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Nonprofit urges schools to ban Channel One newscast over onslaught of commercials

Channel one.JPG

A screengrab taken from the Channel One News website shows a promotion for gURL.com, a site targeting teen girls that features such stories as "Reader Hookup Confession: My BF’s Mom Caught Me Giving Him Oral Sex!"

A Boston nonprofit is urging dozens of states to drop a 12-minute newscast popular in classrooms across the country, claiming the Channel One News broadcast is nothing more than a business ploy to subject children to commercials and other questionable content.

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood last month wrote school superintendents in 42 states, calling on them to conduct a thorough review of Channel One programming, which is currently broadcast to about five million students across the country each day. The group believes school kids are being forced to watch too many commercials and they question the message in the ads, as well as Channel One's website, which they claim promotes highly sexualized content.

"One full day of instructional time is lost each year just to Channel One’s commercials."

- Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood

"One full day of instructional time is lost each year just to Channel One’s commercials." the group said in its letter. "No other company generates revenue by compelling a captive audience of students to watch television commercials during taxpayer-funded class time."

The channel actively promotes its own website, which the group says has advertised a psychic for $7.49 a minute and promoted another site called gURL.com, which includes such articles as "Reader Hookup Confession: My BF’s Mom Caught Me Giving Him Oral Sex!" and "Can Your School Force You To Take A Pregnancy Test?!"

Channel One News, which touts itself as the "leading television news network for teens nationwide," is a 12-minute television program that includes news, feature stories and two minutes of commercials. By contract, schools receive free television equipment from Channel One in exchange for showing the broadcast to its students each day. 

"Our mission is to inform, educate and inspire by making news relevant and engaging for young people and sparking discussion around the important issues impacting youth today," the network says on its website. 

The nonprofit group, however, claims Channel One's mission is to inundate teens with advertisements and other non-educational content, wasting valuable class time.  

Josh Golin, the group's associate director, told FoxNews.com that many parents do not know what specific commercials children are exposed to in the classroom because "Channel One has refused to put the commercials that they show in their classroom broadcasts online."

"We asked them on a number of occasions to make those public and they refused," Golin said. "But what we do know is who advertises on their website and there's reason to think they are similar." 

"The other thing we’re really concerned about is that they’ve been increasingly moving their advertising beyond the two minute limit," he noted. "The ads are bleeding into the entire show."

Golin cited a May 23, 2012, broadcast during which he said Channel One devoted its entire newscast to promoting four television shows on the ABC Family network. 

The group claims that segment illustrates the network "violating its agreement with schools to limit commercial content to two minutes per episode."

Channel One, which began broadcasting in 1990, is a division of Alloy Media + Marketing. A spokesman for the network could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

On its website, the network notes its "long history of journalist excellence," including an April 2005 George Foster Peabody Award for its news coverage of the Sudan humanitarian conflict. 

A review of the website by FoxNews.com on Wednesday found advertisements for Puma, Vistaprint and Lowe's stores. At the top of site, however, next to stories on the Supreme Court and fossil fuels, is a link to the gURL.com website.  

Golin says much of the questionable content on Channel One's website may not be currently up because "they know that they are getting some media attention right now." 

Alabama school Superintendent Tommy Bice, one of 42 state superintendents contacted by Golin's group, told FoxNews.com Wednesday that Channel One's programming is under review.

"Step one has been to survey our 134 school systems to determine who actually uses Channel One," Bice said in an e-mail." That survey will be completed today but preliminary numbers indicate a very small number continuing to use Channel One that was very popular a decade ago in our state.  

"Once we have final numbers we will determine next steps but realizing that these decisions are local decisions and not a requirement of the State Department of Education," he said. 

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