BBC To Move All Children's Programming To Their DTT Channels CBBC and CBeebies

From C21Media:
BBC1, BBC2 to drop kids' shows

The BBC's governing body has approved plans to drop children’s programming from flagship channels BBC1 and BBC2.

All BBC Children’s content is moving to digital free-to-air channels CBBC and CBeebies after the BBC Trust today approved the corporation’s Delivering Quality First (DQF) cost-saving initiative.

The BBC is cutting its costs by 20% in a bid to save millions by 2017 and re-position itself as a leading digital broadcaster. All of the UK will soon have access to CBBC and CBeebies as digital switchover continues.

The proposal was first put forward last October, with the BBC claiming CBBC and CBeebies could be extended to act as a “spine” for a “more-integrated” online and web-connected TV service.

Today, the Trust said: “Children’s output remains a cornerstone of the BBC’s public service offering and one of the BBC’s foremost editorial priorities.”

It also greenlit plans to maintain the current levels of investment in original programming at CBBC and CBeebies. The Trust claims this will see a higher amount of the licence fee going on the children’s genre.

“By safeguarding the additional investment into such content over recent years, this means that the proportion of the licence fee spent on children’s output (excluding productivity savings) will be higher than currently,” said the Trust in a statement.

Viewing figures for BBC1 and BBC2′s dedicated children’s blocks have been falling steadily in recent years, and the Trust said the likely impact on children would be “very low.”

Only 7% of BBC Children’s target audience watches the BBC1 block, while just 2.3% watch BBC2. Blue Peter, the flagship magazine show that has aired on the BBC for more than 60 years, has recently struggled to attract viewers as they turn to other types of content. Last Friday’s episode took a 3.2% share.

“We are mindful, however, that the re-scheduling may risk some short-term confusion among viewers about where to find children’s output. We have therefore asked the executive to ensure there is sufficient cross-promotion and marketing of the changes prior to the re-scheduling, to help mitigate any possible audience impact,” added the Trust.

Children’s programming will likely be replaced on BBC1 by daytime programming taken from BBC2, while BBC2 will run repeats of primetime factual shows.

Jesse Whittock

TAGS: Delivering Quality First
GENRES: Children's
SHOWS: Blue Peter
Also, from Broadcast:
BBC local radio cuts reduced; kids shows removed from BBC1/BBC2

The BBC Trust has given the green light to the corporation’s cost-cutting plans, which include revised plans to better protect local radio and the Asian Network - and the removal of children’s programming from BBC1 and BBC2.

Local radio appears to be the biggest winner, with cuts of £18m now having been reduced to just £6m. Content spend is set to reduce by just £400k.

Asian Network is set to benefit from a £1m re-investment, although the station will see broadcast hours cut, closing between midnight and 6am.

The changes came after widespread concern about the impact proposed cuts would have on the harder-to-reach audience of those types of services. The Trust told the executive it was rejecting half of the cuts proposed, and asked it to find another source of savings.

The executive now says it has done this through even further productivity savings, although could not confirm whether this equated to more redundancies.

On top of those readjustments, it has also benefited from nearly £4m a year going back into the business as a result of reductions in retransmission fees it pays to BSkyB. When the move was announced back in March, the BBC pledged to reinvest the money back into local radio.

The changes also mean children’s programming will be taken off BBC1 and BBC2 – a move widely expected within the BBC as it seeks to realign its daytime schedule.

This will include long-running entertainment series Blue Peter, which has aired on BBC1 since 1958.

The Trust’s final approval means the executive can now plough forwards with its cutbacks.

Trust chair Chris Patetn said: “This is the end of a lengthy process for the BBC, designed to ensure we can meet a tough but fair licence settlement for the next five years. Delivering the changes we have approved today will be challenging, but they are necessary.

“We’ve listened carefully to the views of those who care about the BBC, and taken our time to get this right, encouraging the executive to amend plans where we think they need further thought, as the changes to local radio proposals show.

“Our focus now is to ensure that audiences notice as little change as possible to the services they know and love, and we will be monitoring audience reactions very carefully through our ongoing programme of reviews and reports.”

