Report – What’s Next For UK Kids?
- In the face of post-Brexit uncertainty, the need for the industry to unite is stronger than ever with regard to future access to European talent and funding.
- Contestable Fund will affect Public Service Broadcasters and content commissioning.
- More needs to be done to protect children online and diverse representation can be improved.
Hosting today’s session, Stewart Purvis CBE looked ahead to the future of post-Brexit access to talent and funding, the impact of a changing media landscape and how this will affect Public Service Broadcasters (PSB). VT footage of Margot James, Minister for Digital and Creative Industries, commented that “more needs to be done to protect children from a range of online harms”. James also made reference to the PSB Contestable Fund, due to be administered by the BFI, which she described as “just one part of a broader government effort to stimulate the children’s television market”.
Purvis then led the session, guided by questions from the audience. The first asked how realistic it would be to expect British content to qualify as EU quota in a post-Brexit world. Purvis questioned access to talent and access to funds and pressed panellist Simon Terrington from Ofcom for his thoughts. Terrington emphasised that Brexit is a matter for government. However, as Ofcom are not political he suggested that international broadcasters based in the UK could potentially relocate throughout Europe in the future, which would be a loss to the current vibrant UK market. Magnus Brooke from ITV plc also added that buyers want to put money into work that goes towards the quota. Ben Roberts from BFI suggested that we need to make a case for economic value of funds, saying that he thinks governmental bodies want to see what is coming in and going out. He stressed the need to measure value for money.
The next question came from a member of the audience, probing the subject of current numbers of female writers in children’s television. Anna Home OBE from The Children’s Media Foundation (the only woman on the panel) said that there is more scope for women writers, addressing the room saying: “Please do it. You can do it!”. Charles Lauder from Indie Club also said that more also needs to be done in terms of ethnic diversity, describing a lack thereof within children’s media as “a leadership issue”. The panel referenced Project Diamond, but questioned whether it is more important to wait for data or act now. Later in discussions, Lauder emphasised his stance again, saying “unheard voices must be heard”.
The following question put to the panel asked if they supported a contestable fund. On behalf of the BFI, Ben Roberts gave an overview of the plans. He explained how it is intended for content aimed at children and young people up to the age of 18 and it will require an element of match funding due to only bringing 50% of budget to the table. The BFI are also not planning to additionally editorialise content. He said they would hopefully be looking after a £60m fund working with PSBs and the fund should open on 1st April 2019.
Discussion broached the impact competitors such as Netflix and YouTube are having upon UK Public Service Broadcasters. Despite concerns, Simon Terrington said that it is not always the role of the Pubic Service Broadcaster to “go with the grain” and follow in the footsteps of such competitors, as PSBs bring a different offering.
With the final question asked to the floor, rather than the panel, the audience were asked if they would be interested in pitching to the contestable fund. Many hands in the room raised in the air. Conversations were sparked by this forward-thinking and in-depth session and they followed out into the hall as the crowd dispersed.
Stewart Purvis CBE
Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs
Anna Home OBE
The Children's Media Foundation
Margot James MP (video message)
Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries
Director, Film Fund
Director of Content Policy
The Children's Media Foundation
Freelance Writer & Board Member
Executive Producer and Consultant