Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has announced the development of a new multi-million pound pilot fund to help increase the variety of children’s television in the UK.
From 2019, £60 million will be made available to creators of children’s television content as part of a three-year pilot scheme aimed at creating greater variety in UK children’s television. The Government has said that programmes from new and diverse backgrounds, and those made in the nations and regions, will be a particular focus. This will provide welcome and much-needed funding to new and established makers of UK children’s television.
Over the past decade the output of children’s television from public service broadcasters (the BBC, ITV 1, Channel 4, Channel 5, and S4C) has been in decline, with spending falling by £55 million. The Government has responded by announcing a new fund through which up to £60 million will be made available for content creators to receive up to 50 per cent of the production and distribution costs of original children’s television shows.
The fund is still in development, but plans for the fund make clear that the money will be available for content broadcast on public service broadcasters, as well as on other free and widely available channels and on-demand platforms. There is speculation that it may be made available for online content too, however this has not yet been confirmed.
In 2016, the BBC accounted for 87 per cent of all first run UK originated children’s programming by public service broadcasters. The pilot is therefore aimed at stimulating greater variety in the children’s television market. The pilot runs alongside other measures taken by the Government in this area (for example, in 2014 the Government extended the tax relief for animation and high-end television programmes to UK children’s programmes). The funding for the pilot has been made available as a result of unspent funds from the previous licence fee settlement.
A detailed policy paper will be published setting out how the fund will work. The BFI has been provisionally appointed as fund administrator and will work with the Government on the fund’s final design, including whether the fund should include other genres in its scope. The funds will be distributed over three years as part of a pilot starting in 2019.