A BBC spokesman said: “We welcome the BBC Trust’s full approval of our Delivering Quality First proposals.

“The coming years will involve a significant effort from people at every level of the BBC to deliver the savings while we continue to provide the quality programmes and services that audiences expect from us.”


BBC1 to lose £37.4m (3.2%)
BBC2 to lose £26.2m (5.8%)
BBC3 to lose £8m (9.4%)
BBC4 is to lose £5m (9.2%)
CBBC is to lose £2.4m (2.7%)

NB. these figures relate to content spend only and do not include figures for staffing, etc.
Also from Broadcast:
For a more realistic view of kids’ TV, ask the family

The unsurprising announcement that kids’ shows are to be removed from BBC1 and BBC2 provoked quite a reaction in the comments section of last week; a reaction that, for the life of me, I can’t fathom.

There was talk of kids’ programmes being “ghettoised”, segregated and marginalised, parents and children being prevented from watching TV together, the slow death of children’s programming and – I think – the end of civilization as we know it.

Some in-depth research (involving a quick glance at the top 10 children’s programmes in the genre overview of Broadcast) reveals exactly how much kids will miss watching their shows on the “main channels” – as BBC1 and BBC2 were quaintly referred to by a number of the anonymous commentators. There was not a single entry for BBC1 or BBC2 in last week’s figures.

That’s because BBC1 and BBC2 are not the main channels for children. All of the children’s programmes in the top 10 were on CBBC, the week before that it was all CBBC and CBeebies, the week before that it was CBBC, CBeebies and Disney. The week before that… you get the idea. In other words, kids watch their shows where they find them. Given the choice between watching them on a channel that runs their programmes for only a few hours a day or watching them all day, every day on their own dedicated channels, they know which side their bread is buttered on and which side to tune in to.

As for the suggestion that taking kids’ programmes off BBC1 and BBC2 was somehow ghettoising them, that is, as far as I understand the word ghetto, completely absurd. Surely children having their own channel is the polar opposite. In fact, you could argue that only having a couple of hours of kids’ TV on a main channel was the ghetto. The plethora of kids’ channels from Nickelodeon to Disney to CBBC – not forgetting their sibling -channels – is, as far as kids are -concerned, the promised land.

It is only fair that I declare an interest: I have kids and used to be one myself. So I feel I am perfectly placed to comment on this issue. Having conducted a survey of all the children currently residing at my house, they both agree with me. Kids simply do not care what channel they watch as long as their favourite programmes are on it.

My daughter, aged nine, said the channel she watched the most was 600 – no mention of CBBC, just a channel number. My son, aged 12, claimed he had to watch CBBC mostly (as his sister was always watching it) but if there was nothing good on, he would watch “stuff” on iPlayer; if all else failed, he’d watch Top Gear. Both were faintly amazed when I told them children’s programmes were being dropped from BBC1 and BBC2 as neither was particularly aware that these channels showed kids’ TV.

Simply put, kids will seek out their favourite shows and they don’t care where they are. They are not loyal and aren’t really aware of the difference between channels – they just want to be entertained. It’s not news, but these feckless kids will grow up and will have their hands on the remote 24/7, or whatever it is we will use to change channels then, and they will watch shows – and not channels.

Damon Pattison is managing director of Lucky Day Productions
Also from C21Media:
Moving with the times

Moving the BBC’s children's programmes off its terrestrial channels and on to digital networks will not harm programme production but low budgets could, writes Jesse Whittock.

Earlier this month, the BBC’s governing body the BBC Trust approved plans to shift children’s programming off flagship channels BBC1 and BBC2. The predictable reaction from the UK press was to wail about tradition being ignored and iconic kids’ shows like Blue Peter being sidelined.

But there’s much more to this story than history – in fact, the defining moments of BBC Children’s future are yet to come.

