The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

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

Foreword

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 that has changed beyond all recognition.

Over thirty years ago the UK signed up to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), thus agreeing that children have the right to learn about and practice their own culture, to join in a wide range of recreational activities, and to have access to safe and appropriate mass media. Recent clarification applies the UNCRC to the digital environment as much as the physical world, recognising that for children there is no differentiation: every experience has an impact.

Our children’s future is our future.  The adults they become and the decisions they make will be the consequences of the childhood we give them now.  They don’t just learn in formal classrooms: they learn everywhere.  So, what they see, hear and experience in the media we give them matters. Will they know enough about the world? Their society, local, national and beyond?  Will they care?  Will they make it better or worse?

And do we care?

In the past ten years or so, there have been numerous policies dealing with Communications and the Digital Economy, but they have never seen the needs of children as of paramount importance.  Even now, Ofcom’s public service media consultation Small Screen: Big Debate includes very few references to children’s content and the government’s new panel of advisors was initially set up without a single children’s specialist.  What sort of politics is this?  Perhaps that’s the problem: public service media is a party-political football rather than a national societal service.  It is time to put party aside and put children first with a proper coordinated look at what is best for kids.  Because ultimately, what is best for children, will be best for us.

Julie Elliott MP
Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE

Co-Chairs APPG for Children’s Media and the Arts

By Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE and Julie Elliott MP

Julie Elliott MP and Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE are Co-Chairs of the APPG for Children’s Media and the Arts. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children’s Media and the Arts was established in 2011 to provide greater awareness of the issues around children's media and arts.

Julie Elliott MP and Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE's Profile

The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)