The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

APPG Meeting – 5th September 2023

Brief digest of the topic discussed at 5th September 2023 APPG Meeting

This is not an official publication of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees. All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. The views expressed in this report are those of the group.

The first of this session's Children's Media and the Arts APPG meetings took place on the 5th September - the day after Parliament returned from the summer recess.

Chaired by Baroness Benjamin, this third in a series of meetings to inform Parliamentarians about the current state of the kids' TV sector, featured a presentation from Lucy Murphy Director of Kids Content and Alistair Law, Director of Policy at Sky.

Lucy Murphy outlined Sky's strategy to create content that will fascinate and entertain kids while gaining parental approval for its public service value. It's about building customer satisfaction with quality and range. The core of their offer to children is the on-demand service SkyKids .

However, Sky uses all the technology at its disposal and its wide range of content genres to draw kids into the Sky experience.

So Sky has used its sports channel to include young reporters at F1 events, its news channel to carry documentary and news coverage for kids. And Sky Arts to create cultural content for distribution in schools.

The Sky platform also carries partner channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Lucy Murphy works across all the relationships to integrate and enhance the overall offer to children with the ultimate aim of increasing customer approval - satisfaction from parents.

They have also gone against the current trend and launched a channel for pre-school children earlier this year, recognising the continuing enthusiasm for linear content in that age-group. They are the only organisation to launch a new linear channel in recent times. Other organisations have taken their children's content online. CITV Channel has been replaced by content on the ITVX on-demand service and similar plans have been discussed for the CBBC Channel on iPlayer.

Questioners at the meeting wondered why ITV didn't take the same approach as Sky to the younger audience, instead of cutting back commissioning of kids' content and replacing their children's channel with an on-demand service. An ITV spokesperson said that the move to ITVX was inevitable. When average viewing figures on CITV dropped to just 4,000 viewers per programme it became unsustainable as a platform for advertising sales. As an ad-funded business ITV has to take a different view from Sky.

There were, however, some at the meeting who questioned why ITV could not use some of its significant profit to support its public service commitment to the children's audience.

Baroness Benjamin summed up by praising Sky for bringing some positive news about funding, support, and quality content into the current "dark" situation in the industry. She also thanked CMF for setting up an Industry  Summit to try to achieve a concerted approach to government, as she has long advised the industry to speak with one voice - and loudly!

Full minutes of the meeting

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)