Ga. District To Pioneer Electronic Advertising Kiosks

By Mark Walsh — September 04, 1991 2 min read
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In search of new sources of funds for its cash-strapped schools, the DeKalb County, Ga., school district has agreed to allow a new form of in-school advertising aimed at students-- electronic message kiosks.

The suburban Atlanta school system, which enrolls 75,000 students in grades K-12, will become the first in its region--and possibly in the nation--to install the electronic advertising-message systems.

The kiosks, which were developed by the Atlanta firm TELADCO, will be draped over pay telephones in the district’s junior- and senior-high schools.

The DeKalb County school beard voted Aug. 12 to allow the firm to place the kiosks in its schools.

The kiosks include a small television screen with a continuous loop of five-second ads. An advertiser’s message may be seen in a school as often as 14,000 times a month, officials said.

In return for access to students in school hallways, the financially strapped district will receive 15 percent of advertising revenue, which TELADCO representatives have suggested could bring the school system as much as $300,000 a year.

Untroubled by Opposition

DeKalb school officials were untroubled by opposition to the move from some parents and educators who expressed concern about the growth of in-school advertising.

“There are those who argue that school should be totally out of the advertising realm,” said David Williamson, chairman of the DeKalb school board. “1 agree we should not allow it in the classrooms. But we don’t think there is any great breach of school trust when it is at the telephone at the end of the hall.”

The school system does not subscribe to “Channel One,” the Whittle Communications classroom news show that includes paid advertising. In fact, the school beard had to amend its strict policy barring any advertising in school in order to accept the message kiosks. The board also voted to accept electronic scoreboards sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company.

TELADCO has also installed its electronic message systems in malls and on the campus of an Atlanta college, officials said.

The company contracts with Southern Bell and other regional telephone companies for access to their pay phones.

TELADCO has targeted the school market for expansion. Last year, an agreement between the company and the superintendent of the Atlanta public schools to install the kiosks at 22 Atlanta high schools was later vetoed by the city’s school board. (See Education Week, Aug. 1, 1990.)

Opponents of advertising in the schools say they find the hallway kiosks no less offensive than commercial efforts that reach students in the classroom.

“Schools should be in the business of helping their students get a healthy skepticism of advertising,” said Charlotte Baecher, director of education services for Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine and Zillions, a youth edition.

“They just don’t have the right to sell access to the kids’ minds to advertisers,” she added. “By putting it in school, one of the things advertisers are getting is the implicit endorsement of the school.”

A version of this article appeared in the September 04, 1991 edition of Education Week as Ga. District To Pioneer Electronic Advertising Kiosks


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