Channel One News’s Angel Of Darkness

January 12, 2006

Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff



Controversial In-School Network Faced Several Legislative Threats

January 11, 2006

By Ira Teinowitz

WASHINGTON ( — Add Primedia to the list of media clients caught up in the Jack Abramoff lobbying disclosures.

Mr. Abramoff’s guilty plea has sparked expectations that it would affect members of Congress, and it’s already emerged that he worked as a lobbyist for the Magazine Publishers Association on postal reform issues. But he and his firms also served as lobbyist for Primedia and for its Channel One from 1999 through 2003, according to U.S. Senate and House records.

In a statement, the company acknowledged using Mr. Abramoff and his firm but said only that “Abramoff and Greenberg Traurig” — one of the firms Mr. Abramoff
worked for — “worked for Primedia several years ago. The work was performed well and was on budget.”

Primedia jettisoned the lobbying firms in early 2004.

Unclear connection
Although it is not clear what Mr. Abramoff’s firm did for Channel One, the network has faced a number of legislative threats, as critics of in-school advertising have pushed for regulations to limit how marketers reach students. Channel One also derived much of its ad revenue from government agencies, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and military recruitment efforts, all of which are subject to having their spending curtailed or increased by acts of Congress.

In the last year Channel One has faced a challenging advertising market. Announcing its third-quarter results in November, Primedia blamed disappointing Channel One results on U.S. government agencies not renewing or reducing their ad campaigns. It said at the time that U.S. government campaigns were down 76% in the quarter and 31% year to date.

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Note: After reading the full story, Obligation was startled by the lack of comment from Channel One’s president Judy Harris. Standard procedure would have the reporter obtaining multiple comments from the president of the company that is the center of the article. Ms. Harris was missing in action. She had an opportunity to represent her besieged company, but chose not to take it. This is another sign that she may be the least committed president Channel One has ever had or that they management understands what Obligation understands: Channel One is done.

Note: Channel One News has run stories about Abramoff on its TV show and on its web site. In contradiction of well-established rules of journalistic ethics, Channel One producers refuse to disclose their company’s connection with Abramoff. Do young people deserve the sloppy reporting Channel One continues to dump into schools? We don’t think so, but it’s probably too late to be talking about ethics at Channel One News.

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