School Bus Radio Program Plays Its Last Tune

A company that broadcast music and commercials in thousands of school buses is shutting down.

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BusRadio, a controversial radio programming system for school buses that was investigated during the summer by the Federal Communications Commission, is ceasing operations, a company spokesman confirmed yesterday.

According to a report released by School Transportation News, an industry publication, the economy is largely responsible for the closure of the four-year-old media company, which broadcast music, contests, public service announcements, and commercials to approximately 10,000 school buses and 1 million students in 24 states.

Executives at the company, which claimed to be the "first and only radio show delivered exclusively to school buses nationwide," could not be reached for comment.

In May, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a national coalition of healthcare professionals, educators, advocacy groups, and parents, requested that Congress initiate a review of the service to determine the age-appropriateness of its music and the effects of its advertisements on students and bus drivers. In a report issued earlier this month, the FCC wrote that an "overwhelming majority" of comments responding to a public notice indicated that the programming was harmful to children because of targeted advertisements and questionable content. However, because the company did not fall within its jurisdiction, the FCC did not rule against BusRadio; instead, the agency advised that the decision to use the service could best be made at the state or school district level.

Opponents of the company view yesterday's announcement that the service will no longer be broadcast as a cause for celebration.

"This is a tremendous victory for families and the growing movement to protect children from exploitative marketing," says Susan Linn, a psychologist and a CCFC director. "No child should be forced to listen to advertising on their way to and from school."

Supporters of the programming said that it kept students calm and engaged during what could otherwise be hectic bus rides.

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education reform
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