From the archives: Channel One News gets an “F” from California state superintendent (May 26, 1989)

August 20, 2012

From Jim Metrock: Although the state of California has the largest population, and secondary school population, few schools have or have ever had Channel One News. The reason is California educators, school administrators, and parents fought hard to keep this youth marketing firm out of their classrooms.  



Commercial TV in Classroom Gets an F From Honig

May 26, 1989|MARIA NEWMAN | Times Staff Writer
State Supt. of Public Instruction Bill Honig on Thursday issued a negative report card for Channel One, a controversial, satellite-delivered television show that introduced commercials to the classroom.

“Our students’ minds aren’t for sale,” Honig said in Anaheim as he announced that public schools would not be allowed to collect state money for the time that students spend watching the commercial television program.

In March, Tennessee-based Whittle Communications introduced Channel One’s pilot project at five high schools and one junior high school across the nation, including Gahr High School in Cerritos. The five-week program ended last month, but Whittle plans to expand the program nationwide if it proves successful.

Honig said his department has examined the legal and ethical merits of Channel One and decided that it was “forced commercialization in school.” He said Channel One does not qualify as an “educational activity,” and therefore is inconsistent “with the purpose for which schools are established.”

“On the whole, it’s a bad deal for kids, a bad deal for education, and it sets a terrible precedent,” Honig said at a news conference.

If California public schools take part in the Whittle programming, Honig said they will be docked state funding commensurate with the total number of hours that students view the show.

Whittle’s 12-minute program, viewed daily in the pilot project, was a lively international news show with young announcers. It was the two minutes of commercials, for such products as Snickers candy bars, Levi’s jeans and Gillette razors, that bothered educators.

Whittle has said it was prepared to make a $100-million investment to equip schools with TV monitors in each classroom, satellite dishes and video recorders.

David Jarrard, spokesman for Whittle Communications in Knoxville, said California is the only state where there has been official opposition to Channel One.

“We respectfully strongly disagree on the interpretation of state law here,” he said. “We did this in six schools across the country, and the response in these schools, including Cerritos, has been remarkable in how positive it is, even more so than we expected.”

Even before Channel One began its pilot program, it met with strong opposition. The National PTA and the Action for Children’s Television strongly condemned the use of commercials.

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