Report – The Young Audiences Content Fund, What Next?

Posted on: Thursday 07 July 2022 2:05pm by Cate Zerega

John McVay, OBE, was absent and sent a statement on behalf of Pact. 

Takeaways

  • The next step for the children’s media industry is to craft a single objective that captures the value of children’s content for its many stakeholders, including government, parents, institutions and teachers. Once this has been agreed upon, an ecosystem can begin to take shape.
  • A large number of children don’t have broadband access – accessibility needs to be part of the next steps.
  • Avoid too much doom and gloom. Focus on analysing and celebrating the achievements and successes of the YACF.

Host Faraz Osman began today’s session by discussing what comes next for children’s media after the cessation of the Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF). What has the industry learned from the fund and how do we build on its success?

Jon Gisby recommended that producers grieve the loss of the fund and move on. He asserted that the market won’t provide the breadth and depth needed for high-quality children’s content; the public money is gone and the fund can’t be recreated. The next step for creators is to ask where the money is and what content they can produce within those parameters. For example, industries such as museums and sports have a kids’ audience and need to engage with them. Look at partnering. Creators need to  adapt and use new models to go where the kids are – on social media. There, creators can build their audience and create energy around their project, then bring to commissioners. A built-in audience helps minimise the risk for the commissioner.

Oli Hyatt then presented a bold funding proposal on behalf of Animation UK:

  • A new fund would be complementary to the BBC. Public-service content has never been more important, but children don’t use linear television so content performance should be judged on a total audience reach. The BBC would share the success of the independents but remain the gatekeeper.
  • The Department of Education could contribute significant funding for innovative learning that sits around school curriculum. Demand for children’s content rocketed as teaching changed over lockdown, so the relationship and value here are already established.
  • Any creator would be eligible for funding, with the condition that the content is first provided for free to UK children.
  • Tax credits would be extended to perhaps 32%.
  • Internationally competitive projects would be incentivised.
  • Why not use the sale of Channel 4 to revolutionize the industry with funding of £100m over ten years for young people’s content?

John McVay‘s statement on behalf of PACT revealed that they are engaged in a major study of how future funding might be structured in a way that is economically attractive to the Treasury. He highlighted tax credits as a fundamental part of a new  funding structure.

Alison Stewart noted that tax credits take a long time to set up and she is concerned about the impact on smaller, live-action content. This content has less of an international market to help secure funding but it is a vital way for children to hear their voices, see their stories and make sense of the world. Caroline Roberts-Cherry has used tax credits, but without additional funding the money would not have stacked up to make the project viable. Paul Naha-Biswas agreed that increased tax credits help in the short term, but the rich content that reflects the uniqueness of the UK could become a casualty if a combination of funding is not lobbied for.

The session concluded with a Q&A:

  • Can a levy on streamers be used as a supplement?

Paul sees a levy as possible but it can’t be seen as an industrial policy to protect the sector, it needs to be presented as providing value to the stakeholder.

  • Is this conversation too UK based?

Would geo-blocking be a solution? Oli noted that creators can’t be paid for only the UK and then have their content streamed to the world.

  • Do you think children’s live-action will survive?

Alison is optimistic that it will survive, because kids want to see themselves on screen. Caroline advised that survival in the creative industries requires the hyde of a rhino and Pollyanna’s attitude!

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Cate Zerega

About the author

Cate Zerega

Freelance Production Coordinator

Cate has worked as a nanny, a talent agent, in casting & production. Cate’s resume means she no longer fears anything and has sunblock & headshots always about. She completed an MA in the screen industries in 2018 & works passionately to promoting female filmmakers. Read more