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At a glance: Philippines

Philippines youth journalists share their views through children’s TV network

© UNICEF Philippines/2006
A crew member from the Kabataan News Network, a youth-oriented project supported by UNICEF, tapes a segment for a feature story in a junkyard outside Manila.

By Rob McBride

Each December, UNICEF's International Children’s Day of Broadcasting involves young people worldwide in media programming and production, giving them a chance to express their opinions on major issues and develop new skills. Here is one in a series of stories about youth media.

MANILA, 6 November 2006 – The Kabataan News Network (KNN) is the centerpiece of UNICEF’s communications work for and with adolescents in the Philippines. The network’s production crew consists of camera people, reporters and production assistants, all of whom are in their teens.

The stories on KNN are selected by young people, who then report the issues with a youth audience in mind. It is a formula that has proven to be a major success with the Saturday morning prime-time audience, reaching up to 100,000 households in Manila alone. Nickelodeon, the global children’s channel, was so impressed by the quality of the work that it created a regular feature called ‘KNN on Nick.’

Established two years ago in partnership with the Probe Media Foundation, KNN developed out of the success of the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting. As a result of the foundation’s commitment to youth participation in children’s TV programming, youth voices in the Philippines now air not only on one day in December, but also on two national networks every week of the year.

© UNICEF Philippines/2006
A Kabataan News Network crew interviews a group of children who survive by scavenging in a junkyard.

Focus on marginalized youth

For a recent assignment outside of Manila, the crew was on location in a junkyard. They were covering the plight of child scavengers who make a living collecting and selling scrap materials in their bicycle carts.

The scavengers had been facing a clampdown by the local authorities, and the crew learned that some of the children’s carts had been confiscated.

“Child labour in the Philippines is really a big issue,” said KNN reporter Joseph Cataan, 17. “According to the studies, there are more than 3 million children working who are under-age.”

With reports like this, KNN focuses on the lives of marginalized children and adolescents, creating a powerful youth-to-youth communication platform in the mainstream media. As the country’s first children’s network with national coverage, KNN now has 12 bureaus throughout the Philippines. 

“Every culture, like my own, is different,” said camera operator Christine Apin, 18. “But KNN gives an opportunity to young people outside of metro Manila to express what they want to say.”




October 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Rob McBride visits the youth-oriented Kabataan News Network in Manila, the Philippines.
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