The letter that ended Chris Whittle’s Channel One News

September 3, 2015

Joke’s on you, School Board.


From Jim Metrock:  Three years ago, Channel One News was forced to send this letter to the relatively few schools that still had their TV equipment.

It marked the end of the original Channel One News – the one that was extremely profitable back in the 90’s.

In 2012 the few remaining executives at Channel One understood the stark reality of what they were facing.  They knew their inventory of ancient TV sets and headend units and satellite dishes, once their prized assets, had become troubling liabilities.  They knew schools were continuing to end their contracts.  They knew that every day fewer students were actually viewing their TV program.  As the audience shrank, so did ad revenue.

The Channel One equipment was either worthless or getting there.  The cost of disposing of the TVs and satellite dishes was often more than what they could be sold for.  So Channel One did an ugly thing – an unethical thing.   They simply transferred title to the equipment to schools.  Now the schools had to figure out how to pay for disposing of old analog TV sets and old K-U Band satellite dishes.

Nowhere in the Channel One contract does it state that title of the equipment could be transferred to the school district.  No school could have anticipated this happening. In fact, Channel One always made a point to emphasize that at no time did schools own any of their TV network hardware.

So this letter has been sitting in file cabinets of schools since 2012 and 2013.  Nobody probably thought a thing about it at the time.  When it comes time to remove Channel One’s junk TV sets and satellite dish (that could only pick up signals for the Channel One show), a school will find out that they will have to pay a fee before anyone picks them up.  TV sets contain toxic substances like lead and cadmium.  They have to be processed.  That costs money.  Channel One knew that so that’s why the made “their” schools pay for it.

It’s like having a nice dinner with a friend and then leaving quickly before the check comes so the friend is on the hook for paying the bill and tip.

After this illegal transfer of assets to unsuspecting schools, Channel One greatly improved their balance sheet. After the liabilities of the equipment were wiped clean, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt agreed to acquire Channel One in May 2014. 

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