Quite how moving such content to diginets CBBC and CBeebies equates to the end of family viewing, as former Blue Peter presenter Valerie Singleton told The Daily Telegraph last week, is a mystery to me. Equally baffling is why parent’s group ParentsOutloud claimed the BBC is “ghettoising” kids’ content. It’s not – the BBC is simply changing with the times.

Taking children’s content away from the Beeb’s flagship channels is justified because pretty much the entire UK now has digital terrestrial television, or will have it by the end of 2012. And if the YouView platform ever materialises, it will be even easier to watch kids’ programmes.

In addition, these days British children commonly have access to iPhones and tablets. They don’t care about Blue Peter’s 54-year run on BBC1, whether you do or not. That's the reality.

The next 18 months will be pivotal for both CBeebies and CBBC, where children’s content will ultimately be aired exclusively. It’s a period that could potentially define both channels, and this should be welcomed. The early effects of the BBC’s Delivering Quality First cost-saving initiative, which will chop 20% of the pubcaster’s budget by 2017, are starting to be felt and in the future the key factor will be the quality of the programmes the pair commissions and produces in-house.

CBBC – which is still to reveal whether current head of acquisitions and drama development Sarah Muller will replace outgoing controller Damian Kavanagh as expected – gets the lion’s share of the available cash to create expensive drama and documentary series and strands. CBeebies, which is the better performing of the two channels, has to make do with far less.

The BBC’s annual report for 2010/11 showed CBBC had a content budget of £78.3m (US$122.8m) last year and CBeebies £28.5m. Adding distribution and infrastructure spending, these figures increased to £99.3m and £38.7m, respectively.

That’s all much less than the Beeb’s adult-skewing networks, of course, but still nothing to be sniffed at, especially when you consider the Commercial Broadcasters' Association recently said its members (Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network) together invest just £20m a year in kids’ programming. (Although £20m is nothing to be sniffed at, either.)

The idea that CBBC vacuums up most of the available money has riled some commentators, such as UK media writer Maggie Brown in this article for The Guardian. “It is barely discussed outside of the cloistered world of children’s TV production, but kids’ channel CBeebies, wildly popular with parents of young children, is poorly funded to the point of shabby mistreatment,” she wrote.

CBeebies’ controller Kay Benbow is too diplomatic to get into a debate about “shabby” treatment or financial squabbles within the BBC, but she did have this to say in a speech to industry figures this month: “The good news is that both BBC children’s channels are performing extremely well. CBeebies often reaches 50% of its target audience on TV, and over the past year has reached between 850,000 and one million unique users a week and has one of the highest audience appreciations across the BBC, of 88%.”

Speaking just before it emerged that kids’ content was switching to the digital channels, she added: “We need to make sure that we have a prominent place wherever BBC content is offered. It’s crucial that children’s TV remains a priority for the BBC so that CBeebies and CBBC can continue to offer quality UK content to UK children.”

And while Benbow would surely love to swap CBeebies’ budget for CBBC's, her channel is managing to create some high-quality programmes regardless, largely thanks to independent producers and the global coproduction market. Recent examples include boys-skewing action toon Tree Fu Tom, created with FremantleMedia Enterprises, which has been a ratings success; and 26-part dress-up series Let’s Play, which Zodiak Media-owned prodco The Foundation is producing for a late-2012 transmission.

Sure, this will often mean the Beeb’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, doesn’t get its hands on potentially lucrative distribution and other ancillary rights (or at least has to share them), but the priority is to create series that are long-lasting and either educational or encourge physical activity. Tree Fu Tom and Let’s Play do so and CBeebies is rightly making a lot of noise about them.

A critical period for BBC kids’ content is coming but resisting change and complaining about the end of traditions is not the way forward.

Jesse Whittock

TAGS: Budgets

GENRES: Children's

SHOWS: Blue Peter, Let's Play, Tree Fu Tom

PEOPLE: Damian Kavanagh, Kay Benbow, Maggie Brown, Sarah Muller, Valerie Singleton

COMPANIES: BBC, BBC1, BBC2, Cartoon Network, CBBC, CBeebies, COBA, Disney, FremantleMedia Enterprises, Nickelodeon, The Foundation, Zodiak Media




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