by Marcus Kellis
Every day in small towns across the nation, students at the public high schools are subjected to four minutes of advertising along with six minutes of biased, poor reporting which is more often than not completely unrelated to the school curriculum. Advertisements are targetted to the lucrative fourteen-to-nineteen year old market, and the students of the high school can be disciplined if the broadcast does not recieve their full, undivided attention, whether it's showing anti-drug propaganda or the thrilling Plays of the Week, often violent captures of football plays, submitted by "Channel One(TM) Schools" nationwide. Channel One 'News' misuses the compulsory attendance laws enforced in the United States, wastes school and taxpayer time and money, and may in fact promote violent entertainment.
Channel One News is a product of Primedia Inc., a publicly-held company. Previous to this, it was held by Whttle Communications. Other properties owned by Primedia include Seventeen Magazine, a popular magazine often purported toencourage gender roles and teach young girls to be self-consious, and The Weekly Reader. Ch. One is shown via televisions installed in classrooms by the company, free of charge. Channel One's cost lies, essentially, in the time devoted to it by schools. 8.3 million students in 40% of American high schools view the program, according to company figures. Hardware provided to schools includes a satellite dish, videotape recorder for recording each day's program, monitors for each classroom, and essential wiring. While Primedia purports that "more than 200 million worth of equipment has been installed in schools and is regularly serviced free of charge," (1998), 10-K forms that are mandatory for companies to report to the Securities and Exchange Commition from March 1997 show that Primedia listed the value of "school equipment" and "deferred wiring and installation" at $56 and $58 million, respectively. Combined, we then get $114 million, which is a very good deal under the $200 million figure given by the company publicly.
Obviously, Channel One's televisions et al are taken back if use of the program is discontinued -- Primedia Inc. has ownership of all equipment at all times. Schools, usually, must promise that 80 percent of classrooms will show the program on 90 percent of school days. According to a 1995 figure by the Consumers Union, a thirty-second spot on the program costs nearly $200,000. With corporate sponsorships in schools already commonplace -- many have heard tales of people arrested for wearing Pepsi shirts on a Coca-Cola-sponsored "Coke Day" -- one has to wonder if using one-eighteenth of a seventy-minute school hour's time to blast children with advertisements that may directly clash with preferences of the parent on what the child eats, drinks, or consumes otherwise, be it an album or magazine.
In "The Hidden Costs of Channel One: Esimates for the Fifty States", written by the Center for the Analysis of Commercialism in Education, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee (Apr. 1, 1998), researchers looked into various aspects of how Channel One News affects every student and teacher's day. Broadcasting Channel One takes up six to seven days of instruction over a complete school year. On average, using estimates of attendance and Primedia Inc.'s own figures, $300 million a year of the public's money is wasted requiring students to watch two minutes of commercials. Twelve minutes a day of a secondary school's time costs almost $158,000/year, far exceeding both the total value of Channel One's equipment per school -- $17,000, by their figures -- and the annual rental value of the equipment -- $4,000.
I used that U of W report a lot in this essay.