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Don't Turn That Dial

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And while taxpayers are demanding more bang for their school buck, Channel One foes insist that paying teachers to keep kids' eyes glued to a TV screen is not the way to spend money. A study released this spring by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee found that Channel One costs $1.8 billion a year in national classroom time, including $300 million for the time spent watching commercials.

Close to 1,190 Colorado schools are already wired to receive free, educational newscasts and documentaries from CNN, the Weather Channel, the Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon and 36 other cable networks through Cable in the Classroom, a nonprofit arm of the cable industry that provides hookups and commercial-free shows (but no loaner TV sets) for schools.

GW could buy its own TVs and VCRs by dipping into the $250,000 in technology grants it's recently secured or the $80,000 in tech dollars approved for each school last fall by Denver voters. DPS's Career Education Center offers courses in movie and TV production. The Five Points Media Center also has a free media production program for high school students; this fall, the center will become the first community organization in the U.S. to join CNN's student bureau, and two of its half-hour documentaries will be cablecast nationwide on the CNN and HBO Family networks.

But Channel One supporters still feel that students should get their news the Channel One way. "My personal feeling is that many kids are going to see enough commercials throughout the week that a few more won't really make a difference," says Cherry. "It is too bad to take two minutes out of the school day, but I feel the newscast would be very important."

"We sent reporters to more than two dozen countries last year and have a staff of roughly 200," adds Tick of Channel One. "If seeing a couple of ads for Mars Bars is going to make that possible--okay.

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Gayle Worland