The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Joe Godwin Joins the Board

Long term supporter of CMF Joe Godwin explains why now is the right time to get more involved.

I’m really pleased to have joined the board of CMF. I’ve supported the Foundation for many years, as a lifetime patron and attendee at events. But my work at the BBC meant it was hard for me to be as involved as I would have liked. Now I’ve packed in being paid, and have no master bar my Whippet, it’s great to finally be able to do and say what I like!

I’ve been involved in children’s media since 1989 when I joined the BBC as a trainee assistant producer. CMF Chair Anna Home gave me my first job, and CMF Director Greg Child’s was my first boss, on Record Breakers.  So, it must all be destiny – or comeuppance, one or the other.

I worked on a wide range of programmes, including Saturday morning shows Going Live and Live and kicking, and got my first producer job on Blue Peter. I was then responsible for Children’s Presentation, and spent five years at Nickelodeon. There I was Head of Original Production, until it became clear that was never going to be a meaningful occupation, and so I was made Director of Interactive.

I returned to BBC Children’s to run in-house entertainment production, and then added the factual slate. In 2009, I became director of BBC Children’s. Just two years later, giddy with optimism, we moved the entire department to Salford.

When I left BBC Children’s in 2015 to try my hand at other things in other places, CBBC and CBeebies were still clear leaders of a large and largely linear pack. But gaming, streamers and social media were beginning to make bigger inroads into children’s screen time, and the BBC was the last-remaining big spender on UK factual, drama and entertainment content made especially for children.

In the past 8 years, things haven’t got much rosier for kids media in the UK. The YACF induced the poor commercial broadcasters to dip their toes back into UK kids’ production, and then got shut down; the BBC has moved away from live action UK content towards more animation; and Government and industry still don’t seem to know what we ought to do about online protection of children, or how much they have the appetite for.

Add to that growing child poverty and inequality, a war in Europe and a pandemic: kids in the UK need, possibly more than ever, stories focussed on their experience and their needs. But such content is getting thinner on the ground and is struggling to reach the young citizens who need it.

My personal view is that regulators have let too many PSB broadcasters, with their privileged use of valuable spectrum, off the hook when it comes to kids’ content. The trade-off for this privilege should be that they don’t need bribing to do it, and they should be required to do more. And of course, the BBC children’s content should be cherished and protected, but Ofcom mustn’t let the BBC join a race to the overcrowded bottom.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that there’s a bigger need than ever for the work of the CMF, and I’m really looking forward to entering the fray.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)