Tuesday, July 13, 2010

With the start of the International Year of Youth four weeks away, Newsround Blog looks at what the BBC is doing to put right its discriminatory teen policies of recent years. Following the BBC Trust's initial conclusions to the BBC Strategy Review (blog 6 July 2010) some publications have been putting a spin on comments made at the Children's Media Conference.

On 8 July 2010 Broadcast magazine reported "BBC Children’s to target teens with extra budget." However, reading a little further into the piece it becomes clear that the headline is somewhat misleading. What the Director of BBC Children's reportedly said at the Conference was "We won’t change our target audience, but a lot of what we do already attracts older children." Apparently the intention is to "better serve the top end" of CBBC's audience, which will, by association, attract teens too.

Joe Godwin also spoke to Broadcast about children's TV in April this year. It seems that CBBC is on the hunt for a long-running, issues-led kids’ drama that skews towards the older end of its target demographic. Broadcast suggested that Grange Hill, which was axed in 2008, fitted exactly that description. But be warned, "don’t go telling that to Joe Godwin."

Joe does get rather irate at any hint that BBC management got things wrong in the past. As with others in the Corporation, he turns a blind eye to the fact that the BBC lied about audience reaction to the axing of Grange Hill and never put the record straight.

Despite attempts to get the BBC to detail its rationale, they have yet to give a credible explanation for the teen policy. Broadcast has Mr Godwin as saying that the fuss around Grange Hill has more to do with the chattering classes being stuck in the past than the current state of children’s television. And he is not even fully prepared to acknowledge the gap in services for teens. The basis for his reasoning is that "As many 10 to 15 year-olds watch CBBC as six to nine year-olds, which really puts away the argument that we don’t do stuff for older kids. That’s a fact."

In December Mr Godwin emailed me: "we are serving the top end of our audience better than ever, especially in drama and factual." So presumably the reason for children deserting CBBC in droves has nothing to do with mismanagement - it's the fault of children themselves?

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