In-school newscast's cancelation celebrated

After 28 years of newscasts for in-school use, Channel One announced that the 2017-18 academic year was its last year of broadcasts.
Screen capture from ChannelOne.com.
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Channel One, the daily TV newscast for schoolchildren that once drew criticism from a Southern Baptist Convention resolution, announced it has ceased its daily broadcasts.

The announcement was greeted with celebration from the conservative group Eagle Forum, which said in a July 11 news release Channel One's 12-minute newscast for "a captive audience" of public school students included commercials that "encouraged materialism" and promoted movies with "inappropriate behavior not condoned by parents."

Bobbie Patray, president of Tennessee Eagle Forum, told Baptist Press she is "very happy" at Channel One's announcement because she has been "very concerned" about it over the years. Patray served on the 1999 SBC Resolutions Committee and played a role in developing a resolution declaring "the advertising and commercial use of Channel One unfortunate and an erroneous educational strategy."

"God created people to be very visual," Patray said, "and when we see things, it has an impact on us," including the objectionable Channel One advertisements shown to teens and preteens without parents' knowledge.

According to a June 27 announcement on Channel One's website, the broadcast ran 28 years and ceased following the 2017-2018 school year because of concerns related to "return on investment" and "strategic coherence" of its parent company's "product portfolio."

In the late 1990s, some 40 percent of all 11- to 18-year-olds in America watched Channel One because their school districts signed contracts with the network, the late Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly told Congress in 1999. Those contracts provided schools with televisions and other electronic equipment in exchange for a promise to show the daily newscast.

The SBC's resolution put the number of daily student viewers at 8 million and called "on school administrators and community leaders to work to remove Channel One from their school districts."

The SBC resolution stated, "Channel One advertising includes promotion of junk foods; chat rooms and 'Personal Ads' message boards; movies such as Eddie Murphy's Holy Man and Adam Sandler's The Water Boy, both of which are age-inappropriate for the students who see these ads; movies with sexually suggestive content such as Never Been Kissed; movies with ultra-violent themes such as The Mummy Quest; television shows like Stephen King's The Shining and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; sexualized magazines like Seventeen; and has broadcast the music of groups known for ... violent and sexually explicit lyrics such as the satanic rock band, Marilyn Manson."

In 2000, Channel One gave Southern Baptists partial credit when it announced it would begin screening ads for PG-13 movies to determine their appropriateness for high school audiences."

Patray noted that in recent years opposition to Channel One seems to have quieted.

Archived Channel One broadcasts remain available through the network's website, including an edition for grades 3-5 and another for grades 6-12.

David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP).
Download Story