Why I won’t quit.

January 29, 2014

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From Jim Metrock:

I took off a month to consider if I should end Obligation’s fight against Channel One. I have been researching and reporting on Channel One, and raising awareness of Channel One’s presence in American classrooms since 1996.

I had a sense that Channel One’s current management wanted their classroom TV show to be less controversial, less commercial.

I noticed less silliness on the show- fewer reporters making fools of themselves promoting the Channel One brand. They appeared to be taking their TV show more seriously.  I thought there was a greater focus on hard news.

More importantly I was encouraged by fewer commercials on the program. I hoped all this was an indication of meaningful change. Enough change so I could wind up my Channel One work.

But… nah.

Alas, nothing of substance has changed at the Channel One. There are fewer commercials for sure, but not because CEO Ms. CJ Kettler wants a kinder and less controversial school TV show.  The truth is advertisers simply don’t want to waste their ad money on Channel One’s dead brand and phantom audience. Advertisers are well aware of Channel One’s rapidly shrinking audience.

Unfortunately, Channel One remains a secretive firm that continues to resist calls for more transparency.  The company under Ms. Kettler refuses to show parents and the public what products and services are being pitched on the classroom TV show.  Ms. Kettler, like her predecessors, apparently feels parents have no right to easily find out what Channel One is advertising to children.

I realize that I have to see this through.  Although I wish the work is done; it isn’t. No student should put up with Channel One commercials robbing them of their school time.

I have come too far to quit now.

Obligation has helped put Channel One on a course to extinction. No more is there a reason for any school to watch Channel One News. There is no more fear that the old Channel One TV sets will be taken away if the viewing requirements aren’t met. Channel One can’t enforce their contract with schools because Channel One itself has made their own contract almost meaningless.

Sure, I could walk away and justify it by saying Obligation has been successful in reversing Channel One’s growth. [In 1999, Channel One had a captive student audience of 8.1 million and climbing. Two years ago, Channel One admitted to having less than 5 million. They have failed to update their current audience figures. 3.5 million is my guess.]

I could walk away now knowing that Channel One News is irrelevant. Alabama’s State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice was shocked last year when I mentioned Channel One. He thought the company had long gone out of business. Principals and media specialists often tell me that Channel One was last shown in their school years ago, or they will tell me they have moved the show to a time before school officially begins or they show a few minutes of the program.

I could walk away feeling good knowing that Obligation has helped deal a body blow to Channel One’s advertising revenue.  One of my favorite memories was sitting in the office of the Director of the Media Campaign for the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. I showed him Channel One’s practice of airing the Campaign’s anti-drug PSAs along with Channel One-approved movie commercials for movies that glorified teen drug use and underage drinking. The Director was appalled. The revenue from the Campaign’s PSA campaign – one of the largest advertisers on Channel One News at the time – went away.

I could walk away knowing Obligation has cost Channel One a lot of money.  Obligation would spend a few hundred dollars on brochures or a convention booth and to fight back Channel One had to spend a whole lot more. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbyists and political hacks to battle those like me who said there was no place for TV commercials in classrooms.  Names like “Casino” Jack Abramoff, Jeff Ballabon,  Paul Folkemer, Ralph Reed, and others were paid big money in an attempt to keep Channel One’s captive audience captive.  They all failed.

But I am not going to walk away as long as one child has to watch one Channel One commercial.

I don’t know why I thought Channel One’s kiddie marketers might change their stripes.  Shame on me for thinking the best of people.

Now where were we?






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