Discrimination on CBBC
The BBC, as the public service broadcaster in Britain, should provide programmes relevant to all children. An Ofcom report in February last year found that young people in the 16-24 year age range have become less likely to watch traditional television services. But despite the fact that young people were deserting TV, on 25 April 2006 - less than two months after Ofcom's report - the BBC's Director-General announced 'Creative Future'. Part of the original policy plan was to narrow the target age range of the CBBC 'brand' (as the BBC like to term it.)
The plan was to add a broadband-based teen service later.
At the time of the Director-General's announcement well over half of Newsround's web responses were coming from children aged 13 and above. Within weeks Richard Deverell, Head of CBBC, announced that Byker Grove was to be axed. Mr Deverell was asked to explain his actions and went on Newsround to answer questions from CBBC viewers.
Several emails asked Newsround why the BBC was concentrating on younger children and ignoring teens. Richard Deverell acknowledged that the BBC knew there was a problem, and said that hopefully in the "near future" they would provide services for 12-16 year olds (see blog 13 May 2006).
That was in May last year.
In August 2006 Tim Levell took over as Editor of Newsround. A survey of feedback in September 2006 indicated very few responses from anyone aged 15 or over. I wrote to the BBC on 14 September 2006 to explain what I had found, but the problem didn't improve. By December 2006 there were hardly any responses put up from children aged 14 or over (see blog 13 December 2006).
Last Wednesday Newsround appealed for viewers to contact the programme -
We're after your stories. It's all part of a survey we're helping to put together into what makes a good childhood. We want to know what you get up to in your spare time. Well in a minute we'll hear Shamona's story, but first let's see what our Gavin's been up to.
(Filmed insert) - What do you like doing? Who do you like to hang around with? Which issues do you care about? How safe do you feel when you're out and about? What do you do to keep fit? Loads of reports say children spend too much time playing computer games, don't exercise enough or eat the right kind of food, or watch too much TV. Now Newsround wants you to put across your side of the story. We want to know about the topics that affect your life. It's all part of a big survey we're doing alongside a charity called The Children's Society. You can tell us what you think, vote online or even send us a photo by going to the Newsround website. Over the next few weeks we want to hear what you get up to, what you love doing and what there is to do in your area. Here's Shamona with her story.... [Shamona then talks about her life, dancing, shopping, friends, keeping safe, internet. She ended by saying "Now you've heard my story, Newsround would like to hear from you. This is Shamona reporting for Newsround."]