"Got-to-Be, Got-to-Be, Dom-in-o's!": The Semantics of Student Responses to TV Commercials
Roy F. Fox
"What's advertised on Channel One?"
"Cinnaburst," replied Eric, a ninth-grader. "You know--that gum with those little red that and--"
"No," injected Lisa, "those are flavor crystals."
Eric paused, muttered, "Oh yeah, flavor crystals." He then quickly continued describing the other ads he'd seen on Channel One television, which beams eight minutes of news and two minutes of MTV-esque commercials to eight million students daily.
When Lisa corrected her classmate with the commercial's exact wording, the other students nodded in agreement. In their world, nothing strange had occurred; all was humdrum normal. These students live in the world of Channel One television--a world which requires them to watch two minutes of commercials each school day, for M&M's, Snickers, Skittles, Gatorade, Nike shoes, Donkey Kong video games, Doritos chips, and other products.
Since 1989, Channel One, recently sold by Whittle Communications to K-III Communications, has broadcast a ten-minute newscast with two minutes of commercials. In exchange for receiving the Channel One broadcast, schools promise that 90 percent of the students will watch Channel One for 92 percent of the time; that each program must be watched in its entirety; that a show cannot be interrupted; and that teachers cannot turn the program off. Schools must submit attendance records to this corporation to verify their end of the deal. Also, schools receive approximately $50,000 worth of installed electronic hardware, such as a color television set for each classroom, a satellite dish (only capable of picking up Channel One's signal), and VCRs. Schools can use the