State Senate OKs Ch. One ban

Legislation that would prohibit public schools from using Channel One, a controversial news-and-features program that includes advertisements, passed the Senate Wednesday on its second try.

A 21-14 vote, the bare majority needed on most legislation in the 40-seat Senate, sent the bill to the Assembly, where two earlier versions died in committee.

The bill, by Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles), stalled last month on a 19-19 Senate vote, but Torres was given permission to take it up again.

Under the bill, school districts could be barred from signing contracts that provided for the broadcasting of advertisements to students during school hours.

Channel One is a 12-minute program supplied to schools about 192 days a year by the Whittle Communications Corp. The show includes two minutes of ads.

Seventy to 80 California public schools and about the same number of private schools use the program now, said William L. Rukeyser, a spokesman for the state Dept. of Education.

Supporters say Channel One is an important tool for teachers. Critics say selling portions of the school day to advertisers sets a bad precedent and sends the wrong message to students.

“The issue… is the principle of what should take place in the classroom,” said Torres, adding that the programming amounts to six days of instruction a year.

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