When Channel One took TV sets out of Elkview Middle School.

August 2, 2012

Did Channel One commit a crime at Elkview Middle School? Principal Messinger was kind not to file charges against the youth marketing company.

From Jim Metrock:  The news article below is from two years ago. It says something important about Elkview Middle School’s commitment to academics, and it also says something very ugly about Channel One News and how their operations department works.
Channel One was told not to enter the school and remove anything until they received permission to do so. Channel One employees or agents apparently told a custodian that they had talked to the right person and created the assumption they had permission to removed various TV equipment during a vacation period, which they did.  Richard Messinger the Elkview principal could have filed a criminal complaint against Channel One. There are legitimate questions as to who owned the equipment. True, the Channel One contract says the equipment is owned by Channel One but over the years Channel One has allowed schools to keep the equipment without having to show the Channel One TV program according to the contract.
In short, a school attorney could have argued that the Channel One contract was no longer controlling, that it had become a sham contract with no enforceable requirements on either party.
Keep in mind that Elkview Middle School had shown Channel One News to students since 1990. Channel One News made money off Elkview Middle School students for two decades! Advertisers paid Channel One for access to Elkview students all that time and Channel One did not share one penny of the ad revenue Elkview’s captive audience generated as they watch thousands of commercials during they school day. At some point did Elkview not deserve to have title to the TV equipment?
Elkview pays rent on Channel One’s TV sets not with cash but with the sacrifice of student time. 12 minutes a day, 1 hour a week, 1 instructional week of school a year (32 hours). That’s a high price to pay especially for 20 years.  
One reason the school district didn’t press this issue is the sorry state of Channel One’s equipment. The TV sets were old. It appears this is yet another school that could not get Channel One out to do maintenance.
Interesting in this article are comments made by Barbara Emerson a “customer service manager”for Channel One. (Here’s hoping nobody runs into a customer service person like Ms. Emerson when you need some help in a store.)
“She said the company never relinquishes ownership of the equipment.” This is very misleading. Possession is a key component to ownership. If one can possess a particular TV set FOREVER, then most people would say that person owns the TV. Channel One may technically keep title to equipment but they have allowed many schools to just keep the equipment. It’s too much bother and expense to haul their TV sets out of all the schools that have been ending their contracts with Channel One.

Channel One’s own contract says:  D (7) Upon termination of this Agreement, Channel One shall have the right but not the obligation (our emphasis) to remove the Equipment from the School at Channel One’s expense. Channel One will not be required to remove any wiring. 

Channel One also states it is not definite that they will remove ANY equipment even if the contract is continually violated: D(6) ChannelOne may (our emphasis)  terminate this Agreement upon the occurrence of any of the following events :(i)  if the School breaches its obligations under this Agreement; (ii) if the number of Qualified Students in the School declines at any time during any three-year term of this Agreement from the number of Qualified Students at the beginning of the three-year term by more than 25% or falls below 250; (iii) if the satellite dish or any component of the receiving system or headend equipment is damaged, destroyed or stolen; (iv) if Channel One determines in its reasonable discretion that the number of television sets damaged, destroyed or stolen at the School is excessive; (v) if participation by the School in the Network violates any law, ordinance or regulation; (vi) if Channel One determines in its sole discretion that installing the School is not economically justifiable to Channel One; (vii) if Channel One ceases to provide the Network to other high schools or middle schools in the United States; or (viii) if the School shows Channel One News on fewer than 90% of the days on which the School is in session and Channel One News is transmitted.

Monday April 5, 2010

Channel One starts to reclaim TVs at schools

Daily Mail staff

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Elkview Middle School Principal Richard Messinger said he was startled upon returning from spring break to find several TVs missing from classrooms.

It wasn’t the work of thieves, though.

The sets apparently belong to Channel One News, a huge commercial enterprise that broadcasts 12-minute daily news segments in 8,000 secondary schools across the nation.

Under unclear circumstances, Channel One News sent someone to Elkview to reclaim its equipment. It was installed in 1990, the same year the company began broadcasting.

To Messinger, it’s no great loss. In fact, the news segments hadn’t even aired at Elkview lately because of a requirement that students spend more time on English and math, he said.

“It was a filler for us and we weren’t really getting anything out of it,” he said.

Miller said he notified Channel One that the school planned to cease showing its programming.

He said he was under the impression that the TVs became a school’s property if the school showed Channel One content for a number of years.

However, a Channel One representative contacted Messinger to say someone would come to retrieve the equipment.

Messinger said he told the caller not to come before checking with Chuck Wilson, facilities director for the school system.

Over spring break, a Channel One employee went to the school, gained entrance through a custodian and removed the equipment.

“He didn’t have anything from Chuck in the way of an order but he told the custodian he’d talked to Mr. Wilson,” Messinger said.

Wilson couldn’t be reached for comment Friday, but school system attorney Jim Withrow said he doubts Wilson told Channel One to “go in there and get your stuff.”

“That doesn’t sound like what he would say,” Withrow said.

Meantime, Channel One picked up TVs at Sissonville High School during the week before spring break, but that was expected, said assistant principal Nancy Walker.

“They gave us warning and we knew it was going to happen,” she said.

With a block schedule in place, in which students take four classes lasting 90 minutes each, there’s no time for the news broadcasts, Walker said.

But like Messinger, Walker said she believed the TVs became the school’s property after a few years.

Withrow said he didn’t know and would have to check.

“I remember looking into some of the agreements shortly after I was here, but I really haven’t had any reason to look at it until now,” he said.

The staff is working to retrieve the contracts, which are in storage at the central office, he said.

Channel One customer service manager Barbara Emerson said schools sign three-year contracts which are automatically renewed unless one side or the other cancels.

She said the company never relinquishes ownership of the equipment.

Emerson said schools aren’t charged to have the equipment removed and the company usually schedules pickup when students aren’t present.

Withrow said he’s not comfortable with what happened.

“I was certainly concerned that third parties could just enter a school and take property without saying something,” he said. “Whether those folks had a right to take it or not, it seems the manner in which it was done was a little precipitous and a little inappropriate. But I guess what’s done is done.”

Messinger said the TVs at his school were showing their age.

“Quite frankly, the televisions are outdated,” he said. “When they would break, we ended up having to have Kanawha County maintenance people take care of them.”

Messinger said there’s been growing reliance in recent years on educational Internet videos instead of TV programming in the classroom.

“We’re due to get whiteboards and projectors over the summer,” he said. “I suspect TVs will become pretty obsolete.”

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.har…@dailymail.com.

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