The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

CGMS – Taking Stock

Greg Childs, Director of the Children's Media Foundation, reports on the CMF-produced session at the Children's Global Media Summit 2017 in Manchester.

For this session we decide to go back to the reasons the Summit movement started in the first place, in 1995 and which resulted in the Children's Television Charter. we also wanted to take a truly global perspective, so the aim of the session became" assess, continent by content, the extent to which children's media - producers, broadcasters or other outlets - are addressing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Essential, to what extent does media for children now promote inclusivity, offer empowerment and allow children to hear their own authentic (and local) voices and stories.

We asked for examples of good practice from our panelists and we wanted to hear from them what were the policy initiatives, funding possibilities etc which had made a difference - or caused a blockage.

  • Anna Home, Chair of the Children’s Media Foundation and the chair of the last UK Summit in London in 1998 hosted the event
  • Beth Carmona, Content and Development Director, for ComKids Brazil, gave a South American perspective
  • Yemisi Mokuolu, Founder and CEO, Hatch Africa, covered the emerging children's and youth media scene in Africa
  • David Kleeman, SVP Global Trends, Dubit, gave the North American perspective and brought years of experience at the American Center for Children's Media as a "watcher" of how the media for kids business works
  • Maya Goetz, Director of IXZI, the Munich-based research agency and the world's premier children's television festival, the Prix Jeunesse gave a view of Europe and Asia.

Though the session was sadly cut short at the last minute by security issues around the arrival of the Duke and Duchsess of Cambridge, the experts rattled through their various perspectives like things possessed - ably assisted by several planned interventions from the floor with Michael Carrington (ABC) talking about public service television in Australia, Michael Stumpf of KiKA offering a German perspective of inclusive and empowering media. and Prof. Naomi Sakr describing her work researching children's television in the Arab world.

What did we learn?

That in South America since the 1998 Summit there has been great progress in the development and production f children's content - including animation - in several countries - notably Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Chile.  And that this content is consciously and actively local, and espouses inclusivity - especially of Latin America's widely diverse racial mix.  it comes about as a result of long-term campaigning, working together across territory borders, government interventions in the form of regulation of television channels and other initiatives.

Yemisi's spoke about Africa as a young continent, whose young people are finding their way to media both on traditional outlets such as cable and satellite TV, and in great numbers on mobile devices.

Prof. Sakr described the Arab experience as one which was paved with good intentions for the creation of local content, but it was also beset with issues of governmental and religious control and a lack of media freedom in general.  The Al Jazeera Children's aim of broadcasting to the entire Arab world from Morocco to Iraq had been thwarted in part by the fact that the Arabic language is not consistent throughout. The channel's use of simplified classical Arabic was an attempt to overcome this but it isn't a natural or easy way of communicating.

Anna Home asked David Kleeman why public service-style content comes out of the essentially commercial US system. He explained that broadcasting in the US started from a different place than in Europe - particularly at the BBC in the UK. The default position is commercial, and it requires pressure and initiatives to create a public service system, which has never been as strong as in European models, or public service activities such as the 'Sesame Street' initiative back in the 60's. Funding from foundations is vital to this sort of activity.

Michael Carrington talked about the pressure on public service in Australia, where regulation to ensure children;s content is carried on all channels (essentially) is being relaxed, leaving the responsibility with ABC and the other public broadcaster SBS.

Michael Stumpf from KiKa, the channel jointly funded by the two public service broadcasting organisations in Germany, described an annual initiative to raise awareness amongst children of their rights and thee rights of those around them - a direct relationship to the UN goals.

Following up from German, Maya Goetz did a raid pull-together of initiatives in Asia and worldwide - such as the Wadada shared news project - which sought to empower children in societies where the broadcasting ecology for kids is less mature than in Europe or other parts of the western world.

Anna summed up that it seemed clear there was much going on, but there was always room for more - especially in regions where the concept of dedicated content for children was purely left to commercial operations.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)