Report – Are We Open?

Posted on: Wednesday 05 July 2017 12:25pm by Gabrielle Smith

Prof. Jeanette Steemers moderated this morning’s session dedicated to covering many of the policy issues facing children’s television today, in a ‘Question Time’ panel format – asking how is the industry open for ideas, challenges and potential problems within the current climate?


  • Policy, budget and funding will impact the creative industries in short and long term
  • Securing terms of trade suitable for everyone should be an industry priority
  • UK is a powerhouse of creative talent, so thought should be given to how we protect and nurture it now and in future


Leading the panel’s discussion, Prof. Jeannette Steemers reminded delegates of regulator Ofcom’s upcoming consultation to ‘Hold the BBC to account for the delivery of its mission and public purposes’, which is due to close on 17 July. She said that in the spirit of the open forum of the panel, the current opportunity to say what you want and raise concerns facing children’s creative industries was right now, so take the chance to have your say!

Given the recent news that the BBC is set to invest over £34 million, Anne Brogan from Kindle Entertainment reflected: “The BBC have put children right at the forefront of their vision for the future and fought so hard and so long to achieve that type of profile and prominence.’  However, it seems what is crucial is developing a terms of trade that everyone understands. She went on to say: “Something that does need more discussion is terms of commissioning content.”

Anne Home, Patron of the Children’s Media Foundation, asked the first key question to the panel – positing whether this perhaps is a once in a generation opportunity to invigorate children’s television or not? This was something the whole panel (and audience) felt strongly about. Speaking with regards to the animation sector, Kate O’Connor from Animation UK welcomed the new investment and what this will mean. She highlighted that “we talk about a golden era we’re about to enter into… we’ve got to see the BBC in the context of the discussion of contestable funds, but we also need to see how this will add up – a real change in the sector.”

Of course, the landscape of a post-Brexit industry is one that will undoubtedly affect the children’s media industries in the UK specifically. Jack Powell, working with Creative Industries Federation, has already identified the potential problems around staffing, international collaborations and of course visa and movement control. The positives of new investment and future development are plentiful, naturally. But as Rosina Robson from PACT pointed out – “How do you avoid funding content that would have been made anyway?”.

With so many people, problems and disciplines within the growing industry for children’s creative media, things can at times seem unsure. What is for certain? The scale of the task ahead is absolutely enormous.

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Gabrielle Smith

About the author

Gabrielle Smith

Northumbria University, Ph.D Student

Gabrielle Smith is a final-year Ph.D candidate at Northumbria University, Newcastle and is a film and television studies graduate from the universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow. Her current research explores the role of the British children’s television presenter. She has spoken at several international conferences, including the plenary panel of… Read more