Historically, public service television for children was provided by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. The Broadcasting Act 1990 required commercial public service broadcasters (PSBs) to devote specific amounts of time to children’s broadcasting and there was a healthy level of children’s content across the channels.
However, the Communications Act 2003 downgraded children’s content from Tier 2 to Tier 3 programming, thus relieving commercial PSBs of their obligation to meet quantitative targets of children’s programming. For broadcasters, children’s content was seen as economically unviable as the advertising revenue it generated was significantly lower than other areas of programming. As such, no-one stood in the way of the Act and the government sleepwalked into facilitating a dramatic decline in children’s programming.
This decline was compounded in 2006, when Ofcom issued an advertising ban on high fat, salt and sugar foods (HFSS) during children’s programmes. Though an important ruling for children’s health, the ban further reduced revenues that PSBs could make on children’s content.
The decline has created a situation where the BBC has the monopoly on producing children’s programming by default; a cosy consensus that has suited providers no longer obliged to commission children’s content.
Save Kids’ Content UK aims to reverse the decline of children’s broadcasting on commercial PSBs since 2003 and ensure that there is a healthy and diverse mix of children’s programming on new digital platforms. Of course, as technology has evolved so too have the public’s viewing habits. However, children must not left behind by this process and Save Kids’ Content will fight to ensure that their voices are heard.
This campaign is a collaboration between The Ragdoll Foundation and PACT.