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New Ofcom report sends chill through UK indie community

The long-awaited Ofcom review on the state of kids TV production in the UK was released today, and the results can only be deemed disheartening for the local production community. The report found 83% of children's programming currently on air in the UK is produced outside the country, with just 17% being produced locally.
October 3, 2007

The long-awaited Ofcom review on the state of kids TV production in the UK was released today, and the results can only be deemed disheartening for the local production community. The report found 83% of children’s programming currently on air in the UK is produced outside the country, with just 17% being produced locally.

Moreover, investment in first-run, original British series dropped by US$36 million to US$222.1 million last year from a high of US$258.8 million in 1998. Additionally, only 1% of total hours of children’s programming last year was made in the UK. And as most producers working in the market already know, the BBC is by far the largest commissioner of original kids programming, with commercial nets like Disney, Nick and Cartoon Network accounting for only 10% of money spent on new series.

There were some bright lights, however. Ofcom found that UK kids still prefer UK programming, as these series made up just 17% of total children’s hours on TV, but delivered a 38% share of viewers. And 81% of UK parents agree that kids TV has an important social role to play, with 78% saying programs should represent different cultures and opinions from around the country.

And Ofcom’s not finished yet. The regulatory body is continuing to collect feedback from this report until December 20, and will publish the first phase of its Public Service Broadcast review in spring 2008, while phase 2 will follow that fall, with and a final policy statement being issued in early 2009. For a full rundown of the report, go to www.ofcom.org.uk.

About The Author
Gary Rusak is a freelance writer based in Toronto. He has covered the kids entertainment industry for the last decade with a special interest in licensing, retail and consumer products. You can reach him at garyrusak@gmail.com

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