In a series of columns leading up to the Second World Summit on Television for Children in March, Anna Home, OBE, the retired head of BBC Children’s Television and the chair of the summit, has discussed some of the issues facing broadcasters and producers of children’s television. This month, she profiles the summit.
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With only a few weeks to go, the pace is heating up in the offices of the Second World Summit on Television for Children. The summit is set to get off to a lively start with the TV on Trial session, which examines the nature of the child audience. Douglas Rushkoff, the American writer and media theorist, will present his view of ‘screenagers,’ children who are multimedia literate and unconcerned with traditional forms of entertainment. He will be challenged by Carnegie prize-winning author Philip Pullman, who will argue the validity of conventional narrative structure. Findings will also be reported from the St. Helena project, which studied a group of children exposed to TV for the first time.
Anne Wood of Ragdoll Productions, creator of Teletubbies, will be among the speakers in a preschool session. She will be joined by participants from the Philippines, Japan and China. The first of the special regional sessions will feature Africa, with speakers from different language areas of the continent.
Master classes and screenings begin on the first day and programs from the video library will be available for screening. Kinderkanal and the Goethe Institute will host a lunch at which the nominees for the 1998 Prix Jeunesse will be announced. The agent provocateur-the person responsible for summing up the day’s events-will be Michael Forte, of U.K.-based Carlton Television.
Day two will focus on the political aspects of children’s television. Peggy Charren, the veteran American campaigner for quality children’s TV, will chair a session on the political context of children’s television. The issue of media education will be discussed by a panel from South Africa, Russia and Australia. The regional forum will focus on Eastern Europe. Day two’s agent provocateur is Wim Vanseverin from BRTN.
The topic of day three is money matters. Sessions will examine co-productions, the role of advertisers and non-governmental organizations. Speakers include David Brit of Children’s Television Workshop and Susanne MŸller of ZDF. The regional forum features Latin America. Michel Lavoie of SDAC Productions is the agent provocateur.
New media are the focus of day four. Sessions will look at the relationship between TV and new media and at issues of regulation. The keynote speaker is Chris Smith, the U.K.’s Minister for Culture. Asia will be the focus of the regional forum, and the agent provocateur will be Linda Khan of Scholastic Productions.
A look to the future of children’s programming wraps up the week on day five.
Speakers included are Carol Bellamy of UNICEF and Dr. Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, Premier of Free State Province South Africa. The final session will highlight the results of the week.
A parallel children’s event involving 30 children from all over the world will be running alongside the main conference. They will participate in some of the adult sessions, but will also have sessions of their own. The children will present their view of the summit on the final day.