TV in School Steals Time From Alabama’s Schoolchildren

September 21, 1997

Alabama schoolchildren are being
robbed and taxpayers are getting fleeced by a TV show.

Even though it has been denounced
by virtually every major educational organization, many Montgomery-area
schoolchildren are forced to watch Channel One.

Channel One is the controversial
12-minute news show that is designed for a teenage consumer audience.
Two minutes are commercials. The "news" is not the
purpose of the show. The ads are. Channel One Network is an advertising
delivery system. Its primary objective is not educational, nor
journalistic. They purchase student school time from a school
board, that had no right to sell it, and they resell it to advertisers
eager for the undivided attention of a hard-to-get-to audience.

Our compulsory attendance laws
guarantee Channel One a captive audience. A 30-second commercial
can fetch $200,000 – prime-time rates.

Alabama taxpayers are paying
dearly for children to watch commercials for expensive athletic
shoes, junk food, offensive and violent movies and TV shows,
and promotions of Internet chat rooms that can pose real dangers
to children.

Last school year, children as
young as eleven were forced to watch ads for the most violent
primetime series on TV, Fox’s New York Undercover (same TV-14
rating as NYPD-Blue).

Many children must have watched in horror, last April, as a graphic
commercial for Stephen King’s "The Shining" was compelled
viewing. The "parental warning" at the end was not
heard by parents.

Why would a school board ever
think about selling this unprecedented access to students?

Here’s the deal. Channel One will furnish a school with the daily
satellite broadcast and the equipment to receive it: a fixed
satellite dish, two VCRs, and a TV set in each classroom. The
network is wired for free. The equipment is maintained at no
cost. The school can use the TV sets in any way they want. The
equipment always remains the property of Channel One.

All the school board has to do
is contractually agree to require its students to watch Channel
One 90% of all school days in 80% of all classrooms. It cannot
be shown before or after school, and it must be shown in its

This means a school agrees to
turn over up to an hour a week of its curriculum to this private

The show is of questionable educational
value (and that’s being charitable).

A study in 1994 by Dr. Nancy
Knupfer, Kansas State, concludes, "Channel One does not
appear to be effective in increasing students’ knowledge about
current events."

Vassar College and Johns Hopkins
each issued studies this January that criticized this TV show.
Professor William Hoynes of Vassar said, "Channel One is
essentially not educational television. It is a slick 12-minute
commercial." Other studies are equally as critical.

Much of what is presented is
age-inappropriate for its youthful audience. This spring, children
were told in one news report that a new drug survey shows that
half of their parents smoked marijuana and half of them expect
their kids to use drugs.

Children are encouraged every
show to visit www., their corporate website. Here
children are asked for inappropriate personal information. They
have a chat room where children can send anonymous messages to
each other, or possibly to child predators.

The website reviews R-rated movies
for children and asks the kids to send in their reviews of vulgar
movies like Def Jam’s How To Be A Player. Explicit content music
groups are promoted on the site for children of all ages. Currently,
they are featuring Bone Thugs and Harmony’s new obscenity-filled

Last year, all "Channel One students" had to sit in
their home rooms and listen to the satanic band Marilyn Manson.
That’s what happens when you sell your students.

The Alabama State Board of Education
in 1991 passed a resolution saying that selling classroom access
to companies like Channel One was "exploitation and a violation
of the public trust." Our current State Board has not addressed
Channel One’s exploitation.

Unlike previous State Superintendents,
Dr. Ed Richardson has yet to state publicly where he stands on
Channel One.

A contract with Channel One is
the exact opposite of "local control." A school system
abandons up to one hour a week of taxpayer-purchased time to
this Hollywood studio. No Alabamian has any input into this curriculum.

At a 1991 Senate hearing on Channel
One, California Superintendent of Education, Bill Honig said,
"Parents entrust their children to our public schools, ‘Channel
One’ is a commercial transaction that violates this trust. We
have no right – legally or ethically – to sell access to our
students by converting the educational purpose of school to a
commercial one, even if schools receive a modest benefit in return."

Channel One takes from Alabama
schools much more than it gives.

Channel One is usually shown
in homeroom period. Bucking the trend to reduce or eliminate
non-instructional time, "Channel One schools" have
to make homeroom 12 minutes longer than necessary to accommodate
this advertising company.

That’s costly. If we conservatively
assume it costs taxpayers $.06/minute to support one student
in school, then it costs $113 for one student to watch Channel
One the minimum number of days. Multiplying by a school’s total
enrollment results in a taxpayer nightmare.

Our State Board and Superintendent
have a responsibility to maintain public support for public education.
Like any misuse of money and time, this institutionalized waste
diminishes that support.

Ask your school if they have this TV show. If they do, ask them
to stop showing it. If your school is not going to pull the plug,
request copies of each show be made available to parents.

Also, Channel One says the show
is "specifically designed for teenagers." Demand your
school remove all pre-teens in 6th and 7th grade from compulsory

By turning off Channel One, and
making homeroom 12 minutes shorter, we can add an extra week
of school instruction – without a child spending one extra minute
in school and without one extra penny of taxpayers’ money.

The new tougher exit exam will
be a breeze. <End>