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Whittle Communications says it has signed up 1,500 schools for its "Channel One" news show for high-school students, far exceeding the number the company said it would need to proceed with a nationwide launch of the program.

The Knoxville, Tenn.-based media company had set a goal of signing up 1,000 schools by the target start-up date of March 1990.

Plans for the 12-minute daily show to include two minutes of paid commercials have prompted calls from educators over the past year for schools to boycott the program. State education officials in California and New York have already effectively banned the program in their public schools.

The participating schools come from 29 states, Whittle announced last month. A major attraction for schools is Whittle's donation to them of a satellite dish, videocassette recorders, and classroom television sets in exchange for showing "Channel One" to students each day.

Whittle has secured some $172 million in advertising sales for the program so far, officials said.

The company expects the show to be reaching 7,000 to 8,000 schools, with an enrollment of 6 million students, by December 1990.

The program will be part of Whittle's Educational Network, which will also include a channel for noncommercial educational programming for students and a professional-development channel for educators. The Public Broadcasting Service recently decided not to participate in the noncommercial channel.

Every month, the major broadcast and cable television networks air hundreds of educational programs for students. Now there is a new guide to help teachers decide which programs may be useful in the classroom or for homework assignments.

Connect: Teaching with Television is a glossy magazine with detailed listings, by subject area, of upcoming programs. History teachers, for example, can get advance notice about the "American Experience" series on PBS or a Vietnam documentary on Home Box Office.

The monthly magazine also carries feature stories on educational programming and innovative uses of TV in the classroom, plus teaching guides for some shows.

Connect, produced by the Boston-based Crosby Vandenburgh Group, is being distributed to schools and teachers primarily through local cable-TV operators. A number of the larger cable-system operators, including Tele-Communications Inc. and Continental Cablevision, are distributing the premiere issue on a pilot basis locally or nationwide.

More information about subscriptions is available from Barbara Emerson at the Crosby Vandenburgh Group, (617) 424-7700.--mw

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