When Channel One News walked out on school board members. (2008)

July 11, 2017

Note: This is from May 2008. Both Obligation and Channel One News had booths at the same education conference exhibit hall. ¬†Eyeball to eyeball and… Channel One blinked.

Channel One News personnel abandoned their booth at the 2008 NSBA exhibit hall.


From Jim Metrock:

I was very proud to have a booth at the recent National School Boards Association annual conference. The attendance in the exhibit hall had never been better. There were school board members from all over the country. Several people from Alaska and more than a few from Canada came by our booth along with many hundreds more from all over. Canadians almost to a one knew how their teachers and the public fought and ultimately killed the Channel One News-clone in their country called YNN (Youth News Network). They, along with the vast majority of those we talked to, gave Obligation great encouragement to keep battling the commercial exploitation of schoolchildren.

Channel One also had a booth at the NSBA. In fact they had a double booth twice the size of ours. They had at least three people manning their booth. (I stayed away from their booth for the first two days of the exhibit, but did look down the aisle occasionally.)

The exhibit hall was open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. All exhibitors were under strict orders to not dismantle or leave their booth unattended before 2:00 PM on Monday. This makes good sense. If people leave a booth and go home early or if they dismantle their booth while others are trying to talk to school board members, then it would be a great detriment to those exhibitors who remain. No exhibitor wants to be around a booth that is unstaffed. It takes away from the whole exhibition experience both for school board members and other exhibitors.

Around noon on Monday I looked down the aisle to see if Dr. Paul Folkemer the Education VP for Channel One and a natural for being at the NSBA conference had shown up. He was AWOL for the first two days. What I saw stunned me. Not only was Dr. Folkemer still missing, but there was nobody at their booth. I then thought that they had taken a break and would be back. I checked again at 1:00 PM and still no one was there.

It was very apparent that Channel One News people had either abandoned their booth at least by noon or they had not shown up at all on Monday.

This says a lot about this company. Maybe more than they want the public to know.

Did they leave because Obligation was handing out a brochure that documented the past problems with their “news” show? By “documented” I mean FULLY documented. We have an extensive supporting page for the brochure. [Note: In 2013, all of our videos were lost when Channel One’s lawyers filed copyright infringement claims to YouTube.] No one can possibly challenge anything in our brochure whereas Channel One’s big whopper claim of “digital clear” is misleading to say the least.

I walked down to their booth for the first time since the conference began. I had stayed away from their booth so no one could claim I was bothering them, but now with no one there I took these pictures. It was like a ghost town.

From their corporate point, the employees who decided not to show up for work were totally irresponsible. Tucking tail and running away is not a strategy, at least not for viable companies that have nothing to be afraid of.

In business you should never let them see you sweat, and Channel One broke that rule. Their abandoned booth shouted, “Defeated!” I guess they just couldn’t counter the arguments we made for commercial-free classrooms.

There was literature on their tables, but I saw no one picking any up. The Channel One director chairs were empty. They had a TV set (much better than Channel One’s typical classroom TV) and it was on, but it had an error message displayed which seemed fitting.

If they didn’t show up the last day because they thought there would be few people coming through the exhibit hall they were mistaken. There was good traffic at our booth except for the last hour and even then I was putting together brochure packets up until five minutes before 2:00 PM.

Maybe Channel One wants to attend conferences where only one side of the story can be told – theirs.

It’s funny that Channel One is surviving on a $2.3 million grant by the Knight Foundation to encourage appreciation of the First Amendment. Channel One’s history is known to most: They detest and viciously fight anybody who disagrees with its business model. For years, Channel One paid lobbyist Jack Abramoff hundreds of thousands of dollars to crush public efforts to keep Federal tax dollars from funding their company. In 1999, they created a sham “organization” called the “Coalition To Protect Our Children” to try to undermine a U.S. Senate hearing on their company. Channel One is rough on any one or group that stands in the way of their revenue.

On that last day of the NSBA exhibition I couldn’t help but think of the contrast. Obligation’s booth was a roaring success. Pat Ellis, Obligation’s Education Director, and I could not have met nicer people during the exhibit. And then there’s Channel One News. Neither the president of the company nor the VP of Education, both newly hired, cared to come to talk to school board members and superintendents.

As I looked at the forsaken Channel One News booth I picked up one of their handouts that had fallen on the floor. It read, “Your students count on you. Count on us to help.” Yet there was no one there to help a soul. There was no one there to even hand out handouts. I felt like I was walking through a tornado-destroyed home, picking up a piece of something that once seemed important.

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