The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

An Impression of The Children’s Global Media Summit 2017

Anna Home, Chair of the CMF, and previously Chair of the 1998 London World Summit, writes about the Children's Global Media Summit held earlier this month.

The Children’s Global Media Summit hosted by the BBC and chaired by Alice Webb was held in Manchester from 5th to 7th December. Manchester was looking particularly festive, with its huge Christmas market in full swing.

The Summit was the most recent in a series of gatherings initiated in 1995 in Melbourne by the World Summit on Media for Children Foundation founded by Dr. Patricia Edgar, and was the second summit to be held in the UK.

The title of the Manchester Summit was Generation U: The Future of Media for an Unlimited Generation. There were five key themes: Innovation, Empowerment, Freedom, Entertainment and Education.

For more information on specific sessions and keynotes, CMF has gathered blog reports from various people who attended. You can see the list here.

Each day opened with a keynote in the main auditorium, which was followed by parallel sessions. Each day ended with an open forum where themes and questions that had emerged throughout the day were discussed and developed by speakers and delegates. These provided some interesting and lively debate.

There was an impressive cast of speakers from all over the world: senior executives, including the BBC Director-General, Tony Hall; programme makers, technical experts, researchers, educators; the very entertaining Richard Scudamore, Executive Chairman of the Premier League; and even Manchester poet Tony Walsh who took part in the opening and final sessions, with an individual take on the whole event.

All aspects of children’s media were covered, but two main preoccupations seemed to emerge very clearly: the impact on both the audience and the industry of increasingly fast changing technology, both in potential positive and negative terms, and the issues surrounding the safety and exploitation of children online, particularly the need for greater responsibility on the part of global platform providers.

The event was held in the Manchester Central Conference Centre, an impressive space, with impressive security, especially on the day Prince William and Kate attended. The Prince talked about an initiative he is chairing on the problem of online bullying. It was good to see some children in the audience for this session, as well as the very forthright and clear-thinking children we saw talking on screen to introduce many of the other sessions.

In addition, there was an exhibition of current developments from various companies including research and VR demonstrations that were particularly popular. The CMF exhibited in this area and sold copies of the Children's Media Yearbooks which was a welcome addition to the thought-leadership amongst the international guests

The next summit is scheduled for 2020. The World Summit Foundation has not yet announced the venue, but it seems likely to be in Asia. Wherever it is, there is no doubt that the issues raised in Manchester will continue to be discussed, and new ones will have appeared, but judging from the concern, thoughtfulness and enthusiasm of the delegates in Manchester for these three days, the children’s media sector all over the world is willing to confront them.


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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)