The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

In a Brave New World? Moving Towards a White Paper. The VLV Autumn Conference

The Voice of the Listener and Viewer is a partner organisation with a long history of campaigning for quality, and diversity.  Its annual conference was held on Monday 28th November.  Anna Home attended for CMF.
Lord Patten, BBC Trust Chairman
The keynote speaker at the Conference was Lord Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust, speaking after  the appointment of Tony Hall as DG but before his appearance at the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing in Parliament.

He spoke with confidence about the new DG and defended the handling of the departure and pay off of George Entwhistle.  He made it very clear that he believes in the future of the BBC and will defend it firmly.

He made no reference to children’s output in his speech but in a response to  a question from Susan Stranks regarding policy on BBC children’s radio he did mention that "children’s TV is one of the great success stories". (Something we may need to remind the BBC about if times get hard!)

Despite the title of the conference there seemed to be some doubt among speakers whether there would in fact ever be a White Paper prior to the up-coming Communications Bill.   Some speakers felt that it might be made to quietly fade away, resulting in the same lack of consultation as happened to the previously planned Green Paper which never was.  However other opinions suggested that it would happen and would be primarily concerned with post Levison fall out.

Consultation has been inadequate up to now, with a few exclusive invitation-only events as the only atempts to gather industry and other stakeholder opinion.

The CMF concrern is that the children's voice is not being heard.  There is a likelihood that less regulation might be the order of the day in the new Communications Act, and while this might have its merits in some areas, when it comes to the children's audience, they almost always lose out when regulation is eased.  It was a failure to make children's programmes mandatory in the 2003 Broadcasting Act that led to the situation in which ITV was easily able to slough off its ITV1 commitment to kids, and reduce its production spend significantly.

The CMF plans to continue to represent the children's audience interest in any further consultations over the new Comms Act.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)