Report – Commissioner Conversations: PSBs
This session aims to demystify the Public Service Broadcasting Commissioner’s process.
• Commissioners are optimistic about the coming year, as there is such a variety of great kids’ content.
• Research is key when pitching to commissioners.
Alison Bakunowich, SVP and General Manager of Nickelodeon UK and Ireland, NEE and Milkshake was first to speak, commenting on the enthusiasm for new writers across the channels that she manages. Alison noted that as they have the facilities to provide writer’s rooms, they are a great place for new talent, and they open their doors to upcoming creatives. On the changing media landscape, Alison said that they are embracing YouTube, and creating content for the platform, such as Bedtime Stories using their lead presenters.
Josie Grierson, Production and Programme Manager at Milkshake!, works closely with Alison, commissioning a diverse range of content. Their commissioning process, Josie explained, has an open-door policy and is year-round. As a commissioner, Josie is interested in character and story-led content, which has characters the audience can connect with, and has some humour within it. Humour is key for Milkshake!, as both parents and children can connect to it.
Head of digital channels at ITV, Paul Mortimer, began by explaining that CITV is different to other channels, because they are a long-established brand who morphed from an after school block on the main channel. CITV take pride in representing their audience, which has a male skew and typically lives outside of London. The commissioning process for ITV is similar across their channels, and Paul encouraged producers to come directly to him with ideas or approach the commissioning teams directly if there is an existing relationship.
Emily Jones, Commissioning Editor for Education at Channel 4, discussed Channel 4’s remit to reach certain audiences, mainly the 10-14 audience and the 14-19 audience. Channel 4 are looking to reach the 14-19 audience with shocking ideas, and young voices driving those ideas. Channel 4, Emily explained, are looking to be the voice of teenagers. In terms of commissioning, Emily stressed the value of a great title and a one-liner, as this takes a lot less of a commissioner’s time, as well as your own. This means commissioners can immediately know if there is potentially something great there.
All of the speakers expressed optimism about the coming year, with Paul commenting that there is currently a lot of choice and good quality content for kids to enjoy. Emily noted that these are challenging times for children’s TV, especially in the 14-19 age range, so Channel 4 will not be resting on their laurels. However, they have done very well in the 10-14 age range. Alison and Josie are very optimistic, as Nick and Milkshake! had their best years ever last year.
Written by Shannon Reeve
Nickelodeon UK and Ireland, NEE and Milkshake!
SVP and General Manager
Production and Programme Manager
Commissioning Editor Education and Documentaries
Head of Digital Channels & Acquisitions
Founder & Director