YNN Targets Captive Audience in Schools

British Columbia Teachers federation February 1999

Canadian public and private secondary schools are the targets for a national marketing campaign to require students to watch television advertising daily. The campaign, launched in early February 1999, invites secondary schools to broadcast a student news network called YNN in exchange for TVs, VCRs, computers, and satellite dishes. YNN offers schools a daily 12.5 minute news broadcast designed to "provide young people with awareness of the political, economic, scientific and environmental events" that includes 2.5 minutes of commercials.

YNN is modelled on the U.S. Youth News Network, Channel One, which is broadcast in over 40% of American schools. Eight million students watch two minutes of advertisements each day. That adds up to one full day per year. Advertisers pay approximately $200, 000 for each 30 seconds on air. Schools are monitored closely; if students do not watch the program, the equipment is removed.

This is not the first time YNN has targeted the Canadian market. Previous attempts, in 1991 and 1992, were unsuccessful as Canadian educators proved more resistant than their American counterparts. The current campaign appears to have a stronger backing, however. It is run by Athena Educational Partners (AEP) Inc. The AEP partners include Gage Educational Publishing Company, Star Choice, Telescene Film Group Inc., Cancom, and BKM Research and Development Inc.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation, Canadian Home and School and Parent-Teacher Federation, and the Association for Media Literacy are among groups that oppose YNN. Cable in the Classroom, an ad-free alternative to YNN, provides free cable with taping privileges for channels like Life Network, YTV, and CBC Newsworld.

Cash-strapped schools are vulnerable. However, schools must protect the learning environment and refuse to sell advertisers access to students.

If your school is approached by YNN, please inform your local president. For more information, contact Janet Amsden (871-1871 or 1-800-663-9163, local 1871, jamsden@