Thursday, August 17, 2006

Save Children's TV

I received an email recently about ITV backing out of children’s TV:

“You may have heard already that because of proposals to limit the advertising of high salt, sugar and fat content foods on TV, ITV are likely to pull out of making children’s programmes all together. You may think that’s a good thing but bear in mind that while they will still be broadcasting children’s programmes, these programmes will most likely be imports.

If this ban goes ahead, my fear is that while our kids might eat one or two more apples, they will be fed a diet of US cartoons and sitcoms that have little bearing on their own cultural identity.

TV is always the whipping boy for our cultural and social ills and there is little proof that junk food advertising actually plays a significant part in creating our over fed and unfit children. Parenting and the Food Industry do that.

An alliance of Industry professionals (PACT, BECTU, WGGB, VLV, etc) have started a campaign - Action for UK Children’s Media (AUKCM) - to save children’s TV. If you’d like to find out more, check out the Action for UK Children's Media website, and register your support.”


And this is from AUKCM's newsletter:

"There are a number of important issues facing the children's media industry and the children's audience, some short term, others slightly further off. The aims of the Campaign are broadly to ensure that children in the UK continue to enjoy and benefit from well-funded quality media, produced in this country, which addresses their lives, interests, values and concerns.

In this we form part of a wider effort to preserve children's cultural entitlement in the UK, and we are in discussion with groups already campaigning in this field. Equally we ally with organisations such as the Writers' Guild, the VLV, PACT and BAFTA who have taken strong positions on the preservation of the UK production base for children's programmes.

Funding for children's programming is coming under increasing pressure, partly from changes in technology and consumer habits, and from the regulation against high fat, sugar and salt foods advertising to children expected later this year. These pressures lead to ITV's plans to close their children's production arm and to requesting Ofcom to allow them to decrease their regulated hours of public service
kids' TV on ITV1.

The Campaign will focus on these issues in the short term, but our approach will be pragmatic and realistic. The immediate issues are only part of the problem. The likely escalation of the effects of funding shortages and the failure of regulation need a long-term Campaign strategy to find new ways of protecting UK children's media."

14 comments: said...

I agree! Parenting and diet need to be changed! Children need parents to be there for them and foster a loving and intelligent relationship.

Lucy said...

They also need MY PARENTS ARE ALIENS. Magic.


Fran said...

I work in the marketing industry and I'm also a father of three young children. If the government believes that advertising has such an enormous impact on what kids eat then there's a simple answer. Just use some of Whitehall's huge communications budget in a massive campaign to advertise carrots, apples and salads.

If our industry is as hypnotically powerful as some believe, then it's problem solved. Healthy kids.

If it's not, then be honest enough to address the real problem - parents.

Lucy said...

Parents are a serious problem, Fran but controversially, I think the kids themselves are too.

I'm not talking about young children here, where parents' action or inaction can make a massive difference, but tweens and teens - sometimes, NOTHING gets through to them, they see WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING or rather WHAT THEY IMAGINE OTHERS ARE DOING and follow blindly, no matter what their (good) parents say or do. I've worked with kids who have the most extraoridnary attitude and behavioural problems. The cause? Who knows - it's not the fact they're neglected or indulged, that's for certain. Seems to me like Kids can have a license to get away with murder: I've actually heard of kids putting themselves in care under The Children's Act 'cos of arguments with their parents about drinking, boyfriends, etc. Wish I was exaggerating. One girl, a committed drug addict, had her father charged with abduction when he dragged her out of a crack house - she was 14. So much is heard about kids' rights...what about parents' rights?

But massively off-topic here. I agree with Danny - save children's TV! Advertising does have sway in my opinion (else no one would see something on TV and go: "Interesting! I'll try that!") but parents do have the means to step in and NOT buy kids everything they want (and should, in my view), so to ban sugary food ads etc is daft.

Anonymous said...

Jamie Oliver has a lot to answer for now..huh?

griff said...

Oh come on guys admit it! there may be an element of "I want to preserve UK children's programmes because of cultural identity etc" but the reason the Writers' Guild and so on are involved can be summed up by "DAMN! ANOTHER POTENTIAL PAYING MARKET DISAPPEARING! QUICK, SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING".

Tell me I'm wrong ?

Lucy said...

I'd tell you my thoughts on Jamie Oliver, but I'm too much of a laydeee ; )

And of COURSE another paying market disappearing is a concern! Writers make precious little money and have scant opportunities as it is. Trying to get writing jobs in this country is like trying to pull hens' teeth sometimes. Pointless and they peck out your eyes...

It's true.

Danny Stack said...

I don't think a paying market and doing something worthwhile is mutually exclusive. What's wrong with continuing to do quality UK children's TV and making some money in the process? There's a danger we won't be able to do both, and I want to do both.

griff said...

Danny - Of course, you're right, combining making a living with doing something worthwhile is a consummation devoutly to be wished. It's just that the way today's blog entry completely focused on your altruistic desire to defend the rights of our children to watch Noddy instead of Barney - without ever mentioning the real motivation of DAMMIT THERE GOES ANOTHER GRAVY TRAIN - made me laugh. (By the way Danny I enjoy your blog immensely ).

Lucy - Yes I know a lot of writers make precious little money. But you're making it sound like that's a bad thing, and that because potentially lucrative opportunities for writers are drying up, that this is a social ill of some kind that ought to be rectified. Lots of people doing a lot more useful things earn poor money too. No-one owes writers a living. No-one is making you/me/us/them sit around at home all day dreaming up quirky cop buddy movies. And there's no obligation on society or government or business or industry or anyone else to make sure that the ever-growing army of writers up and down the country have enough paying opportunities to keep them comfortable. So many writers that I know seem to think they have an automatic right to earn a living from their talent and it drives me mad. It's great when some organisation (public or commercial) decides to fund a project that employs writers. But if they decide not to, well surely it's their money to do with as they wish and who's to criticise them ? (You can criticise them for being a crap TV station or whatever, but that's different...)

Danny Stack said...

The content of the post was not written by me (an email from a friend) but I agree with its basic sentiments.

Thanks for your comments Griff, great stuff, although I think that more opportunities for writers is a good thing, and writers expecting to earn a living just because they're a writer is a bad thing.

James Moran said...

Keep your knickers on Griff, nobody's saying that we're owed a living, or that a market drying up is a social ill. It's just better for everyone if we keep making homegrown stuff - better for us writers, better for the viewers. No, nobody's us forcing us to write, but it's the thing we do, and it doesn't mean we're not entitled to have a moan now and again. Don't tar us all with the same brush as these "so many writers that I know". We are not those writers. Tell those writers instead, and tell them we agree with you.

griff said...

James, fair enough, good reply and I will keep my undergarments firmly in place. I did feel there was an element of "how dare someone take away a market from poor hard done by writers" in the blog & comments, which just pushes my buttons, but you are certainly entitled to have a moan. As to your main point, I broadly agree that it's ideal for countries to create their own homegrown programming but only if there is a match in quality. You only have to visit Spain and watch some of the "local" output forced onto viewers via this kind of protectionism to understand why the Spanish are all crazy about American TV. (A great shame given that Spain produces writers like Arturo Perez-Reverte and films like Open Your Eyes or Lovers Of The Arctic Circle).

Lucy said...

Thanks James and Danny - I agree, no one owes any writers here a living. We do what we do because I love it, pure and simple. That's the great thing about a meritocracy. And I wasn't aware of any knickers flying about on my end - more's the pity.

Darryl said...

Why not ban fast food? Or make exercise compulsory? Bound to have a bigger impact than banning advertising!