Does your local middle or high school show Channel One? Don’t know? Until recently, we were only vaguely aware that our middle school had it. It came up during our recent discussions about homeschooling our children so we checked into it. We were pretty disgusted by what we found. Here are some links if you’re interested:
- Channel One – The Most Controversial Show On Television
- Education Reporter: Channel One Still Plays to Captive Audiences
- Channel One’s website
And here is my Letter to the Editor of our local paper:
The Hampshire Review, Hampshire County, WV – Sept. 5, 2001
Wants School Board to Cancel Channel One
Did you know that Hampshire County children from sixth grade through twelfth are forced to watch a TV program called Channel One in school every day? Channel One is a daily 12-minute “newscast for teenagers” that includes 2 to 3 minutes of ads. In exchange for showing this daily program our schools get free TVs and VCRs. Sound like a good deal? Well I’ve looked into the details and I think that it’s a truly rotten deal!
Channel One is not interested in educating our children. A university study found that only 20 percent of Channel One’s program is spent on “recent political, economic, social and cultural stories”. From what I’ve seen of it only a little could be considered educational. For the most part it’s an MTV-style jumble of images with a driving rhythm soundtrack — entertainment designed to keep the attention of the kids between the ads. The same program is shown to our 11-year-old sixth graders and to our 18-year -old high school seniors. There is no way that a single program can be appropriate for such a wide range of ages, and I for one do not consider an 11-year-old to be a “teenager.”
Channel One IS interested in making money off of our children. Advertisers pay up to $200,000 for a 30-second ad on Channel One. That’s a lot of money to pay, and here’s why they pay it according to Channel One’s advertiser sales literature: “Channel One doesn’t just deliver teen viewers, it delivers the hardest to reach teen viewers. Channel One even penetrates the lightest viewers among teens…’Traditional’ television vehicles reach the same viewers over and over again … Channel One’s unique delivery reaches heavy and light viewers equally. No waste. No wearout. Just impact.” Channel One can “penetrate” our children because it’s contract requires that our schools show the program in its entirely, with the sound on, in at least 80% of the classrooms on at least 90% of school days — it has a captive audience.
The worst part of all this is that this program and it’s advertisers get a stamp of approval from our schools — we say, ‘Here kids, watch this, it’s educational and good for you.’ This makes the ads more important in our children’s minds than ads seen at home. I find Channel One to be neither educational nor good. I urge our School Board to cancel it’s Channel One contract. There is no penalty, just the loss of the “free” TV sets and VCRs. But using the math I learned back when I was in school, Channel One costs our children over 5 days of classroom instruction time each school year — 5 lost days of class time in a school system that every year moans about the difficulty of meeting the state-required 180 days of school. That is not “free”, in fact that is way too high a price. We should not let greedy corporate advertisers co-opt our children’s education.