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Save Kids’ Content UK campaign launched

Save Kids’ Content UK, a new campaign to highlight and reverse the decline of UK-made children’s programming, was launched last week by a cross-party group of MPs, Pact and the Ragdoll Foundation.

The campaign, which was launched in the House of Commons, is calling on the government to address the significant decline of UK-made children’s content over the last fifteen years, and provide more support for the UK’s struggling children’s television production sector. An open letter highlighting the decline and asking what the government intends to do to address the issue is to be sent to the new Culture Secretary Karen Bradley MP, and signatories will include parliamentarians, academics and senior industry representatives.

Spending by public service broadcasters (PSBs) on producing children’s programming has plummeted over the past fifteen years, dropping by a staggering 93% since 2002.

Since the passing of the 2003 Communications Act, which downgraded children’s content from Tier 2 to Tier 3 programming, children have fast become one of the most underserved demographics on public service television.

Anne Wood CBE, founder of the Ragdoll Foundation, said:

“The Save Kids’ Content UK campaign raises a crucial issue, which is that until the government addresses the huge decline of original British children’s programming then the sector will continue to die out.

“Children are now subjected to repeats, re-makes or cheap to buy programming from abroad. This programming cannot relate to them nor provides stimulating viewing. Save Kids’ Content UK is determined to ensure that British children are able to watch high quality, innovative and, most importantly, UK-made programmes that reflect their cultural heritage.”

John McVay, Chief Executive of Pact, said:

“The lack of investment in British children’s TV programming has resulted in a severe decline of original content. It is crucial that children have television programmes that they can identify with, and which are both entertaining and educational.

 “We need to ensure that British children’s television has a future, and that’s why we’re urging the government to look at every possible option to encourage the commercial public service broadcasters to commission more content.”

A report by the campaign outlines support for the conclusions made by Lord Puttnam in his recent review of public service television. These stated that in order to maintain a true diversity of genres then commercial PSBs should be required to produce ‘at risk’ content as a condition of their public service status – in particular children’s programming.

Save Kids’ Content UK has already received the support of the broadcaster, writer and former MP Gyles Brandreth and a number of senior industry representatives.

The launch event heard from speakers including former children’s minister Tim Loughton MP, Shadow Education Minister Lord Watson, and Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West and the host of the event. It brought together parliamentarians, industry representatives, academics, TV personalities and others, to highlight the importance of high quality programming that entertains, educates and informs, and which children in the UK can identify with.

Find out more about the campaign at www.savekidscontent.org.uk.

Read the Save Kids Content UK: Time to Act Report.

Stay in the loop with the latest updates on Twitter: @savekidscontent