Thursday, February 04, 2010

CBBC Raven: series 10, episode 7
There's a continuing communications media failure to cater adequately for today's kids.

Simply put, BBC Children's was always technically aimed at pre-teens (blog 8 May 2008.) But over the years that remit was interpreted in a commonsense fashion, so that controversial issues were tackled in popular dramas such as Grange Hill and well-regarded factual programmes such as The Lowdown. It was broadly recognised that a decent service for children needed to cover a multitude of abilities and understanding.

These days, although the BBC is looking for young people to work on Newsround, the reality is that CBBC fails to provide a satisfactory service, even for 6-12 year-olds. I wonder how many kids wanted to post their thoughts to CBBC's message boards about John Terry's captaincy. So far, none apparently. And Newsround itself is needlessly censoring news from its viewers the same way they once reported pervasive censorship takes place in China. Newsround said on 25 January 2006 that children in China won't be getting the full picture for some time to come. (see also my blog on 14 January 2010)

Take a look at this Roman Road challenge from a recent edition of CBBC's Raven. Did you understand it completely at a single viewing? If you did, chances are that you aren't six years old. In fact, I imagine some teens won't have understood it either, though I'm sure some six-year-olds saw that challenge as a doddle.

Educationalist, Professor David Hargreaves believes that pigeonholing children by age is "an extremely crude measure". He says that age banding in broadcasting for young people is arbitrary, since maturity and age among the young are not strongly correlated, and are becoming less so.

It's recently been reported that new ventures are in the pipeline to fill the gap left by the BBC. Simon Goretzki said That was a Children's BBC decision made a few years ago about where the CBBC channel was best aimed at. ... There is no one at the BBC who is pretending it's not an issue.

Of course it's an issue, but it's an agenda-driven issue of BBC management's own making. And the BBC Trust has resolutely stuck by management and refused to sort out the mess (see for example, this email about the December 2008 message board changes)

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