friends, or your local PTA.
- Resources for reclaiming childhood from corporate marketers.
Plus, the most complete archive of news about the commercialization of childhood on the web, CCFC history and highlights, and local events with CCFC staff and Steering Committee members. All at http://commercialfreechildhood.org; let us know what you think!
On September 10th, South Carolina became the first state to prohibit all forms of advertising on school buses when the state Board of Education voted 13-2 in favor of a ban. The Board’s decision means that there will be no ads on the inside or exterior of school buses. It also a stinging defeat for BusRadio—the company that wants to force children on school buses to listen to its commercialized, student-targeted radio broadcasts—which hired four lobbyists to defeat the ban.
CCFC salutes Chairman Al Simpson and the rest of the Board of Education for providing the students of South Carolina with a much needed haven from the commercialism infiltrating nearly every aspect of children’s lives. We also commend State Senator Greg Ryberg for his commitment to children and for first proposing the idea of commercial-free South Carolina school buses.
In comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission last week, CCFC urged the FCC to (a) explicitly prohibit the inclusion of embedded ads in all children's programming; and (b) ban product placement and product integration in primetime broadcast programming when children are likely to be in the audience. Working with the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University, we filed the comments in response to the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on embedded advertising which asked, in part, if the FCC’s current rules were enough to protect children from product placement and product integration. Our short answer? No. Our longer answer can be found at http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/nprm.html.
Our successful campaign to get Scholastic to stop selling Bratz items in schools has spurred an international discussion about the sexualization of children, including a widely syndicated story in Canada, and articles in the New York Times and the British daily, the Guardian. (You can read all the press coverage here). In addition, our campaign is fomenting public discussion about the presence of excessive commercial content in Scholastic’s Book Clubs and Book Fairs, including this great editorial in the Tampa Tribune.
Thanks again to the more than 5,000 of you who wrote to Scholastic to demand Bratz-free schools!
Within hours of the launch of our campaign to urge BusRadio to stop promoting the new 90210 on its website for children as young as six, BusRadio began pulling ads for the show off of its website. For some reason, however, they didn’t finish the job so please keep those emails to BusRadio coming.
The CW claims that the intended audience for 90210 – which is chock full of teen sex and drinking – is 18 and up, but that claim is belied by the BusRadio advertising. We’ve also discovered ads for 90210 on channelone.com, the website of the controversial in-school news and advertising program.
Last week, the Commercialism in Education Research Unit (CERU) at Arizona State University released its eleventh annual report on schoolhouse commercialism, At Sea in a Marketing-Saturated World. Co-authored by CCFC Steering Committee member Alex Molnar, the report finds that children live, breathe, and play with branded products in and outside of school; that modern advertising often demands the active engagement of its target audience; and that school-based commercialism is now a global phenomenon.
Marin Institute’s new study, Why Big Alcohol Can’t Police Itself: A Review of Advertising Self-Regulation in the Distilled Spirits Industry, shows how voluntary self-regulation is a public relations charade. With no independent review, no objective guidelines, and no enforcement power or penalties, corporate self-regulation is biased and ineffective. The distilled spirits industry spends millions of dollars a year on slick ads that often depict sexualized content and expose youth to messages that glorify drinking.
In July, CCFC sent letters to the Platform Committee of both parties requesting the adoption of “a plank committing to protect our nation’s children from the excesses of our marketing-driven media culture.” Over 2,000 of you signed petitions letters urging the Committees to adopt such a plank and many of you attended platform meetings in your own communities and advocated for our proposed language.
We received a form letter from the Republican Platform Committee thanking us for our input. In July, we accepted an invitation to meet with the Democratic Platform Committee.
When the platforms were released we found that the Republicans ducked the issue completely—there is no mention of media and children at all in the Republican Platform. The Democratic Platform addresses the issue by ignoring corporate culpability and focusing responsibility for protecting children squarely, and solely, on parents. The language in the Democratic Platform reads as follows:
We will encourage more educational content on the Web and in our media. We will give parents the tools and information they need to manage what their children see on television and the Internet – in ways fully consistent with the First Amendment. (p. 23)
Online and on TV, we will give parents tools to block content they find objectionable. (p. 49)
Whatever the outcome of the upcoming election, it’s clear that our voices are needed more than ever. CCFC will continue working for the rights of children to grow up—and the freedom for parents to raise them—without being undermined by corporate interests.
Support CCFC. We rely on our members because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate funding. To make a tax-free contribution, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate.