The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

PSB And The Future of Public Service Broadcasting In The UK

Proposed Inquiry on Public Service Broadcasting And Content For Children by The Children's Media Foundation

By Colin Ward

Research, Outreach and Deputy Director CMF



Back in January, before there were any COVID cases in this country, some people working with the Children’s Media Foundation started to ask fundamental questions about the future of children’s media in the UK. The BBC was coming under increasing pressure, there was no sign of ITV, Channel Four and Five suddenly regaining an appetite for making high quality, UK-originated content, and Disney + was about to launch, adding another streaming behemoth to an already crowded market place. They were worried. How were British children going to find media content that reflected their own lives and cultural experiences in this challenging and uncertain future? And then the future got a little more uncertain.

To be clear, no one wants to turn the clock back to a nostalgic golden past. But you can learn from the past. The film producer and founder of Ealing Studios, Sir Michael Balcon, is famous for his call to action in support of a British film industry to rival Hollywood. He argued that, ‘the only kind of nationalism worth a damn is cultural nationalism’. If we do not support the production of UK-originated, culturally relevant media content for our children we are throwing away our heritage and, quite possibly, the future of the UK’s media industries. How can we expect the next generation of directors, producers and writers to create uniquely British stories if their media experiences as children do nothing to nurture their identity and unique sense of self?

The Children’s Media Foundation does not have the answers, but it is launching an inquiry into the future of public service content for children to try and find some. Over the next nine months, they will be consulting as widely as possible with everyone involved in, and concerned about, the creation of children’s media content in the UK. That includes producers and broadcasters, but also parents and children, writers, directors, children’s charities and academic and commercial researchers. At the end of that consultation, the CMF will publish a report with specific recommendations that we will put to the government and to the politicians who will need to pass new laws to protect and nurture the production of media content for children in this country.

If you want to be involved, we want to hear from you.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)