The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Our Children’s Future: Does Public Service Media Matter?



As co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children’s Media and the Arts, we welcome this new campaign by the Children’s Media Foundation. Their initiative to commission this series of radical, free-thinking articles will dig deep into the fundamental purpose of public service media content for children and the challenges faced in a media landscape […]

A Virtuous Circle: Creating A New Additional Funding Model

A respected and highly successful animation producer considers how we can create a funding system for 'local' content that is sustainable and affordable, without simply relying on additional public funds.

I have been working in children’s television for 25 years and have had the privilege of working with producers and content from all over the world. In the past few years, I have learned a lot about diversity and representation, I have learned about what drives public service broadcast platforms as well as commercial broadcast […]

Carrying The Baton: BBC Children’s & Education

The Director of Children’s & Education at the BBC makes the case for the provision of public service media at scale through a healthy, high-quality commissioning slate. The article also highlights the value of restoring public service competition for UK children’s attention through initiatives like the Young Audience Content Fund.

Since becoming the Director of BBC Children’s and Education last September it has been a real honour and pleasure to become involved in the delivery of public service edutainment for children, this being my motivation for moving across from the commercial TV sector. Because of our unique publicly funded position it’s not for me or […]

What Now? What Next?  What If…?

Drawing together the themes contained in this report, the director of the Children’s Media Foundation sets out the challenges we face and shares some ideas to inspire new solutions.


Having spent the last 10 years as Director of The Children’s Media Conference, considering the issues and potential for kids’ and youth media in the UK; public service content for young people has been on my mind for much of that time. For that reason I was thrilled when the Children’s Media Foundation Executive Group […]

Policy, Production and Public Service in the UK – Taking Children Seriously

Jeanette Steemers is one of the most experienced academics working in this field and it was partly her frustration at the repeated failure of policymakers to put the children's audience at the heart of any previous review into public service media that inspired the Children's Media Foundation to launch this campaign. In this article she sets out the argument for why this failure to consider the needs of children is ethically wrong and how government can begin to address these failures.

After the May publication of the damning Dyson inquiry report into the BBC’s handling of Martin Bashir’s Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales in 1995, all sides are gearing up for the mid-term Review of the BBC’s Royal Charter in 2022. It promises to be a bruising encounter. Issues of governance, following a shift […]


John Dale takes you into an imagined future-world, where public service media has helped a group of young people to build a sustainable new way of working that creates an empowering media experience for children across the globe.

This chapter was almost fully ‘imagined’ in a small hotel in Belgrade, Serbia, by six young people and a youth worker in late September 2007. Ana and Katia, two 13-year-old girls from the favelas in Rio de Jamaica were sat with Luka and Milos, 14-year-old boys from Borča, just outside Belgrade; and Jiera and Yash, […]

Not Waving, But Drowning – An independent children’s producer’s perspective

As a respected producer, Anne Wood calls on government to recognise the production sector faces an almost impossible situation and is rapidly losing the talent and specialist expertise to serve the needs of the UK children's audience.

Once upon a time in the United Kingdom every broadcaster originated children’s programmes.  It was an accepted requirement, integral to the privilege of broadcasting.  It was built into the BBC Charter from the beginning.  Children’s culture was recognised and perceived as important.  This premise was consequently also adopted by the ITV companies.  The then Independent […]

Public service media: A matter of life and death

An exceptionally powerful plea for policymakers to recognise the vital importance of storytelling in how we share knowledge with children and young people and the impact the successful transmission of knowledge can have on young lives.

Culture is one of the defining aspects of humanity. This is not to say that other species do not demonstrate cultural customs, but the extent to which humans pass down traditions is arguably one of the most important features that distinguishes us from all other animals. Indeed, Joseph Henrich has argued that the transmission of […]

Feeling Included: The Value Of Public Service Media

Wincie is a champion of inclusivity and in this article she reflects on the value of public service media and why we must always remember that you can’t be what you can’t see.

Today’s children are tomorrow’s adults. That sounds like a truism, but actually it’s a simple and important fact that we all occasionally forget. What our children see, hear and experience today, will impact the way they act and the decisions they take in the future. Once you understand this as a broadcaster, producer or writer, you […]

Why Public Service Media Need To Place Our Trust In The ‘Lean In’ Generation

Japhet's article breaks new ground with provocative ideas for how public service media content providers can reach out to Gen Z, an audience that has effectively rejected linear TV channels and passive media consumption.

