The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

CMF – the busy three-year-old!

Once they’re on their feet toddlers get into everything.  And they develop so fast!

Three years into the life of the new organisation, CMF Director Greg Childs outlines the high points of 2014…

It’s hard to believe that CMF started life at the turn of the year 2011-12.  The founding figures on the Board and in the Executive Group were ambitious and optimistic, but we also tried to be realistic about just how much we could take on, as a small organisation with just a couple of part-time staff, very few resources, and faced with a multiplicity of issues in and around children and media.

Three years on I believe the organisation had made great progress.  We are known – certainly in political and press circles, and by the kids’ media industry – and we are respected. The All Party Parliamentary Group we run has attracted 75 MPs and Peers as members, all kept in touch with the issues by regular mailouts and meetings in the Palace of Westminster. When we recently put out a request for support for a letter to the Chancellorencouraging him on cultural grounds to bring in the children’s TV tax break, three Peers signed within hours of receiving the invitation.

Similarly six university professors signed up in support. It’s a symbol of how much progress has been made in bringing research closer to the industry, to policy makers and we hope over time to parents.  In March we launched Parent Portal – a service which digests some of the most valuable academic research into the key questions parents ask about their kids media habits – and helps them make informed decisions.  And in July we launched the Research Blog on the CMF website. It’s a place where researchers at all levels, and across disciplines such as media literacy, media policy, media practice and the business of kids’ media, can all compare notes, and connect.

Some of the other signatories to the Chancellor’s letter are industry and cultural figures, many of whom are also enthusiastic long-term founder patrons of the CMF, such as Russell T DaviesCressida Cowell and Anne Wood. We depend upon this group – along with supporters and patrons - for the donations which allow us to carry on our work. So if you think you can join them – please take a look at the options (and the benefits). In November our new CMF Fundraiser Rachel Krish joined the team, and she’s happy to discuss supporting CMF with individuals or companies.  You can contact her at: rachel@thechildrensmediafoundation.org

It’s been a year in which the CMF voice has been heard. Not just in the Chancellor’s letter, but in evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport on the future of the BBC, at the Westminster Media Forum on the future of funding in general, at various conferences around the country including the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield in July when we produced a session on the BBC Charter Review and contributed to others on children’s digital rights and the future of children’s film. And our own series of evening discussion events has continued to be popular and relevant. In short – we’re going a long way to fulfilling our aim of “changing the discourse around children’s media in the UK” – with more to follow in 2015.

There was also a particularly happy event in May 2014 – the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Play School –the first ever programme on BBC TWO. 150 guests enjoyed a spectacularly staged presentation of the programme’s history with clips, photos and a brilliant collection of memories and anecdotes from the many gathered stars of the show. A huge thank you to the volunteer team who pulled off this unique event, and to Alison Stewart, Kay Benbow and Joe Godwin from the BBC who stressed that it celebrated not only a very special programme, but the legacy of excellence in pre-school content production in the UK which continues to this day.

And some further thanks to close. Jayne Kirkham for her unceasing work on the APPG; Lynn Whitaker for her editorship of the Children’s Media Yearbook, about which we are justifiably proud; Hannie Kirkham for her determination to get this newsletter out every month, come hell or high water; and Colin Wardfor maintaining our research relationships and driving through the Parent Portal and Academic Research Blog. And to all the members of the Executive Group who contribute to the discussions, events, articles and relationship-building which are so vital to the success of the CMF – my special thanks.

If you think you can contribute too, let me know.

Greg Childs: director@thechildrensmediafoundation.org

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)