The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Next Steps – CMF Response to Green Paper and Proposals for Change

This is a press release issued by CMF on Monday, 14th September.

The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF) welcomes the recent campaign letter to culture secretary John Whittingdale co-ordinated by members of the children’s production community and its contribution to the debate on the future of children’s content at the BBC, and in public service broadcasting in general. The letter stresses the enormous decline in originated programming suffered by the children’s audience over the last decade, and supports enhancement of BBC’s Children’s budgets. In light of recent BBC announcements about the proposed iPlay service, and ambitions to address a wider age-range than currently represented, the CMF fully supports the need to increase BBC Children’s budgets and is advocating annual increases over the ten-year Charter period. This will recognise that children’s budgets start from a lower base, so cuts are relatively more damaging. It will redress the imbalance which sees 19% of the UK population only receive 5% of the benefit of the Licence Fee. And it will emphasise the BBC’s long-term commitment to children and young people as one of their most important audiences.

The CMF does not support the suggestion in the Green Paper of a Contestable Fund for children’s content, as this is predicated on top-slicing the Licence Fee. However, we do advocate that the government immediately commissions research into the various aspects of an “Alternative Fund”. This should include: the sources of funding; the potential outlets for funded, or part-funded, content; the organisation and regulation required to operate it; and the criteria to ensure diverse, UK-focused content, relevant to all age ranges - especially the under-served over 10s. This research should encompass all possible funding options, such as the Lottery, levies, direct government grant and Licence Fee funding without ruling out anything until the potential and consequences are fully understood.

The creation of an Alternative Fund for children’s content has long been a policy of the CMF and we call upon the industry signatories of the campaign letter, to support our research proposal. If the government is reluctant to investigate any options beyond top-slicing, we will call upon the kids' media industry to join the CMF and other partners in funding the research directly, and as a matter of urgency.

The aim is to find additional money for children’s content outside the BBC, stimulating the uniquely talented UK production sector, providing greater diversity and choice for UK kids and young people and healthy competition for the BBC.

CMF Board member Nigel Pickard said today:

Nigel Pickard“The publication of the campaign letter shows there is real support for action now. This is the last chance to redress market failure and find new money for public service children’s content in the UK. We hope that the industry will rally around the research proposal that could lead to an Alternative Fund.”

Whilst CMF Chair, Anna Home OBE added:

anna home confernce“In terms of the BBC, early indications suggest they have ambitions to serve more children and a wider age range. Now they need to match the ambitions with money to make relevant long-form content that will impact on these audiences - otherwise it’s just hot air. And if they need convincing this is what the public wants, they only need to listen to the growing outcry about possible cuts to CBeebies to understand that parents depend upon the BBC and expect more of it."

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)