A Boston-based nonprofit group has asked Alabama School Superintendent Tommy Bice to suspend the use of Channel One programming in Alabama schools. This reopens a debate over whether the 12-minute broadcast aimed at teenagers is appropriate. The group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, asserts that the Channel One television news program — shown in more than 300 Alabama schools — has limited educational value, its commercials are nothing more than plugs for the latest movie or movie star, and the Channel One website promotes other websites with inappropriate and even sexual content.
Channel One is a television news program — along with commercials — targeted toward teenagers. It is offered to schools, along with the hardware and television equipment to receive it. But in return for the “gifts,” the schools must agree to show a daily 12-minute program that includes news, feature stories and two minutes of commercials. In my opinion, Channel One has no place in our schools. I have seen some of what is being shown and it’s highly offensive and most inappropriate.
Opponents argue that free TVs and what they say is “soft news” content doesn’t contribute to classroom instruction and in fact takes instructional class time away. Students in schools that honor their contract of showing the broadcasts on at least 90% of school days will spend 32 hours a year watching Channel One. The letter asks Superintendent Bice to reconsider allowing Channel One broadcasts to be shown in Alabama classrooms, and states that the programming is of limited educational value anyway. The decision to contract with Channel One is left up to local school systems. I understand it’s shown in 332 schools in Alabama. I believe the harm from Channel One greatly outweighs the benefits. The sooner it is removed from the classrooms in Alabama, the better for both students and teachers.
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