Friday, July 02, 2010

The Children's Media Conference - part 5

A significant segment of children's TV has become a global marketing exercise. This is a depressing assessment, but there's no doubting, especially in our straitened times, the economics of global sales can have a crucial bearing on the likelihood of a script or concept making it to the TV screen. So national quirks and culture is all too frequently sacrificed in order to help sell to a larger international audience.

In an earlier blog I wrote about The Bill, a London based cops show. The Bill used to deal with controversial issues in a diverse-friendly and inclusive way. These included LGB cops etc, but Australian politicians and media are conservative in outlook, and it seems that production values were gradually but firmly altered to facilitate sales in the Australian market. The new Australian prime minister has restated the Labor government's opposition to same-sex marriage, despite opinion polls indicating public support.

One of the sessions at the Children's Media Conference was about a new blueprint for children's media. It's reported that speakers underlined the global nature of children's television, and the importance of marketing and distribution. But Joe Godwin said British children want British content. Lyndsay Grant said it's important to give children more of a say.

The International Year of Youth starts next month. In the early 1990's Dr Patricia Edgar conceived the idea of a World Summit in media for young people, and the first summit was held in Melbourne Australia. The most recent was held in Karlstad Sweden last month. It called for young people to have more of a say in youth media production. The UK Youth Media Council sent a delegation to Sweden. In a timely article in The Guardian Richard Lemmer from the UKYMC said a survey of over 250 found that 88% of young people thought they were misrepresented by the media.

The Second world summit was held in London, and was chaired by Anna Home. For the first time there was a parallel children's event. They said many programmes intended for young people didn't allow kids to express themselves, and their opinions weren't always respected. It's notable that when the BBC closed down a load of CBBC message boards at the end of 2008 they completely ignored the wishes of the overwhelming majority of kids, who hadn't even been consulted about the closures. See also my analysis of Newsround's half-hearted efforts at giving kids a say in the lead-up to the general election, especially blogs on 10th, 13th and 17th April 2010.

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