Channel One Resolution Exposed

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The Channel One Resolution was adopted by ALEC's Education Task Force at the Annual Meeting on August 8, 2002, approved by the full ALEC Board of Directors in September, 2002. ALEC has attempted to distance itself from this piece of legislation after the launch of in 2011, but it has done nothing to get it repealed in the states where it previously pushed for it to be made into law.

CMD's Bill Summary

This "model" resolution supports the use of commercial broadcaster Channel One in public schools. Channel One News creates a daily 12-minute newscast targeted at teens in schools, including two minutes of advertising from corporate sponsors for this captive audience. Channel One says that its ad revenue from corporations allows it to offer its news service to schools free. Its "sponsorship" categories are "apparel, entertainment, health/beauty, beverages, electronics, retail, and the U.S. government (military recruitment)." Channel One was discussed in a Senate Finance Committee report about notorious (and subsequently convicted criminal) lobbyist Jack Abramoff's "Use of Tax-Exempt Organizations," noting that Abramoff urged Americans for Tax Reform's (ATR's) Grover Norquist to join him in doing an op-ed in support of Channel One, after it was criticized by Ariana Huffington, Ralph Nadar, and others. Jeffrey Ballabon, who was then the executive vice president of Primedia Inc.'s Channel One, told Abramoff he wanted to "get credit from the Pentagon Public Affairs Department and then from ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy) and then from minority groups... and Grover and CAGW (Citizens Against Government Waste) and Rabbi Lapin (the head of "Tower Tradition")... we should get these guys crazy! And lots and lots of interviews with members of Congress!"[1] Abramoff responded to Channel One by getting an op-ed in the works "by Peter Ferrara which deals with the cost to taxpayers issue. He'll have a draft real fast for us. I'll run it in the Investors Business Daily, and probably reprinted in Human Events." Ballabon asked Abramoff to get Norquist to "blast" the coalition (against Channel One). Abramoff did so and then Norquist penned an op-ed for the Washington Times titled "Tuning in to Channel One." Abramoff subsequently agreed to pay Ferrara $3,000 to do an "economic analysis" related to Channel One and Norquist agreed as long as Abramoff drafted it for him. He also said he would push to get it published in the Washington Times and Investors Business Daily and "share it with all our state groups." The Senate investigation reveals that other money flowed to commentators for Channel One via Abramoff.

ALEC Bill Text

WHEREAS, the Channel One Network produces a world class news program of the highest quality which is viewed by over eight million students throughout the United States in over 12,000 schools; and

WHEREAS, in addition to the news programs, Channel One provides schools with educational content and services valued at over $425 million a year; and

WHEREAS, students in Channel One schools have the opportunity to utilize television equipment provided by the company in unique and creative ways including the production and broadcast of their own student news programs; and

WHEREAS, Channel One News has received over two hundred educational and journalism awards for programming content including the prestigious George Foster Peabody award; and

WHEREAS, teachers who use Channel One have instant access to teaching guides and classroom materials on how to “teach the news” and can download hundreds of educational films and videos; and

WHEREAS, all of this important educational material is available to participating schools throughout the nation at no cost; and

WHEREAS, educators including members of local school boards, superintendents, media specialists and teachers continue to express their strong support for the use of Channel One in classrooms by renewing their contracts with the Channel One Network at annual rate of over 99%; and

WHEREAS, Channel One supports and partners with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the Partnership for a Drug Free America, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign by providing millions of dollars of free advertising; and

WHEREAS, these public service messages reach secondary school students with critical prevention information about health and safety issues that affect teens including underage drinking, school violence, substance abuse and mental health,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) hereby recognizes and commends the important public private partnership that exists between the Channel One Network and local educators throughout the nation and further states that the decision of whether to partner with Channel One and utilize this important resource is best made by local educators with input from students, parents, teachers, principals and administrators in the local community.

Adopted by ALEC's Education Task Force at the Annual Meeting August 8, 2002.

Approved by full ALEC Board of Directors September, 2002.