Thursday, March 18, 2010

Children editorial principles (part 2)

Kids aged 9, 10 and 14 were amongst the guests on last week's Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. The children were from the cast of BBC sitcom Outnumbered.

Ross: Now you see we do have children on the show, as you'll be aware, and I've checked the BBC Guidelines, and there are certain areas we have to be a bit careful about. Hence for the rest of this evening my house band will be called '4 Unmarried Uncles and a Pianola.'

BBC Editorial Guidelines state that the BBC must balance its responsibility to protect children and young people from unsuitable content with their rights to freedom of expression and freedom to receive information.

All too often and without good reason the BBC denies kids their right to information and their right to freedom of expression. Look at the way Newsround handled the John Terry news. Newsround prides itself on sports coverage, yet for nearly a whole week they kept completely silent about the looming John Terry captaincy decision.

Presumably someone at CBBC thought that John Terry's antics were inappropriate for their target audience. Only when the decision to sack Terry had been made did Newsround deign to report the events which led up to it. If Capello's decision had gone the other way it's possible Newsround viewers would now be none the wiser.

Newsround did eventually put kids in the picture regarding John Terry. But as with Cert 15 films, which I mentioned in part 1, it seems that the Corporation is not prepared to allow kids to have their say on the message boards.

In the run-up to the General Election Newsround is asking "What if kids controlled the country?" - what would you change if you were in charge?

The BBC likes to pretend that Newsround is about empowering kids. But fundamentally their 'kids in charge consultation' is a sham - the programme and its website are ultimately controlled and manipulated by adults.

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