The Future of Children’s TV

In the spring we will be publishing a new research report that looks at children, how they see the world, where they get their information from, which media they consume and how new media content can be more effectively targeted at children to enable them to be better informed about the rest of the world.

Children’s television is currently under the spotlight. Parliamentarians are increasingly concerned about the quality of life of children growing up in the UK and the Government has recognised that there is market failure in the production of home grown content aimed at children. This means that the market alone is not producing content of sufficient quality and range.

DCMS (the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) has therefore earmarked the sum of £51m taken from the licence fee to be redirected at children’s content over the next three years.  The Government will be launching a Contestable Fund in April which aims to encourage increased production of content for children by the commercial public service broadcasters (PSBs) – ITV, Channel 4 and Five.

In addition, Ofcom, the media industry regulator, has asked the commercial PSBs to address the current deficit in supply of new UK produced content for children on their channels. They are due to report back to Ofcom with plans by the end of March and Ofcom will publicly report on this in June.

We believe that this makes a report on children’s TV timely as it gives us an opportunity to influence the type of content that the PSBs will be producing. Our goal is that some of this new content will cover global stories and issues, in a way that is accessible and engaging for children of all ages.


Why we need new research

The aim of our new research will be to present an evidence base that establishes both the need for new international content and the benefits of such content.

There is existing research to show that an awareness among children of how people live in other countries leads to greater tolerance (Think Global, 2010). And recently published research from Childwise shows that in 2018 the number of children worrying about war, terrorism and global events has increased significantly in the past year – one in three children aged between 9 and 16 said they were more worried about conflict in the world than anything else.

It is IBT’s view that no broadcaster in the UK provides adequate content to explain the wider world to children. The reason we focus on broadcasters is that the content they transmit is regulated, high quality and produced from a UK cultural perspective. Online content is not regulated for harm and offence or accuracy.

This report will examine the real benefits of children having access to international content, establish the current level of provision of such content and explore with children of different age groups the type of content they enjoy and the kind of international content that is most likely to appeal to them.

We are keen to hear about the experience of IBT members who work with children so do please get in touch if you’d like to find out more about this research.


Mark Galloway
IBT Executive Director
January 3, 2019

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