Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Producers back campaign to halt kids TV 'crisis'

Kids’ television producers have thrown their weight behind a campaign to halt the “crisis” in original children’s content over the past 12 years.
A number of indie bosses have voiced support for Pact and The Ragdoll Foundation’s recommendations to boost the sector after the organisations exposed dramatic declines in children’s output since the 2003 Communications Act.
In a joint report, submitted as part of Ofcom’s PSB Review, Pact and Ragdoll revealed that the volume of original UK kids’ content commissioned by public service broadcasters fell by 68% between 2003 and 2013.
It also highlighted that spending by commercial PSBs has fallen 95% to £3m.
The two organisations hope the PSB Review can “redress the balance” and have called for Ofcom to be handed powers to set quotas for kids’ programming, bringing it in line with news, current affairs, and originated productions. 
They also want to give PSB benefits, such as EPG prominence, to digital channels including CITV, in return for original production or scheduling commitments.

“The status quo is not far off market failure,” said Kate Little, joint managing director of Evermoor producer Lime Pictures. “If you don’t invest in children’s live action content and if kids are used to watching oversees imports or movies, then where is your drama audience of tomorrow?”

Billy Macqueen, co-founder of Topsy and Tim indie Darrall Macqueen agreed with Pact’s suggestions, but feared they may be too late. He also raised concerns about the BBC and Channel 4’s attempts to change terms of trade.
“Putting quotas through is an act of parliament, which will take a year to implement if not longer,” he said, adding: “If the terms of trade do change, then we can kiss goodbye to all kids indies doing live action and animation as well.”
Richard Bradley, the joint managing director of Horrible Histories producer Lion Television, said: “If we want to have a robust children’s industry then it needs something of a different order of magnitude.
“I am not sure if quotas are the answer, but a strong commitment is needed by broadcasters to end the industry’s perpetual state of struggle to fund live action programming.”
The tax break for live-action children’s content is due to be introduced next month, in line with the benefits offered to animation and high-end television. 
“Tax breaks were a recognition by the government that something needed to be done about funding children’s culture,” explained Greg Childs, editorial director of the Children’s Media Conference.

“The issue now is about fully grasping the implication that funding children’s content will cost a considerable amount of money but that it is vital for the country’s cultural welfare.”

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