UK government launches £60MN children’s television competition | Programming | News | Rapid TV News
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Aiming to find the next Grange Hill, Peppa Pig and Byker Grove, the UK government has announced a major initiative to search for the next big thing in UK kids TV.
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In addition to supporting the nation's broadcast sector, the contestable fund also aims to halt the decline of UK produced children's content and reverse the growing trend of airing repeats. The programme will also include more support for programming in indigenous UK languages such as Welsh and Gaelic; a multi-million-pound boost for commercial radio; and a special fund to help fledgling production companies develop and pitch their original ideas to make them a reality.

The BBC is the dominant buyer and broadcaster of UK children’s content, currently accounting for 87% of all first-run UK originated children’s programming by public service broadcasters. Even though the UK government accepts that the BBC already shows high quality content through CBBC and CBeebies, the fund aims to increase plurality and support new voices, ideas, and content on a broader range of channels and platforms.

Moreover, the UK government is concerned that production levels of new children’s content have declined over the past decade, with public service broadcasters spending roughly 40% less than they did in 2006. It believes that as a result, a significant amount of children’s programming on children’s channels now consist of repeats. In 2016, 98% of children’s content on commercial children’s channels and 91% on public service broadcasters were repeats.

To directly combat this decline in content for younger people in the UK, £57 million will be invested in to a Young Audiences Content Fund. This will focus on funding a new influx of creative and distinctive content that represent UK children and teenagers today. As much as 5% of the Young Audiences fund will support production companies develop their ideas.

Commenting on the fund and its aims, UK Minister for Digital at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport  Margot James said: “Young people in the UK deserve high quality content that entertains, informs and reflects their experiences growing up across the country today. The UK broadcasting and production sectors are world renowned, and a success story to be proud of. This innovative project is an instrumental part of our support for the UK’s vibrant media sector and will help it continue to go from strength to strength.”

Further guidance, including how to apply to both of the funds, will be published by the fund administrators in the new year. The pilot will then be open for applications in April 2019.