The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Campaigns

The CMF campaigns for:

  • Recognition of the uniquely important role media plays in the lives of young people.
  • Greater range and diversity in children’s media, through regulation, funding initiatives or other means - emphasising the need for UK-produced content.
  • The right for children and young people to access media without harm.

The CMF lobbies Parliament and Government, and responds to public consultations.

Latest campaign action

2024

February

The CMF-convened Children's Media Summit on February 28th was the launch point for a new CMF campaign to persuade government and Ofcom to take seriously the impacts of the mass-migration of the children's and youth audience away from broadcast television to online, on-demand viewing - impacts on the media ecosystem, on the children's well-being and on society and culture. The campaign calls upon all interested parties to sign up to support the CMF briefing document which outlines the issues and proposes solutions.

As a member of the Citizens Forum for Public Service Media coalition, CMF contributed to a meeting at the House of Lords to lobby for better provision for public service content in the Media Bill.

2023

December

CMF responded to the Ofcom consultation on the Future of TV Distribution, noting the significant shift in preferences amongst the older children's and teen audiences to online on-demand viewing, but also posing the question "how many children will it be OK to leave behind when conventional television is "switched off". Our response proposes intervention to ensure even the most disadvantaged can access broadband internet before switch off takes place.

On 12th December, Shadow Minister Stephanie Peacock tabled an Amendment to the Media Bill requiring the government to investigate the special issues related to the children's audience within six months of the Bill becoming law. This was not passed. But the intervention shows political commitment to new thinking following briefings by CMF.

November

With the support of the consultative group of broadcasters and industry associations, CMF met senior officials at Ofcom to present the Analysis of the Issues related to children's changed viewing and its effects on the industry.

CMF briefed Baroness Benjamin in the House of Lords and the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Thangam Debbonnaire with our views on the crisis and how the Media Bill fails to address the key issues with the young audience. In the debate on the Media Bill on 21st November Thangam Debbonnaire spoke at length about the failure of the Bill to address the "lost" children's audience.

October

The consultative group met 3 times in the Autumn of 2023 and discussed a range of options which could be taken to a Summit meeting and presented to Ofcom as part of its children's review, and to politicians and government.

August

Industry concerns at the CMC resulted in the Children's Media Foundation proposing a gathering of all interested parties in the children's media industry - including broadcasters, industry associations, audience advocacy bodies, producers, distributors and writers. The Children's Industry Summit process started with a consultative group of broadcasters and industry associations that met on 12th September.

July

CMF staged both the Question Time and the Debate sessions at the Children's Media Conference in Sheffield. These and conversations amongst industry delegates revealed a high level of concern that the feared "collapse in commissioning" had arrived, as PSBs backed away from the positions they took when supported by the Young Audiences Content Fund and the BBC prioritised budget cuts and animation, while even the streaming services were cutting back.  At the same time there was major concern about the significant loss of the 7+ audience  from the traditional broadcast channels to streaming services and video-sharing platforms such as YouTube and TikTok.

June

In late June the response from the DCMS to CMF and broadcasting minister John Whittingdale to Baroness Benjamin  indicated that the concerns outlined below were not the intention of the draft Bill.  It was clarified that the PSBs would still be assessed across the board, but that Ofcom would retain the power to insist upon each individual broadcaster achieving quotas for commissioning new content.

Baroness Benjamin wrote to the Secretary of State, after a briefing from CMF, to seek clarification of elements in the draft Media Bill which suggested that regulation of the Public Service Broadcasters will revert to the situation created by the 2003 Broadcasting Act which allowed Ofcom to demand greater commitment to children's programmes by the Public Service Broadcasters only when commissioning of new programmes fell below "sufficient" levels when all were "taken together". This had severely tied the hands of the regulator. However in 2017 the "Benjamin Amendment to the Digital Economy Act had empowered Ofcom to assess PSBs individually and require each of them to create more content when levels were deemed too low.  This had worked well hand-in-hand with the Young Audiences Content Fund financial incentive.  But, as admitted by the broadcasters commissioning will diminish without the Fund.  CMF also sought clarification from civil servants responsible for the Bill

April

CMF is a member of the Children's Coalition pursuing child-focused amendments to the Online Safety Bill. The coalition has recently tabled a series of amendments in the House of Lords where the Bill is in its committee stage. They are intended to protect children more effectively than the Bill currently provides for - particularly in relation to age-verification on pornography websites and the powers Ofcom will have to enforce good practice that will enhance child-well-being.

