Whittle Communications has announced a 21-member "educators' advisory board" for "Channel One," the 12-minute in-school news program for teenagers that has caused considerable controversy because it includes commercial advertising.
Whittle also announced that it has signed up more than 500 schools to receive the program, which is set to make its national debut March 5.
The advisory panel includes a former national teacher of the year, Jay Sommer of New Rochelle, N.Y., and a former president of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Ben Ebersole.
The educators' board, announced late last month, is separate from the council of advisers announced in August for the Knoxville, Tenn.-based media company's Educational Network. That panel, which includes such luminaries as former U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell and Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, will advise on broader policy questions, a Whittle representative said.
Meanwhile, Turner Broadcasting System's "CNN Newsroom" program for students, the chief competitor to Whittle's "Channel One," announced last week that it is now being used in 2,000 schools. The 15-minute daily news program does not include commercials.
The Senate Commerce subcommittee on communications is considering an amendment that would require limits on advertising during children's programs on cable television that are identical to those proposed for broadcast television.
The panel recently held a hearing on the amendment introduced by Senator John Danforth, Republican of Missouri. The full committee has already passed a bill that would restore limits on advertising during children's programs to no more than 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays.
Cable-industry representatives told the subcommittee that they do not object to the limits, although they believe them to be unnecessary because, in general, the typical hour of children's programming on cable television is not as saturated with commercials as is a typical hour on broadcast television.
Geraldine R. Laybourne, president of Nickelodeon, a cable network for children and teenagers, said the network runs only seven minutes of national commercial time per hour.
The CBS television network has launched a series of one-minute reports on educational topics called "School's In," anchored by the veteran newsman Charles Kuralt. They appear daily on the network at 3:58 P.M. Eastern and Pacific time.--mw