The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Charter Renewal – the Great British Sell Off?

Anna Home, CMF Chair, reports...
The CMF is sponsoring a session at this year’s Children’s Media Conference which is looking at the BBC Charter Review, its likely outcomes and what they might mean for the future of children’s television in the UK. Opinions are being aired and voices raised on all sides about how the BBC should be funded and governed, so we want to make sense of it all and generate some useful feedback.The next two years will be crucial for the future of the BBC and by extension its children’s services. Some say it should become a subscription service; a publisher broadcaster; a licence-fee funded news service only. Some say it should have contestable funding; close in-house production… and the list goes on.  All this against a background of existing cuts which are still being implemented, a looming Scottish referendum, and a General Election next May.Much of this may be hot air and posturing, but we can’t ignore it. As far as kids’ output is concerned we are all aware of the importance of the BBC and the fact that, even given the constraints, it does a pretty good job (although there will always be room for improvement).The CMF, however, is concerned that given the impact of the current cuts and the likelihood of more to come, whatever happens to the licence fee, the children’s output will suffer again: in comparison with the ‘grown up’ departments it has always started from a lower budget base-line.

We’re also concerned that the Corporation undervalues the significance of its children’s output in the overall arguments for public service and public funding. It should, at the least, be protecting children’s from further cuts.  But the BBC needs to realise fully its value before that can happen, and little that they say and do currently suggests that they do…

We want to know what other interested parties think before we contribute to any future consultation process. To achieve this we’re undertaking a listening project with a range of stakeholders: the audience, parents, academics and educators, and of course the industry. The Charter Review session at CMC is the start of this project and it will continue over the next 6 months.

We want to hear as many voices as possible to add to the general debate. So if you are going to be at CMC, come on Friday 4th July at 2pm and hear writer and presenter (and former children’s programmes director) Hardeep Singh Kohli paint a picture of the current options on the table, followed by responses from the panel: 

 After they have spoken the floor will be open to the audience and it’s the industry’s chance to give their views.If you can’t be there, look out for our survey, which will be coming soon.It’s a crucial moment for the BBC, the children’s services, and all of us who care about the future of children’s content in the UK. Make sure you have your say.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)