Sunday, November 27, 2011

CBBC Newsround receives a Children's BAFTA award later today. It's to celebrate the programme turning 40 in April next year.

Newsround was originally broadcast twice a week but, says BAFTA, "over the past 40 years it has grown and grown and now over 800,000 of you watch it." That claim is somewhat misleading because audience figures peaked years ago, and the number of people watching has been declining since then.

Celebs and others have been sending or tweeting their good wishes to Newsround, but not everyone has been quite so generous. Andrew Brown, writing for The Telegraph, called it "the programme all children want to switch off." Mr Brown suggests that the only award Newsround deserves is one for surviving such a long time.

There's no doubting that Newsround is, on occasion, outstanding children's TV - especially the investigative reports such as school funding cutbacks. And then there are the excellent Newsround Specials, the most recent of which helps nurture a spirit of understanding and acceptance for people with autism.

However in one particular respect Newsround has failed to move with the times and is still stuck in the 1970's when it was presented by John Craven. I wrote to John in January 2005 via the BBC Countryfile email address, to let him know that Newsround had not been inclusive, and that it failed to tackle homophobia and homophobic bullying. Unfortunately John did not reply, and since then there's been no improvement.

Showbiz is too insensitive to care about such details. In fact the industry prefers to hide these issues out of the way.

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