Posted on: Friday 05 July 2013 3:37pm by Jayne Kirkham

Major international broadcasters outline their multi-platform commissioning future strategies.

Top Ten Takeaways:

  • Never pitch in a toilet.
  • Check out broadcasters’ websites for a flavour of their brand
  • Check out broadcasters’ websites for commissioning information and requirements
  • For public service broadcasters, make sure you understand the needs of the child: does your proposal speak to life in that child’s country?
  • For all broadcasters make sure you understand who they are making programmes for: are they serving the parent or the child?
  • Proposals have to work across all platforms but MUST work on Linear TV first.
  • Never pitch to someone before they’ve had their first cup of coffee.  Or Tea.
  • Consider what you can bring that’s new to the channel but will fit into its core branding.
  • 1 Week catch up rights essential to the broadcaster
  • If there is any hint of a bathroom furnishing in the room, do not pitch.

Irish RTE has a new dedicated channel for under 7s, RTE Jnr with a strand TRTE (Totally Radical Telly) for older children on their main channel.  Public Service is at the core of its content giving children equal rights and access as viewers.  The PSB ethos is reflected in their song “This is our world, and you can do it too.”  The new dedicated channel makes a conscious choice for multi-platform content: radio, mobile, TV and online.  All TV drama for example can work as pure audio.  The theme of the channel is ‘watch, play and listen’ ensuring that the gatekeeper parents are engaged and supportive.  With 34 hours PER DAY to fill, there is a reliance on acquisitions but peppered throughout the schedule (and also into the adult schedules too) are opportunities to make programmes that reflect kids’ lives in Ireland and explore the world they’re growing up in. For further details register on the IPU part of the RTE website.  Regular updates of their rolling commissioning are also posted on the Screen Producers’ Ireland website.

S4C is a dedicated Welsh Language channel.  36% of welsh speakers are now children under 15 in urban schools.  So the programming has grown to reflect the needs of this growing audience.  For the Under 6’s Cyw is a bright and popular provision that covers all platforms including live events. The catch up service is well used, with 44% of users being kids.  S4C is keen to innovate and try new ways of using emerging platforms. For example, with most parents not speaking welsh, they have created a twitter based English-Welsh dictionary to help parents understand the programmes they watch with their children.  While the main focus is on local content, S4C has an international arm that looks to make local welsh content globally attractive with English versions and more international content elements.  Contact for more details.

American digital channel Sprout is only 8 years old but has massive reach into US homes where it serves the needs of parents by providing content that matches the time of day – calming at bedtime etc; 3 hour blocks of short form bundled together with hosted bits, with VOD offering longer form content.  It has relied upon acquisitions but is now moving into original content and is very keen to work with UK talent.  Producers talk to them.  The target audience is 2-6 years but they’re looking for things that will fit into their programming blocks for the older end of the range.

Spanish RTVE is also a public service provider.  It’s core business is still TV but they want shows that kids can find wherever they are in terms of platforms and technology.  They recently launched a dedicated 24 hour kids channel Clan. Government funded, they are up for co-producing as well as acquiring content that now must be multiplatform.  Come to them with interactive projects rather than series.  Head of Children’s Content is Yago Fandiño Lousa

ZDF is the second largest PSB in Germany and is massive across Europe.  They do everything.  For Children they provide ZDFtivi, a dedicated kids block on the main channel with its own website and along with other PS broadcaster ARD, are responsible for Kika, providing 40% of its content.  ZDF like to work closely with partners such as ABC in Australia, BBC in UK.  They are famous for heritage brands like Heidi but also more recent hits such as Wolfblood and H2O Just add water.  Shows have to work on the linear main channels as well as online.  7 day catch up is essential.

Introduced by – Lana Castleman, Editor, Kidscreen Magazine

Speakers – Andrew Beecham, Senior VP Sprout (USA); Sheila DeCourcy, Cross-Divisional Head of Children’s Content, RTE (Ireland); Yago Fandiño Lousa, Head of Children’s Content, RTVE (Spain) Katharina Pietzsch, ZDF Enterprises (Germany); Sioned Roberts, Content Commissioner: Children’s Learning and Digital, S4C (Wales)

Produced by – Anthony Utley, Animation Consultant

Sponsored by – Ceidog

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Jayne Kirkham – Writer

About the author

Jayne Kirkham


Jayne Kirkham is a freelance writer,  part time lecturer at the Northern Film School and on behalf of the Children's Media Foundation, she is clerk to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children's Media and the Arts.  Recent writing commissions include episodes of Bing Bunny on CBeebies, a feature length… Read more