Monday, June 13, 2011

It's a bit rich to promise one thing and then do the opposite. But unfortunately the BBC seems to make a habit of it. Whether the promise is to explain the rules of their Fantasy Football Leaderboard scoring system, or whether it's about helping kids understand the world around them, the Corporation has proved it can't be trusted.

The "results" of the Fantasy Football competition were announced on Saturday's MOTD Kickabout. After swapping between Sonali and Leah to tease the audience, we were eventually assured that Leah had won. However, perspicacious viewers will have noticed that the top two scores weren't revealed.

MOTD Kickabout Leaderboard - 11th June 2011
This year Jana Bennett is due to give a Keynote at the Banff World Media Festival. Four years ago Jana, as part of another keynote speech, told attendees to Showcomotion (now known as the Children's Media Conference):-
We help children understand themselves and their relationships in all their rich complexity and in particular, understand their world – begin to fathom their navigation of relationships, their situation, through the experience of others whom they can relate to.

We open the door for children to the wider world and its concerns whether that is science, history, fiction or the unlimited world of the imagination.

And in between all that good-for-you stuff we encourage children to have fun....

But Newsround Blog showed how, in reality, kids were betrayed by the BBC, their freedoms (of expression and right to information) being severely curtailed. Check out, for example, here, here and here. Richard Deverell, who incidentally bears a remarkable resemblance to Nyder from Doctor Who, was in charge of BBC Children's at the time.

Similar sentiments to Ms Bennett's were expressed last November at a meeting of the respected Voice of the Listener and Viewer. This time the invited speaker was the present BBC Director of Children's, Joe Godwin -
We need to fire the imagination of the next generation and help them make sense of the world around them with powerful storytelling that engages and enthralls them.

All drama and storytelling has the capacity to tackle social issues, to feature a range of characters that reflect the sheer diversity of society, and to help explain complex subjects to children.

So for quite a while the BBC has been putting out the same message about how it helps kids have fun, whilst preparing them for adulthood. But indications are that the interests of children are of secondary concern. Despite all the fine words intended for British ears, the truth is that world commercial markets are a major factor in deciding what British kids see on TV; and unfortunately another factor is heterosexism. CBBC's Leonardo is a blatant case in point.

The BBC performs a careful balancing act. When speaking to the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, its message is about homegrown content. When speaking to LGBT groups the message is about inclusion (at some unspecified time in the future,) and when speaking at media conferences abroad it's about how broadcasters can co-operate to make programmes suitable for an international market.

Joe Godwin is, I believe, presently attending the Banff World Media Festival 2011. Independent producers will get a chance to meet Joe and other "broadcast industry leaders and influential power-brokers" who are looking to discover "the freshest, hottest new ideas in television." (BANFF Connect: Cocktails with a Decision Maker) Then on Tuesday and Wednesday Joe is due to speak in two sessions about 'Kids and Animation'. Amongst topics being considered are:

Working with Canadian kids' TV producers.

What international broadcasters want, and how they want it.

What is up-and-coming in kids programming for each country?

What are the different countries looking for in terms of content?

Projects geared for U.S., U.K. and Australian distribution.

International funding and financing; optimal models for deal structures and budgets in the global market.

I won't be attending the Banff MediaFest. However Newsround Blog wants to know exactly how international broadcasters and the BBC are working to make public service programmes suitable for showing in Britain, where lesbian and gay people should be treated as full and equal members of society.

Mr Godwin told FTL that nothing is going to happen ‘tomorrow’.

Well, Joe, for some kids ‘tomorrow’ is already too late.

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