Pe­ter­ing out? Have the ipad and Youtube killed kids’kids TV?

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - OPINION - By Bill Gibb BGIBB@SUNDAYPOST.COM

Chil­dren’s TV favourite Blue Peter will cel­e­brate a big birth­day this week when pre­sen­ters – old and new – will mark the show’s 60th an­niver­sary.

But on the eve of the cel­e­bra­tion of the world’s long­est-run­ning chil­dren’s TV show, ex­perts fear for the genre.

Spend­ing on kids’ pro­gram­ming has slumped from £116 mil­lion to £70m in just over a decade as young­sters are in­creas­ingly aban­don­ing tra­di­tional pro­grammes such as Tele­tub­bies for so­cial me­dia and video-shar­ing web­sites.

But a new Of­com re­view of chil­dren’s con­tent in­sists it is vi­tal that the UK’S main TV chan­nels stump up and com­mit to mak­ing shows kids will want to watch.

ITV re­duced the amount of new Uk-made chil­dren’s pro­grammes on its main chan­nel from 158 hours in 2006 to 47 hours last year. Chan­nel 4 doesn’t show any new Uk-made pro­grammes specif­i­cally for chil­dren and Chan­nel 5 cut their Uk-made pre-school pro­gram­ming hours from 150 hours to 32.

“As long as the BBC is there I think there will con­tinue to be in­dige­nous chil­dren’s TV but the com­mer­cial chan­nels could do more, they need to raise their game,” said John Cook, pro­fes­sor in me­dia at Glas­gow Cale­do­nian Univer­sity.

“ITV, Chan­nel 4 and Chan­nel 5 are also pub­lic ser­vice broad­cast­ers, PSBS, and they there­fore have obli­ga­tions on them.”

The new Of­com re­port re­vealed that from 2010 and 2017, tele­vi­sion view­ing dropped by 40% for chil­dren aged four to nine and 47% for chil­dren aged 10 to 15.

Mean­while, Youtube is now used by 71% of five to seven-year-olds, ris­ing to 90% of 12 to 15-year-olds. And al­most half of house­holds with chil­dren have Net­flix.

The re­search showed that Youtube and Net­flix were chil­dren’s “des­ti­na­tion of choice”.

They said they liked the con­tent that “makes you laugh” or “in­spired you to try some­thing new”.

But Of­com are wor­ried about what chil­dren may be ex­posed to.

“We be­lieve on­line providers should do more and be more ac­count­able when it comes to guard­ing for the qual­ity of con­tent on their ser­vices, and help­ing to re­duce the risk of ex­pos­ing chil­dren to harm­ful ma­te­rial,” said the Chil­dren’s Con­tent Re­view re­port.

Pro­fes­sor Cook says the BBC’S com­mit­ment has been “rock solid” but feels there has been a marginal­i­sa­tion of pro­grammes like Blue Peter by not be­ing on BBC1 or 2 and now only avail­able on spe­cific chil­dren’s chan­nels. And the part that Blue Peter has played over the gen­er­a­tions can’t be over-es­ti­mated.

Prof Cook said: “Blue Peter has been such a pow­er­ful show. Their ex­pe­di­tions to for­eign coun­tries were ba­si­cally doc­u­men­taries and the ap­peals en­gaged mil­lions. It brought the world to chil­dren and didn’t just pro­vide en­ter­tain­ment.

“And it was do­ing that for 14 years be­fore John Craven’s News­round came along in 1972.”

Much of the con­tent aimed at young­sters now is Amer­i­can-owned and is of­ten car­toons.

“Keep­ing Bri­tish chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion alive has to be a key pri­or­ity for ev­ery­one in­volved in pub­lic ser­vice broad­cast­ing.”

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