May 19, 1999
For Immediate Release

Andrew Hagelshaw, Center for Commercial-Free Public Education 510 268-1100

Advertising in Schools Robs Communities of Local Control Over Education
Federal government asked to eliminate all money to programs that include commercialism in schools

Washington, DC—This Thursday, May 20, the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee will take its second look at Channel One, the highly controversial classroom "news" program that turns 40 % of our nation’s kids into a captive audience for advertisers every school day. Channel One is banned in the state of New York, and is opposed by nearly every major education group in the US. Despite the fact that Channel One plays to over 8 million school children every day on a mandatory basis, many citizens remain unaware of the program’s presence.

"We feel it is important that every citizen be made aware of the issues surrounding this questionable program," said Andrew Hagelshaw, Senior Program Director of the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education. The Center, a national non-profit organization that has publicly opposed Channel One since 1993, claims that Channel One works against the educational wishes of local communities by playing 2 minutes of advertisements during every 12 minute show. "Many of these ads convey messages to children that their parents and teachers don’t want them to learn," said Hagelshaw. "In this way, Channel One is taking educational control away from local school districts." While the hearing Thursday will focus on Channel One, the issue of marketing to school kids goes much further. Commercialism in America’s classrooms is reaching epidemic proportions, with new forms of in-school advertising being discovered every week. Recent articles in TIME magazine and the New York Times have chronicled some examples, such as the McGraw-Hill math textbook for six graders that includes advertising. "It’s all about making schoolchildren into a captive audience for advertisers, and the federal government should do everything in it’s power to stop it," said Walter Hanna, the Executive Director of the Center.

Possible action suggestions from the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education for the US Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee include:

1. Collecting government data to track where commercialism and programs like Channel One exist in the US.

2. Ensuring that no federal education money go to subsidize programs that include commercialism in schools.

3. Ensuring that no federal money be spent for programs that require teachers to use curriculum that has advertising.

4. Recommending that federal agencies pull paid advertising from programs like Channel One, that show ads to school children on a mandatory basis.

"The bottom line here is that commercialism in schools is the opposite of local control," added Mr. Hagelshaw. "If the federal government believes in local control of education, they should do everything in their power to curb commercialism and make the public aware of the issues. For this reason we thank the Senate for holding hearings on Channel One."

All of the recent national articles on commercialism mentioned Channel One as the company who began the trend of aggressive brand name marketing in schools with their launching in 1989. "Channel One, by bringing advertising directly into the classroom, sent a message that the schoolroom was no longer off limits," said Walter Hanna. "Advertising during school time was no longer taboo. Channel One kicked in the school door, and other advertising schemes have followed right in behind them."

Research done in 1997 by Vassar College professor William Hoynes concluded it was dubious whether Channel One "provides educational or civic benefits to either students or educators." Yet another study done by Michigan State University showed that children were much more likely to remember the ads, making Channel One a highly effective medium for brand name advertisers.

Channel One also takes away precious instructional time from our schools. The program fills six entire days of the school year, thus forcing the public to subsidize six days of television watching. One of the days is devoted entirely to advertisements. Recent research reported in theNew York Times concluded that the loss to tax payers annually amounts to over $1.8 billion.

--30 –

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