The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Joining the Children’s Media Foundation – Japhet Asher

New CMF executive committee member Japhet Asher brings a wealth of digital experience to the team. Here he explains why he wants to be involved.

I’m really pleased to be joining the executive committee at the Children’s Media Foundation to support digital and innovation activity.

It’s a critical time for children’s media in the UK, as public service funding shrinks and new technologies run ahead of our ability to legislate protections for young audiences.  The long debated Online Safety Bill is a positive step but, in my opinion, it aims to address issues we have been struggling with for the last decade rather than those that we will face in the years ahead.  Immersive worlds, Machine Learning tools and AI-generated content based on personal profiles all present amazing opportunities and seriously dangerous challenges for educators, curators and content makers in children’s media.  CMF can be an important voice in influencing the rapid development of guardrails and best practice to protect and support our children in this next wave of change.

I’ve worked across genres, markets, platforms, continents, media, technologies and audiences over my career, but my consistent focus remains on connecting innovative creators, stories and ideas with target audiences in appropriate ways.  Nowhere is this work more important than in Children’s media.

For those who don’t already know me, I spent 20 years in the USA, where I made documentaries for HBO, ABC and PBS, created the animated TV storylab Liquid Television, which spun out both Beavis & Butthead and Aeon Flux, and developed the first on-demand video streaming platform for a joint venture of three American telcos.

When I returned to the UK, I was determined to work at the BBC, still the UK’s greatest calling card to the world, and was fortunate to meet Marc Goodchild, who asked me to lead integration of TV and interactive development for BBC Children’s.  It was a period of huge change for digital at the BBC – full website rebuilds, the first multiplatform brands, the case for apps, the Children’s iPlayer and more.  My final assignment was to make the case for and launch CBeebies and CBBC on YouTube.

I now focus on developing my own cross platform IP and consult on narrative, brand and technology strategies.  I’m also a partner in an early-stage technology start-up.  I’m known for my work using augmented reality and physical media, notably my 2019 Futurebook Book of the Year title, The Ghostkeeper’s Journal.  I’ve been a panelist over many years at CMC, CARTOON, and a variety of other festivals and conferences, and I’ve contributed articles to both the CMF’s Children’s Media Yearbook and its report on the future of public service media.

I look forward to bringing this range of experience and perspective to policy debates and contributing further in this new role with the CMF team, whose work I’ve long admired.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)