Report – Commissioner Conversations, Teens

Posted on: Friday 08 July 2022 9:50am by Simon Bor

Takeaways

  • E4 looks for larger-than-life characters that leap off the screen.
  • With the Welsh government wanting a million new Welsh speakers by 2050, S4C needs more Welsh-language content for teens.
  • BBC Bitesize is accessed by 80% of children at least once a month, going up to 87% for 15-16s.
  • Channel 4 Digital is led and fed by the creators they work with.

Harriet Williams (BFI Young Audiences Content Fund) introduced the final session of this year’s commissioner conversations with a look at the teen market. On the panel were Evie Buckley (Channel 4 Digital), Helen Foulkes (BBC), Sioned Geraint (S4C) and Karl Warner (Channel 4).

Sioned has recently taken up the post of content commissioner for children and learners at S4C. She has inherited two teen dramas made with YACF funding. With the Welsh government wanting a million new Welsh speakers by 2050, children need more Welsh-language content and she is looking at how to increase content aimed at the neglected 13-to-16-year-olds. It’s early days, but she is looking at drama that resonates with their audience, remembering that living in Cardiff is very different from living in North Wales. She is also aware of digital poverty in the country, with some people not having access to proper broadband. With S4C content streamed on iPlayer, they also have a lot of viewers outside Wales.

Karl explained that as head of E4, E4extra and the digital music channel, his content was aimed at 16-34s. The pandemic has meant that scripted live-action has been put on hold for the time being and they concentrate on character-led factual and reality programming. The biggest show is Married at First Sight. Karl said that they work on the basis that kids always want to age up.

Helen looks after education content on BBC, which includes BBC Teach, BBC Bitesize and Newsround. Bitesize is accessed by 80% of children at least once a month, going up to 87% for 15-16s. It has always been digital and has expanded. They cater for children up to 16, but it is used by older students as well. In the pandemic, it became an even more important tool. It has always been there for teens and while often entertaining, it always follows the curriculum. They also give advice for checking for fake news online by using the CRAP test. C = Current and up to date. R = Relevant. A = trusted Authorship and P = Purpose.

Back at Channel 4, Evie spoke about its digital content: programming made for social media platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. The main approach is to empower the voices of creators. ‘Obviously, TikTok is a revolutionary platform we are exploring.’ They can partner up new entrants with production companies. They are commissioning for the 16-24 age group with a push for 13-18s, championing young voices. At the moment they are stockpiling content ready for the launch. The bold part of their strategy is not to focus on getting people onto their linear channels. They are led and fed by the creators they work with.

Harriet asked what the commissioners are looking for? Sioned said her remit was open-ended, she is not looking for big pitches. Karl wanted larger-than-life characters that leap off the screen. Helen confirmed they commission off written briefs while Evie said she was looking for digital talent across YouTube.

Durations: Bitesize content is five minutes or shorter, though half hours of content broken up into five-minute chunks are often required. For Evie, YouTube videos could be 10 to 15 minutes, while TikToks were normally shorter at 1 to 3 minutes.

All the panellists were happy to be contacted by email in the first instance. Helen would put producers on the mailing list for call-outs as they occur.

 

Blog CMC 2020 Blog CMC Ebulletin

Simon Bor

About the author

Simon Bor

Writer

Simon studied Animation at Farnham, was awarded an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is now at Bath Spa University studying ‘Writing for Young People’. He set up Honeycomb Animation with Sara Bor and has been involved in children’s television since the mid-1980s. As a writer, Simon has… Read more