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home->Campaigns->Safeguard our students -> News
Commercial Alert June 12, 2002
Commercial Alert announced today that the Seattle School Board won the
National Ad Slam Contest, which awards a $5,000 prize to a school or
school district for the best and most creative effort to expel
advertising and commercialism from school during the 2001-2 school year.
The prize honors the work of the Citizens' Campaign for Commercial-Free
Schools, which led the effort against commercialism in the Seattle
Last November, in response to Citizens' Campaign organizing and
advocacy, the Seattle School Board set a new policy on advertising and
commercial activities that will remove Channel One, a televised
in-school marketing program, from all Seattle public schools by the
2004-5 school year. The new policy also prohibits advertising on school
property (with exceptions for school newspapers, yearbooks and library
materials) and restricts the display of corporate logos.
"The award goes to the citizen heroes at the Citizens' Campaign for
protecting captive audiences of impressionable schoolchildren from the
marketing of junk food, violent entertainment, soda pop and video
games," said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert. "They
are making sure that Seattle schoolchildren are not for sale."
"The Seattle victory shows that a broad-based coalition of parents,
youth, teachers, workers, elected officials and community leaders can
successfully fight the corporatization of public schools," said Brita
Butler-Wall, executive director of the Citizens' Campaign for
"I'm thrilled about the collaboration between the Seattle School
District and the Citizens' Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools that
resulted in a policy protecting our students from inappropriate
commercial activity," said Nancy Waldman, president of the Seattle
"This award is really about health," said Gary Goldbaum, MD, MPH,
Chronic Disease & Injury Control Officer, Public Health - Seattle & King
County. "Through its commitment to providing a healthier environment,
Seattle Public Schools is promoting not only a better learning
environment, but also a healthier population of young people who will be
The National Ad Slam Contest is endorsed by the National Council of the
Churches of Christ in the USA, Adbusters Media Foundation, Bioneers,
Center for a New American Dream, Center for Media & Democracy, Center
for Media Education, Center for Science in the Public Interest,
Citizens' Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools, Citizens for Media
Literacy, Commercialism in Education Research Unit, Consumers Union,
Junkbusters, The Motherhood Project of the Institute for American
Values, Mothering Magazine, New Mexico Media Literacy Project,
Obligation, Organic Consumers Association, Public Citizen, Seeds of
Simplicity and the TV-Turnoff Network.
Commercial Alert's mission is to keep the commercial culture within its
proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting
the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and
democracy. For more information about advertising, marketing and
commercialism in schools, see Commercial Alert's website is at
The Citizens Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools is a Seattle-based
non-profit organization devoted to protecting Washington children and
youth from commercialism in school. Their website is at
Following is an article in yesterday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer about
the National Ad Slam Contest.
Schools getting $5,000 for switching off the ads
by Kathy Mulady
An anti-commercialism group in Oregon will award the Seattle School
Board $5,000 for tuning out Channel One and dumping other in-school
Last November, board members voted to phase out Channel One, a
12-minute, daily school news program that includes two minutes of
advertising. The board also adopted a policy aimed to remove blatant
advertising from soft drink machines, sports fields, gyms and school
The award will be presented to school board members tomorrow by
Commercial Alert. It is the first award to be given by the
Portland-based group, which was organized in part to fight advertising
in public schools. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader is chairman of its
board of directors.
Channel One, which reaches about 8 million students, is one of the
organization's main targets.
"We view Channel One as the most egregious form of in-school
commercialism in the country," said Gary Ruskin, executive director of
Commercial Alert. "Corporations see the gold and are sprinting into the
schools to try to market to these students. Kids are in school to learn,
not to shop."
Channel One, which has been used in some Seattle public schools since
1991, is shown in classrooms in about half the district's high schools
and middle schools. It offers about 10 minutes of news and
current-events programming and two minutes of commercials. In exchange,
the schools receive free televisions, VCRs and cable connections.
Schools will phase out the Channel One program, ending it in 2004.
Nancy Waldman, president of the school board, said she doesn't know if
the schools will be asked to return the equipment. However, the board is
planning a levy in 2004 to replace some that is expected to be lost.
The school board hasn't decided what it will do with the $5,000.
Board member Dick Lilly wasn't on the board when the anti-advertising
plan was approved, but supports the no-ads policy.
"The district made a huge mistake when they first allowed it," he
"It dilutes the curriculum. That's what's pernicious about it."
Commercial Alert says the school news program is fraught with
commercials for "junk food, overpriced sneakers and video games."
But Channel One describes the advertisements as mainly for skin
cleanser, clothes, military recruiting and anti-drug messages.
"We have tremendous support among educators; 12,000 schools nationwide
have renewed their contract with us in the last three years," said Jeff
Ballabon, a spokesman for Primedia, the parent company of Channel One.
Waldman said she was initially skeptical about the need to remove
advertising from schools, viewing it more as an opportunity to teach
students to be savvy, wary consumers.
Parents' groups and especially the Citizens Campaign for Commercial-Free
Schools, which nominated the school board for the award, convinced her
"The more I thought about it, the more I realized that people entrust
their kids to us. Corporations making money on a captive audience is
morally wrong," Waldman said. "School should be a safe haven from
advertising for these kids."
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