In the early days of interactive TV development, we spent a great deal of time debating the value of ‘lean forward’ and ‘lean back’ viewing and engagement, and how to build moments of both for young audiences.  The competition between television, online and games platforms for their attention was already underway.  The issues we discussed […]

A Global Perspective On Thinking Locally

What happens in UK kids' media is watched closely by other countries. The CEO of the Australian Children's Television Foundation gives an international perspective on a national problem

Distinctive, quality, locally produced content for children is a bit like motherhood. Everyone thinks it’s a good idea. But like mothers, it’s also taken for granted.  And no one wants to pay for it. Therefore our work, as advocates for public service children’s screen content, is never done. The news that the Young Audiences Content Fund […]

Why is public service television for kids so important?

Nicky and Simona write about their first-hand experience of using public service media funding to help children learn about the world and share how their audience has responded to the opportunity to engage with news programming that is made for them.

Children’s TV is currently in the spotlight. Since 2006, funding for children’s public service content in the UK has declined by 40%. Ofcom has highlighted several areas of concern, one of which is the limited range of programmes that help children of all ages understand the world around them. As children growing up in different […]

The Physical and the Virtual: Understanding children’s relationships with their media

Former Children's Commissioner, Anne Longfield, draws on her experience of working with children to explore the way their media experiences are changing out of all recognition.

I’m not a public service media expert but I do know about kids.  And right from the beginning of my six years as Children’s Commissioner, the digital world was something I looked at in depth, seeing it in the context of the whole of a child’s life. Previous generations thought of the digital world as […]

Children’s Television: The Canary In the Coal Mine 

What lessons can we learn from the changing regulatory and broadcast landscape on the UK’s public service offer for children and young people?

The current conversation on the future of public service broadcasting in the UK has been strangely quiet on the subject of Children’s television. The relative silence is rather puzzling given the interesting lessons the wider telly community could learn from the children’s experience and quite frankly, what happens to public service broadcasting when a heady […]

The Active Digital Citizen

Lord Puttnam argues that the future of public service media for children is inextricably linked to media literacy education and the ability of the audience to think critically about the content they consume online.

In 2016, I chaired an inquiry into the future of public service broadcasting organised by Goldsmiths University. The inquiry’s report was published on the 18th of June that year, just one week before the Brexit referendum. In its Introduction, I noted how virulent the public debate had been over the preceding months and how our […]

Today’s Children, Tomorrow’s Voters

Patrick Barwise and Peter York consider why the presence of public service media at scale has helped to protect functioning democracies from the dangers of disinformation.

In many ways, children have never grown up faster and never been savvier. To varying degrees – depending as much on household income as on age – they are all digital natives. But mastery of technology is not the same as understanding the nature of the content it brings – who created it, and why? […]

Education Value PSM

Public Service News For Young People: Where Next?

An article about the challenges of engaging a young audience with news content delivered on the platforms they use, written by someone who has done it.

When stood before the teenagers I began to understand the scale of the problem.  I was back at my old school, Bishop Milner Catholic College in Dudley – there for the day running a series of sessions to encourage teenagers to consider careers in journalism.  I had asked the class of 14 and 15-year-olds how […]

Audience Experience

As Kids Kickstart The Metaverse, Is Public Service Media Ready?

David Kleeman draws on his extensive global research to highlight the challenges and opportunities for regulators and children's media producers as they prepare for changes in media habits we have only begun to imagine.

