WASHINGTON - June 7 - “Our students are not for sale!” That’s the message the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is urging school districts to send to BusRadio, a new commercial radio network that is being marketed to Massachusetts school districts. BusRadio is offering to equip school buses to play specially designed broadcasts. In return, students in grades K-12 will be forced to listen to ads, corporate-sponsored contests, and promotions for BusRadio’s commercial website.
In a letter sent today to all 346 Massachusetts superintendents, CCFC urged them not to sign their districts up for BusRadio. The letter noted that while BusRadio claims it will make busses safer, its true purpose is to advertise to children on their way to and from school. On its website, BusRadio boasts that it will take “take targeted student marketing to the next level” and provide companies with a “captive audience” who, unlike listeners to commercial radio, are unable to change the station during ads.
“Commercial marketing is a factor in myriad problems facing children today, from childhood obesity to youth violence to precocious and irresponsible sexuality,” said CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn, author of Consuming Kids. “We hope that school communities will protect the health and well-being of their students by saying no to BusRadio.”
BusRadio broadcasts will feature eight minutes of advertisements and two minutes of sponsored contests per hour. In addition, BusRadio is offering advertisers the option to sponsor entire blocks of programming or provide a celebrity disc jockey (who can then promote a brand, movie, or music). Because it is not monitored by the Federal Communications Commission, BusRadio can feature music that they are paid to play. Broadcasts will promote BusRadio’s website which will feature even more advertising, allow students to download music, and purchase items from the BusRadio on-line store. BusRadio is also promoting its website as a place where companies can conduct market research with children, and it appears that the site will be used to collect student’s personal information.
“In essence, BusRadio programming will consist of non-stop advertising in one form or another, from which children will have no escape,” said Dr Linn. “Their lives are already saturated with marketing. It’s essential that we work together to stop this latest escalation in the commercial assault on children.”
The complete text of CCFC’s letter can be found at http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pressreleases/lettertosuperintendents.pdf.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC supports the rights of children to grow up – and the rights of parents to raise them – without being undermined by rampant commercialism. For more information, please visit www.commercialfreechildhood.org.