The British organizers of the Second World Summit on Television for Children hope that the March 9 to 13 event, to be held in London, England, will continue the dialogue among international producers of children’s programming that was begun during the first summit held three years ago in Melbourne, Australia.
Over 800 attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a series of conferences, seminars and master classes to discuss the inherent creative and economic challenges that come with producing children’s programming on a local and global basis, to exchange information about changing government regulations, and to explore the opportunities that new media may offer in partnership with TV in the future.
‘What was started in Melbourne was an ongoing impetus to bring together the people who are concerned about children’s media, and to not just have a debate, but to keep the debate moving forward,’ says Anna Home, OBE, the retired head of BBC Children’s Television and chair of the second summit.
The first summit took place in March 1995 in Melbourne, organized by Dr. Patricia Edgar, director of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation. It drew 624 attendees from 72 countries. It was organized because Dr. Edgar believed that the globalization of children’s television turned programming issues that were once national concerns into international concerns.
‘Up until that time, there had not been a conscious effort to work together internationally on the issues that are pretty important in regards to children’s television,’ she says. ‘It was an issue that was waiting for leadership. . . . Within each country, within each region, there were common concerns, and a common wish to be able to do something, but as in everything, a lead has got to be taken to bring everyone together.’
Issues discussed at the first summit ranged from how to protect local culture within global programming to basic business issues, such as program financing, to how to find the right co-production partners.
Since the first summit, smaller, regional summits have been held in Asia and Africa in 1997. The International Research Forum on Children and Media Summit was held in April 1997 in Paris. A summit of the Americas is slated for 2000.
The 1995 World Summit resulted in the drafting of the Children’s Television Charter, a declaration outlining a series of children’s viewing rights that production companies, networks and governmental bodies should keep in mind when creating or regulating kids TV. The second summit will revisit the charter and assess how effectively it has been applied in different regions of the world.
Each day of this year’s summit will focus on a particular theme of the children’s TV industry, including production, regulations, economics and new media. The final day will look toward the future of children’s TV heading into the year 2000 and will review many of the major ideas and concepts that had been discussed earlier in the week.
Additionally, each day’s session will conclude with representatives from a specific region, such as Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America or Africa, making a presentation in which they can give their perspective on the status of children’s TV in their part of the world.
Concurrent with the summit will be a kids summit that will bring children from all over the world together to discuss among themselves issues concerning the state of kids TV. The children will host four master classes and present to adult audiences their opinions of children’s TV content, how kids should be treated, as well as their own proposed children’s TV charter.
The goal for British organizers is to let as many voices be heard as possible. ‘Melbourne was an experience that people came away from extremely stimulated, and I hope they do with this as well,’ says Home. ‘I hope a lot of new ways of thinking, cooperating, co-producing, co-financing come out of it. It’s an opportunity for people to relax a little and enjoy themselves, as well as be stimulated with a lot of exciting ideas.’
No concrete plans for a third world children’s summit have been announced, but discussions have been held to schedule the next one in 2001.