Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The BBC has sent in a response to Ofcom's discussion paper on the future of children's television programming. They welcome the opportunity to engage in debate around the importance of provision of UK-originated television programming for children.

The BBC says it plays a unique and central role in the provision of Children’s TV programming in the UK. Newsround is the first programme mentioned in the BBC's response:

Through a unique range of UK-produced output, BBC Children’s contributes to all the BBC’s public purposes, providing dedicated programmes which engage and inspire children and encourage them to participate and interact with broadcast content. The output provides positive role models of children for children, and through programmes like Newsround, opens children’s eyes and minds to the world around them. Television can help children to understand themselves and their role in the world, and through moments of silliness and humour help children to relax and laugh out loud. In these ways, BBC children’s television is a unique and hugely valuable contribution, directly touching and enhancing the lives of people aged 12 and under ..

But what about older children? Is the BBC meeting its public purpose in respect of teens? The BBC have never explained why older children have been effectively abandoned. And although they've admitted to me that CBBC discriminates, they haven't actually made that clear to their audience.

The BBC claims it will increase investment in content for the young teens audience via their new brand, BBC Switch, available on TV, on radio and online.(blog 25 October 2007) But anyone with a reasonable memory will recall that the BBC actually cut the budget (pdf) for BBC Switch even before the first programmes were screened.

Over the Christmas holidays CBBC programmes accounted for about 100 hours per week of BBC TV airtime. BBC Switch normally broadcasts for a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes TV programmes per week, but in the last week of 2007 there weren't any TV programmes broadcast under the Switch brand. So overall it looks like the BBC's commitment to teens is a very low priority for the Corporation.

Ofcom's October 2007 discussion paper on children's TV wasn't even given a mention by Newsround or on its website (see blog entry 6 October 2007) Now the BBC says it's also focusing on the "traditionally underserved younger teen audience." First they axe the last vestige of services for teens (blog 13 May 2006) and then they worry about what to do. Newsround seems to have ended its wobble (blog 28 December 2007) and is again discarding feedback from anyone aged 14 or more.


Stonewall's Workplace Equality Index was published this morning. WEI 2008 (pdf)

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