“Critics Tune In To Channel One”

October 6, 1997

This article presented Obligation’s view of Channel One and the opposing view. The article was written by Elizabeth Wine (ewine@postherald.com or 205-325-2308). Although no local superintendent was quoted, State Superintendent Ed Richardson was. “(Richardson) said that the trade-off of advertising for technology is ‘an unfortunate dilemma’ but adds that he’s not too worried about the effects of advertising on students.”

Several school systems were forthright in how they handle Channel One. (The apparent wholesale breaching of the Channel One contract will be discussed later on this web site.)

The last Channel One hold-out in the “Over-the-Mountain” suburbs of Birmingham, AL is Pizitz Middle School. They broadcast the TV show to a predominantly pre-teen audience. The principal said only one person has complained about the inappropriateness of showing Channel One. “(The principal) said that the controversy over the two minutes’ of advertising on Channel One overshadows the educational programming provided by the network.” He even says that one parent complained about his previewing the Channel One show before school , because that was a form of censorship.

He goes on to say that half of the students never look at Channel One, preferring to do school work or talk with classmates.

The Pizitz PTA president and a teacher told the paper they “applaud the use of Channel One.” “(They both) like the world news stories Channel One presents. They said its shows the students current events they wouldn’t see otherwise.” The PTA president said, “Kids don’t read the papers or watch the (network) news.”

The article noted the National PTA, the National Education Association and the Eagle Forum’s opposition to Channel One. It also mentioned the Vassar and Johns Hopkins studies that said Channel One was not educational.

If a principal takes an active role in promoting or defending the benefits of Channel One, it will present a formidable obstacle for parents, teachers, and others who believe Channel One is a waste. Some states restrict public school administrators and teachers from promoting particular vendors. As far as we can tell, Alabama has no such regulation. In a state that allows school administrators to be pro-active in support of a product like Channel One, those who want more teaching and less Hollywood will have to work harder.


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