“[The metaverse is] arguably as big a shift in online communications as the telephone or the internet.” David Baszucki, CEO, Roblox Any debate on the future of public service media for children cannot assume that what children are doing now is what they will be doing five years from now. To plan for the future […]

Audience Experience Future Thinking

Child-produced content and the simulation of childhood: what talking to children about YouTube Kids can teach us about the possibilities of Public Service Media

This article reports on the emerging findings of an on-going study investigating how 4–7 year old children in the UK watch and engage with YouTube Kids (YTK), and reflects on how these findings may be helpful in developing successful Public Service Media content for young children. I begin by setting out the concerns around children’s […]

Audience Experience Future Thinking Research

Once upon a time, there was a broadcaster… responding to the distributed risk of children’s programme production and consumption

Once concentrated around a small number of public service broadcaster-producers, programme production for children now occurs not only through these traditional relationships, but increasingly in the non-public-service sphere and across a number of production models, from traditional commissioning to self-publishing on browser-based platforms. This contribution argues that the widening of the market for children’s programmes […]

Future Thinking Research

Public Service Broadcasting For Children And The Commercial PSBs

Máire Messenger Davies gives her perspective on the context for this debate and the importance of understanding how children's media experiences are changing and the extent to which there is continuity.

As I write, it is World Book Day and my social media timelines are full of children dressed as the Gruffalo, and Paddington, and the Worst Witch, all characters from books that they have both read and, more likely, seen on television. The relationship between children’s books and TV shows is symbiotic and has been […]

Audience Experience Research Value PSM

Our Children’s Future

An insight into how our politicians might pull the levers of government to create a new public service media system that meets the needs of the children's audience.

There are always more urgent issues demanding the attention of ministers and MPs than there is the time in the day or the space on the legislative timetable that is needed, perhaps never more so than now. And in these times, it can be difficult to make an argument for the arts sector as a […]

Audience Experience Funding PSM

Time For Another Revolution?

A timely reminder as to why we should care about public service media for children, as well as some radical ideas on how we can meet the challenge.

It feels odd, having created ‘Grange Hill’, and watched it run for 35 years, that there appears a need to even ask if children’s media content is worth preserving. Is that not a question containing its own answer, illustrated by our rich heritage of output? A heritage that stretches back to BBC Radio’s ‘Listen With […]

Funding PSM Value PSM

Here’s Not Looking at You, Kids

A passionate defence of the importance of children's media to the creative economy and a heartfelt thank you to the people that make it possible for writers to tell their stories to children.

In his great poem The Whitsun Weddings, Philip Larkin describes a whit weekend train trip from Hull to London. Whit was a popular time to get married so “all down the line fresh couples climbed aboard.” From the carriage windows they watch England flashing by. “An Odeon went past, a cooling tower and someone running […]

Audience Experience Value PSM

PSM Means ‘Personalised Streaming Media’

Timandra Harkness argues there is a role for public service media, but if everything has changed for the younger audience then we also need to change everything about the way we approach these questions.

Only three things have changed about Public Service Broadcasting: The Public, Service, and Broadcasting. Broadcasting is the most obvious of the three. When the BBC first began radio broadcasting in November 1922, it joined a media environment that was top-down, disseminating the editorial decisions of a few to the masses. Like the handful of newspaper […]

Future Thinking

A Message of Support

Understandably, Michael didn't feel up to writing a full article for the campaign, but has kindly sent this message of support. As you would expect, it sums up the heart of the argument in just a couple of short paragraphs.

It’s all in the name: it’s for the public – that’s all of us, and it’s a service. It serves the people. Children are part of the people, they are people. They are entitled to be given a service that is for all of them. As we become more and more aware of the diverse […]

Education And The Role Of Public Service Media

During the pandemic we have come to realise the importance of public service media for education. But how did we manage to lose a sizeable chunk of schools programming? And what are the options for reinvigorating our schools service and increasing funding for children's media?

When I joined Channel 4 in 1992 as Deputy Commissioning Editor, Schools, it had recently taken over responsibility for schools broadcasting from ITV.  My colleague and friend Paul Ashton was Commissioning Editor.  Over the next eleven years we commissioned television programmes for schools, to be used in classrooms under the guidance of teachers.  We commissioned […]

Education Funding PSM Value PSM

The Appeal Of Period Drama For A Younger Audience

A fascinating research article exploring how the streaming services have attracted younger audiences with a genre that is a staple of traditional public service broadcasters.

The period drama is a genre inextricably caught up with British national identity. Through these dramas we construct an origin story for our present-day culture and invite outsiders in to come and experience our heritage of quaint countryside communities, lavish stately homes and Hogwarts-like educational institutions. These dramas take the form of feature films, many […]

Audience Experience Research

The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)