Channel One challenge fails

A bill aimed at turning off Channel One, the controversial Whittle Communications program that gives schools electronic gear in exchange for allowing TV commercials into the classroom, was blocked in the Assembly.

The bill by Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles) lost by a 31-41 vote Monday, 10 short of the majority needed in the 80-member Assembly.

A backer, Assemblywoman Delaine Eastin (D-Union City), asked for a second vote at a future session. Torres’ proposal already has passed the Senate.

“It (Channel One) provides a captive market for advertising,” said Assemblyman Rusty Areias (D-San Jose). “On a day when the curriculum includes health and nutrition, students take a break for ads for Skittles and M&Ms.”

But opponents said children are already exposed to ads in school newspapers and local school boards should decide whether to sign up for Channel One.

Channel One gives school districts electronic equipment, including a satellite dish, videocassette recorders and TVs if they broadcast Channel One to students in grades 6 through 12.

The program is a 12-minute daily news program that includes two minutes of paid ads.

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