Letter to the editor – Sept. 5, 2011 – Still valid.

May 18, 2012

Schools should suspend Channel 1 until studied

Birmingham News

In more than 300 Alabama secondary schools, students will close their books and watch commercials for upcoming movies and video games. Students will also enjoy video clips from rock bands selling their latest music.

This madness is happening because schools have signed a contract with a New York youth marketing firm called Channel One. (Interestingly, the firm’s home state bans Channel One from all its public schools.)

The deal: Channel One loans schools TV equipment if they promise to show the firm’s commercial-saturated, 12-minute TV show called Channel One News at least 90 percent of school days. That equals 32 hours a year. An instructional week of school is 30 hours. That could mean a loss of seven weeks if watched from the sixth grade to the 12th, which is common.

Although Channel One News does contain some news headlines and teen feature stories, its main purpose is to get advertising to a captive audience of students.

No educational organization endorses the use of Channel One. The overwhelming majority of U.S. secondary schools don’t have it.

Channel One is disproportionately found in schools in lower-income areas. It’s a tragic irony that Alabama students who are in greater need of more academic time are the ones watching commercials for “The Green Hornet,” “Super 8” and “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

With the exception of one middle school in Vestavia Hills, all the over-the-mountain schools in Homewood, Mountain Brook, Hoover and Shelby County do not show the program. Boo to Jefferson County and Bessemer for having it, and bravo to Birmingham schools for never falling for this Faustian deal.

Our state should, at the very least, encourage local districts to suspend the showing of Channel One until a study can be made to determine if the program is educationally sound and if its benefits outweigh its costs.

Jim Metrock

President, Obligation.org

Vestavia Hills

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