NBC, Channel One classmates


NEW YORK -- "Channel One News," the nearly 20-year-old news program aimed at millions of American pupils inside the classroom, is moving its production to New York in a new partnership with NBC News.

The 12-minute daily show, which has been available since 1989 to nearly 7 million middle- and high-school students in 11,000 schools, will be produced at Rockefeller Center in conjunction with NBC Prods. beginning in the fall. The move follows parent company Channel One's April acquisition by Alloy Media and Marketing after a rocky and sometimes controversial run.

Alloy CEO Matt Diamond said the NBC partnership would give "Channel One News" resources that the show would never have been able to acquire on its own. NBC News vp strategic initiatives Lyne Pitts said that the alliance will give NBC News a chance to explore how a new generation of viewers consume news.

Pitts said that when Channel One was acquired, NBC News let Alloy know that it would be interested in a partnership. NBC News not only does work under its own banner but also for such other entities as Discovery, A&E and the History Channel.

"They had expressed a lot of interest in the past in various efforts, and we knew they would be able to put production value behind it," Diamond said. "We could never have afforded that as a stand-alone. Their willingness to invest in the partnership, it really is an opportunity for us."

Channel One's production unit will move from Washington to New York, where it will be housed within NBC's production unit. The staff will be a mixture of Channel One and NBC employees, as many as 30 in all. Ultimate editorial control will rest with Channel One.

That's important to Diamond, who said that improving Channel One's editorial quality had begun under president and CEO Judy Harris and would continue under Alloy. Channel One debuted in 1989 as the first news program that was beamed directly into schools; in exchange for TV equipment for each school, Channel One provided a 10-minute news program daily with two minutes of ads. Those ads proved somewhat controversial over the years, though Diamond said that Alloy's aim was to run ads and PSAs in that time and wouldn't, for example, irresponsibly promote fatty products.

"This affords us from a commercial perspective to have a very good business model without looking to commercialism at the expense of these students," Diamond said.

Pitts said there won't be that much NBC on-air talent working for the Channel One show, though she didn't rule it out in extraordinary circumstances. Valuable for NBC News is the chance to see how to produce news for the 12- to 17-year-old.

"We're always looking at the next generation of news viewers. Certainly that's a priority as we look at how we're going to be delivering news in the future," Pitts said.
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