‘KNN’: Philippine youth produce their own TV programming
MANILA/NEW YORK, 4 November 2004 – On Saturday morning TV in the Philippines, 17-year-old Athea talks about the infamous but delicious local fruit, the durian. Later, a young reporter discusses how tribal wars disrupt children's schooling and make young people feel unsafe in their own homes. These are some of the many features shown on the ‘Kabataan News Network’ or KNN, whose content is produced entirely by young people – a first for the Philippines.
This is not the only first for KNN. It is also the first – and so far only – Philippine TV programme to have active bureaus all over the country. Furthermore, KNN is the first programme to feature children from indigenous communities and varying ethnic and religious backgrounds. The programme is presented in an entertaining way, providing lively coverage of the things that matter most to young people.
In the Philippines, KNN is the centrepiece of UNICEF’s communication work for adolescents. UNICEF had previously been training kids in video production with great results but there was not an effective outlet for their productions.
In 2003 this changed: Workshops were organized to help young people create a new programme to broadcast their own productions. The name Kabataan News Network or KNN was chosen by the young people themselves. KNN started with 6 bureaus and has now grown to 12. The Probe Media Foundation (PMF) is UNICEF's main implementing partner.
The main objectives of this initiative are: to change the perception of young people in society; to give them a chance to demonstrate their capacities; to create a powerful youth-to-youth communication platform, with a view to fighting HIV/AIDS among young people; and to link marginalized youth populations (remote, indigenous, Muslim) with mainstream national media.
"KNN features issues that regular media do not inlcude in their reports," says Cynthia, a 17-year-old reporter.
PMF provides training for the young people who act as reporters for the show. The organization also edits the packages and compiles the overall show each week according to scripts written by the young reporters and producers. Stories falls into various categories: "my society," "my environment," "my life" and "my friends." Mini-segments cover fads, youth-on-the-street interviews, young people with exceptional achievements, hobbies and editorial stands on current issues. Regardless of category, all stories address child rights and issues around adolescent development.
In the very competitive Philippine TV market, Kabataan (KNN) is now rated 3rd out of 10 channels in its premier time slot (Saturday 10 a.m.), with an average audience in the capital city alone of 70,000 - 100,000 households. And the numbers keep increasing. Nickelodeon, the global children's channel, was so impressed with the quality of KNN it has started to air segments in a regular feature called: KNN on Nick. The programme has quickly established itself as a huge success with adolescents throughout the country.
“When people find out that KNN stories are done by kids, they are amazed! Now people know that kids can do it!" says Nicai, a 14-year-old KNN reporter.
The young people of KNN have set a goal of getting a firm place in the mainstream media for their own voices. Time will tell how the programme changes the perception of young people in society, and also changes their own perception of themselves.