February

A meeting of the APPG for Children's Media and the Arts on the topic of "What's Happening in Kids" welcomed Patricia Hidalgo, Director of Children's and education to Parliament to discuss her commissioning priorities. She outlined a three point plan to support the children's media industry in the UK which included an enhanced tax incentive, with potential further enhancements for UK-focused content, and the need for prominence for public service broadcaster content on the streaming platforms. Industry representatives at the meeting expressed concern that the plan ignored the need for a Fund to replace the YAC Fund. Subsequently increased tax incentives for animation and children's content were announced in the Budget and prominence on streamers is included in the draft Media Bill.

"The Children's Media Foundation reacted to the publication of the final evaluation report for the Young Audiences Content Fund. CMF Chair, Anna Home said:  “The Report testifies to the resounding success of the Young Audiences Content Fund pilot. It's a powerful argument for continuing the funding of children’s media content that reflects UK children’s lives and their culture. The fund fulfilled its remit to address the deficit in production of high quality public service content for children and young people in this country, to work for the growth of UK production companies in all their diversity and to enhance the children’s broadcasting landscape. It will - and already is being - be sorely missed"

2022

December

CMF organised a meeting of the Children's Media and the Arts APPG to hear from the commercial public service broadcasters their plans for content commissioning for young people after the loss of support from the Young Audiences Content Fund. The prospects were not good with ITV, and Channel 4 admitting they would reduce commissioning and Channel 5 committing to do its best to maintain, but there could be no guarantees.

CMF supported an initiative to develop an ambitious new plan for a comprehensive strategy for children's media in the UK. This response to the loss of the Young Audiences Content Fund grew out of a meeting of minds at the CMF-produced debate at the Children's Media Conference on the future of public service funding for kids' content.  Read about the UK Children's Media Plan...

November

As a member of the Children's Coalition pursuing child-focused amendments to the Online Safety Bill, CMF co-signs a letter to Secretary of State Michelle Donelan MP urging her to bring the stalled Bill before Parliament right away as otherwise it may fail to pass into law during this Parliamentary session

September

CMF has joined the Broadcast 2040 Campaign and has written to Ofcom in advance of the regulator's participation in the World Radiocommunications Conference 2023 pointing out the need to retain TV through an aerial for less well-off households, many of which will have children whose only viewing of TV services takes place on Digital Terrestrial TV.

CMF has responded to Ofcom's consultation on their plans to "Modernise the BBC's Operating Licence". Essentially the plans would take BBC children's content out of regulation and there would cease to be quotas requiring a certain number of orginal programmes.  CMF objected on a number of grounds.

August

CMF responded to a BBC Public Interest Test consultation on the future development of the iPlayer. We made strong representation that the BBC should give serious consideration to child-oriented design, marketing and additional content budget for the iPlayer if they had any hope of capturing the attention of their future licence fee payers.

April

CMF met DCMS Media and Creative Industries Minister Julia Lopez in April and there's some evidence that the government may take some action on the representations they received about the YAC Fund.

CMF responded to the Ofcom consultation about BBC Children's request to alter the quota for original productions on the CBBC channel from 72% of the total hours to 66% in 22-23, rising to 68% subsequently. This is to accommodate more acquired content on the channel which is needed as part of their strategy to include more animated series in their mix. CMF opposed this plan as it represents the second erosion of hours in recent years, and will adversely affect CBBC's distinctiveness and undermine its public service purposes.  Ofcom's final decision essentially gave the BBC what they asked for....

Members of the CMF Academic Advisory Board Prof. Jeanette Steemers and Dr Cynthia Carter also submitted a response, as did the Voice of the Listener and Viewer.

CMF Academic Advisory Board Members Dr Cynthia Carter and Dr Ashley Woodfall responded on our behalf to the IMPRESS consultation on their updated code of journalism standards, with particular reference to proposals in the code which focus on news and children. Read their response here.

March

The Young Audiences Content Fund Campaign Group open letter to Nadine Dorries reached 1000+ signatures and was sent by CMF to the Secretary of State with a request to rescind the decision on YAC Fund closure.

CMF responded to the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee's Inquiry into the future of funding for the BBC.

February

CMF co-ordinates the work of the Young Audiences Content Fund Campaign Group which organised an Open Letter to the Secretary of State expressing the concerns of individuals and organisations at the closure of the Fund.

January

The Young Audiences Content Fund closed by DCMS Secretary of State Nadine Dorries. CMF convened a campaign group of industry bodies, children's media professionals, academics and creatives to send an Open Letter to Nadine Dorries.

The campaign generated significant political support including questions in both Houses of Parliament and at Select Committee hearings.

 

Previous campaign activity >>

The Children's Media Foundation is at the forefront of fighting for the best in children's content and ensuring that it is fully diverse and representative. The children of today will shape our world and I'm pleased that the CMF is helping to give them the widest possible range of opportunities to do so.
Sir Lenny Henry C.B.E.

The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)