Children’s television in the UK has received a boost as the industry has been given $80 million. It is hoped that this will lead to the British kids’ television industry creating the next ‘Peppa Pig’. The money is available not only to the BBC, but also to ITV, Channel 4, and SVOD services, such as Amazon and Netflix. As part of the deal, the government is planning to fund 50% of the production and distribution of new children’s shows. The reason for this is the business has declined in recent years. In fact, spending has fallen by around $74 million over the last decade. This equates to a drop of 26% in spending between 2006 and 2016.
The leader in the kids’ television industry in the UK remains the BBC as their programs account for an estimated 87% of all children’s programming. The BBC run kids channels including CBeebies and CBBC. The funding pot was first mooted by the government in May 2016 and will be run by the British Film Industry (BFI). In 2018, a detailed policy paper will be written that outlines hoe the awards will be distributed and how the funds will work. The awards will be distributed starting at the beginning of 2019 and will continue to 2020.
Anne Wood, who created the ‘Teletubbies’, has welcomed the funding and said that the industry was in desperate need of more support. Someone who agreed with this statement was the Chair of the Children’s Media Foundation, Anna Home. According to Home, the funding is a necessary stimulus for children’s media-makers in the UK that is giving the potential for exciting content that producers would not be able to make if the funding was not available to commission such programs.
Karen Bradley, the UK’s Culture Secretary, is also in support of this project. She described kids television as not just being about entertainment; it is also a stimulating and educational experience that helps young children to learn about life and the world. She went on to say that giving investment into this sector will give producers the boost they need that will enable them to make innovative content aimed at a wider audience.
The Chief Executive of Pact, John McVay, said that Pact had been campaigning for some time for investment in television content aimed at children. They wanted to encourage new people into this market. In addition to this incentive, there has also been the introduction of PSB criteria relating to the Digital Economy Act. McVay believes that a combination of the funding and the new PSB criteria is likely to encourage and foster new talent.
As this funding will not be available to producers until it is awarded in 2019, it is probably a while yet before children and parents can expect a new program that is as big as ‘Peppa Pig’ to hit the screens. The popular series about a young pig and her adventures with her family and friends was created by Neville Astley and Mark Baker who also write and direct the show. It first aired on May 31, 2004.