Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Newsround is to screen two 15-minute specials on important social issues. The topics will be knife crime and the effects of divorce.

Anne Gilchrist, the CBBC controller who commissioned the programmes, said: Newsround continues its 35-year-long tradition of tackling difficult yet truly relevant topics on behalf of children. Both of these special programmes help give children a voice within British society. Newsround is still the only daily, year-round provider of news especially for children.

But on CBBC, children over the age of 12 are allowed to participate only on sufferance because of the present 6 to 12 target age range. The recent news about Grange Hill (blog 18 January 2008) is one instance of the effect of this policy.....a cutting edge programme has been robbed of its original purpose and should be scrapped, according to its creator. Things have reached this state because CBBC is rigorously enforcing policy on its so-called 'target audience.' Even feedback to Newsround's website from over 13s used to be systematically (and covertly) weeded out ...until January 2008. I had raised the matter with the BBC Trust and Ofcom last year. However, posts to the CBBC 'Your Life' and 'Bullying' forums still appear to be weeded out because of other diversity-related issues. (see blog 2 September 2007)

This month is LGBT History Month, and on 25 September 2007 I was informed of hope that Newsround would be able to report LGBT stories "in the near future." On 16 January 2008 I followed up the issue: In September 2007 you mentioned in an email to me that you were hoping to make use of Stonewall contacts to help make some stories in the near future. Do you perhaps have any ideas for including something in LGBT History Month? I haven't yet received a reply, and there's still no indication that CBBC has any intention of becoming more inclusive on LGBT issues.

In their October 2007 discussion paper on children's TV, Ofcom feature an extensive survey which identified a perceived lack of TV programmes for older kids. But even after Phil Redmond's passionately expressed views, CBBC adamantly refuses to listen to outsiders and seems determined not to budge. The problems of knife crime and family breakdown are relevant to children of diverse ages, and it remains to be seen whether the Newsround specials will yet include contributions from teens.

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