Channel One News is a twelve-minute satellite television programme broadcast in the USA. Designed as a ‘current affairs’ bulletin aimed at children and teenagers, the programme is often full of trivial reports about celebrities and attractive lifestyles. Of the twelve-minute running time, two are wholly dedicated to advertisements.
In 1989, the directors of Channel One signed an agreement with 12,000 of the 50,000 primary and high schools across the USA to show the programme in classrooms. In exchange, the broadcaster would subsidise the schools’ video equipment and audiovisual material. Eight million students watch the programme almost daily alongside their teachers.
Of course, the majority of schools that have signed up to the agreement are located in poor and marginalised neighbourhoods, which would not otherwise be able to afford audiovisual resources. The programme has received a lot of criticism due to the fact that these twelve minutes every day add up to six teaching days being lost each year, one of which is entirely dedicated to advertising. The annual cost to the taxpayer of these six teaching days is 1.8 billion dollars.
In addition, the fact that this programme is seen in class accompanied by teachers leaves the children even more vulnerable to the dangers of advertising. If you see it in class, it must be good for you. Therefore, those hamburgers that your teachers showed you must be good for your health.
Research shows that the children that see this programme in class are more willing, on average, to accept statements such as ‘brand clothing is better’ or even ‘a good car is more important than a good education’.
The products advertised include fast food brands, soft drinks, video games, Hollywood films and plenty of other items that are hardly beneficial to the wellbeing of the kids. Advertisements have even included army recruitment campaigns and messages sponsored by tobacco companies.
- You can find this and other examples of the extremes that child advertising has reached in Juliet B. Schor’s book ‘Born to buy. The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture’: http://www.aef.com/on_campus/classroom/book_excerpts/data/3005
- Channel One News: http://www.channelone.com/