Channel One Going Dark

Opponents of Channel One News are celebrating the announcement by Houghton Mifflin that it is pulling the plug on the in-classroom broadcast service.

"Our last broadcast aired in May, and we will be winding down ongoing operations," the company announced on its website. "While the daily broadcasts have ended, the Channel One News video library and curriculum will remain active for premium subscription customers through the length of existing contracts.

The company said its coverage of climate change and environmental issues encouraged kids to protect the planet and inspired civic participation.

It was not the news so much as the two minutes of commercials kids were required to sit through that had children's advocates seeing red for the past 28 years.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, one of its major critics, was breaking out the chocolate milk.

"This is a landmark day for children, and a testament to the tireless advocacy of those who believe classrooms should be free of corporate marketing,” said CCFC executive director Josh Golin. “Parents and educators have become increasingly wary of corporations targeting a captive audience of schoolchildren, and Channel One has been losing subscribers in droves with each passing year. We’re glad Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has finally pulled the plug on what was a terrible idea from the start.”

CCFC has previously organized parents to keep Channel One out of school districts and urged advertisers to avoid the controversial network."

According to the agreement, in exchange for free TV sets and a satellite dish for the school, Channel One got to broadcast 180 days (at least 90% of the days school was in session). No particular student or classroom was required to view it, but Channel One could terminate the contract if it had issues with how the show was or wasn't being displayed to qualified students.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.