Will controversy put brakes on BusRadio?

The controversy over BusRadio is just heating up, and our advice to execs at the Needham, Mass.-based company is that those who ignore history are destined to repeat it—or whatever that saying is. If you haven’t read about it already, the company plans to stream music—and ads—into America’s school buses, and not surprisingly is meeting with some derision, even before its official launch. Adrants was among those reporting earlier this week that Commercial Alert, the ad watchdog organization, has sent a letter to Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in an attempt to help stop the company, well, in its tracks. Two Massachusetts school districts are quoted in this story as not participating, though, another, in Woburn, Mass., spouts the company line—that the programming makes kids quieter. Another argument in favor goes that the service, which does give a cut of its ad revenue to school districts, is better than some of the stations kids are forced to listen to when the playlist is left up to bus drivers. As for the history lesson, many of you may remember the experiences of Channel One, the Chris Whittle-developed in-school ad-supported TV station which has suffered from the taint of controversy even though its programming—unlike BusRadio’s—is educational. Since Channel One launched, the outcry over children being exposed to too much advertising has only grown louder. Here’s an idea for how BusRadio can appease hand-wringing parents and school principals everywhere: play Mozart.

—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor

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