Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bus Radio: Good or Evil?

Via the Boston Globe:

A Massachusetts company wants to beam commercial radio broadcasts into school buses every morning and afternoon, the latest mingling of education and commerce to spark outcry as the firm lobbies school districts across the state to sign contracts for the fall.

Needham-based Bus Radio said yesterday that it has signed up school systems with nearly 100,000 school children in Massachusetts and other states for the service next school year. The company says it is offering a cutting-edge service in which children select music online for their district's buses, drivers can finish their routes with their passengers quiet, and school districts get cash from the company. Bus Radio can sell advertising time to businesses trying to reach young consumers

But critics say such arrangements exploit captive young ears already inundated by advertising pitches morning to night. Yesterday, one consumer group sent Governor Mitt Romney a letter urging him to prevent the company from working with Bay State districts, while activists flooded the state Education Department with protest e-mails.

Not knowing the specifics of the actual advertising content being proposed, I won't offer any commentary on this, either for or against, at this point. I can definitely understand the arguments being made on both sides of the fence here.

On one hand, it would open up a new source of revenue for cities and towns struggling to meet their local budgetary demands. On the other hand, you would be exposing kids to advertising, and possibly even some musical content, that some parents might deem unsuitable for their children to listen to.

That said, the article does offer us this quality quote from our esteemed Governor and presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney:

"You would be intentionally interfering with the ability of students to read, pray, or do homework on the school bus."

Yeah, I'll take "Things I've Never Even Considered Doing On a School Bus" for $400, please, Alex.