Report – Meet The Commissioners: PSBs
The session began with a presentation by changemaker Yasmin Lodhi:
This session aimed to demystify the Public Service Broadcaster commissioning process – walking the audience through the stages of pitching, development and production for PSB TV shows
- Each PSB has a different approach to children’s coverage, depending on their remit
- Consider language when pitching to S4C
- Talk to people and do your research!
First to the floor, Dom Bird, Head of Formats, Music & Education, Channel 4, discussed the fact that C4 do not have any kids’ channels currently, raising the question of what the channel is mandated to do. Children’s policy is of course informed by remits imposed by Ofcom, he said, and C4’s takes the strategic point of view that what they can do best is to create content for older children and young adults. The 10-14-year-old demographic thoroughly enjoy ‘Secret Lives of 5 Year Olds’ and ‘The Jump’, he added, which are perfect for family viewing. Channel 4 also provide programmes and documentaries directly aimed at young adults. These range from ‘Gay to Z’, ‘Ackley Bridge’, ‘Hollyoaks’ and a new series of the low tariff production ’Stage School’.
Additional panelist Emily Jones commissions education programmes for Channel 4, and talked about a ‘Masters of LEGO’ programme aimed at 10-14s, which she said is one of the channel’s best kept secrets and a good example of family viewing. Whilst this isn’t a new style of programming and has been previously pitched, this competition show fits perfectly with C4 in terms of timing and simplicity. On reflection, younger children and family viewing sits perfectly in the 19.30 slot on C4, they thought. But on the question of whether they might venture into actual ‘kids’ programming, the response was that they don’t want to hoover up the younger children audience – they’re motivated by the 10-14s, teens and young adults.
Sarah Muller, Head of Children’s at Channel 5, commented on how Milkshake! has a special place in children’s and adults lives. Sarah’s vision for the brand can be likened to a Selfridges shop window – containing only the very best products for TV and online, whilst keeping everything contemporary and fresh. She added that although rebranding begins this July, the new ‘refreshed’ Milkshake! looked thrilling, with great storytelling and striking characters in all content.
Simon Tomkins, Manager of Programme Strategy: New & Future Audiences, ITV, talked about how their triple BAFTA award-winning CITV targets 6-12 year olds. CITV’s tone aims to be cheeky and relevant, but with a British feel. Whilst it is not intended for pre-school, the aim is that it’s by kids for kids – they’re always asking their audience for feedback and to get involved and interact.
Sioned Wyn Roberts has been with S4C for five years, and is currently their Content Commissioner, Children’s & Learning. ‘Deian and Loli’ is a kids drama for pre-school, and is by far their most successful commission. Sioned commented that the Welsh audience is very unique and loyal. Their viewers want to see Wales and Welsh-speaking as a priority, with mostly original content from Welsh independents. Indies outside of Wales are welcome to pitch, but must partner up with a Welsh-speaking producer.
Some of the pitching tips that Sioned reminded the audience of are to consider Welsh nams and how these convert into other languages, such as the super-successful Peppa and Bodge. She also says you should be able to pitch your show in two lines. See http://www.s4c.cymru/en/production/ for more details on what they’re looking for.
By Guest Blogger Christina Evans, U Music TV
Head of Formats, Music & Education
Head of Children’s
Manager of Programme Strategy: New & Future Audiences
Sioned Wyn Roberts
Content Commissioner, Children’s & Learning for S4C
Director of Programming & Distribution