Hopes for boost to UK produced Children’s television

Save Kids’ Content and Pact set to celebrate an exciting leap forward in children’s television.

Phillip Schofield introduced popular Children’s BBC programming in the 1980s.

“Securing this legislative change is a huge achievement, but it’s now time for parents and the production industry to unite in ensuring that Ofcom uses its new powers to deliver more of the high quality children’s programming which this country is renowned for,”- Anne Wood CBE, the founder of Save Kids’ Content Campaign.

Save Kids’ Content and Pact will be holding a reception in the Houses of Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday the 12th July) to celebrate the passing of the amendment in the Digital Economy Act which has given Ofcom the powers necessary to revitalise children’s television.

This is also a chance for industry experts and politicians to discuss the future of the genre, and how Ofcom should use their new powers to deliver the type of programming British children deserve.

The campaign has been lead by Anne Wood, the chief executive of Ragdoll Productions, whose television achievements include Rosie and Jim for CITV, Teletubbies for CBBC, and In The Night Garden for Cbeebies.

This event will be hosted by the Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott, and attended by former Play School presenter Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE, who tabled the Bill in the House of Lords.

Emu’s Pink Windmill Show with Carol Lee Scott and Rod Hull entertained youngsters tuned to CITV in the 1980s.

Also in attendance will be supportive actors and TV presenters, including actress Annette Badland who has starred in shows such as BBC One’s Doctor Who and ATV’s Crossroads, former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis MBE, and radio DJ Pat Sharpe who is best known to telly audiences for his Children’s ITV series Funhouse.

Thanks to the legal change, Ofcom now has the responsibility to impose criteria concerning the provision of children’s programming on Public Service Broadcasters which in the UK are the BBC, ITV in England and Wales, STV in Scotland and UTV in Northern Ireland. Other national networks with PSB requirements are Channel 4 and Channel 5. The reception will therefore aim to launch the discussion of what the broadcast regulator could negotiate, in order to shape a better future for the genre.

“I know that if all parts of the industry work together and if we get this right, we can lift the lid of a huge well of untapped potential existing in our creative industries,” said Baroness Benjamin.

Teletubbies entertained audiences in the 1990s on CBBC mornings.

The groups aim for future progress taking the form of a consultation period between Ofcom and broadcasters, the children’s production sector and the general public, on the new powers. The objective is to revive the production sector by encouraging a greater variety and higher quality of homemade children’s programming. 

Since 2002 the production of original British children’s television content has declined by almost half. Spending by commercial PSBs has fallen by 93% and hours shown have dropped dramatically, with ITV’s annual children’s output falling from 1,005 hours 325 hours between 1998 and 2015 and Channel 4’s falling from 971 to 311 hours. Only 1% of children’s programming is original and British-made, the rest being repeats and imports.

Both ITV and BBC dropped the traditional afternoon children’s programming from their main networks in the 2000s, stating the way young viewers take-in programmes has shifted from dedicated time slots, with both broadcasters operating dedicated children’s channels and online content instead.

Tommy Boyd introduced the Children’s ITV programming in the 1990s.
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