A nice cross-section of the Canadian kids industry turned up on a chilly, rainy day in Toronto yesterday for the Children, Youth and Media Conference hosted by the Alliance for Children and Television, where the org revealed preliminary results on a kids TV study years in the making.
ACT revealed the preliminary results of a national study on Canadian children’s and youth programming, led by a team of researchers at the University of Montreal and based on more 1,000 hours of programming.
The study found the target audience of children’s programs was statistically related to the country of origin. Canada and US were the top-two countries producing kids shows that target kids (64% and 67%, respectively), while Canadian co-pros (58%) and other foreign productions (60%) had the highest percentages in terms of preschool programs.
Canada ranked third out of 24 countries for highest percentage of female characters.
Program theme and target audience was found to be significant, with social relationships and learning (43% and 31%, respectively) coming out on top in preschool programming and social relationships (28%), adventure (24%), learning (17%), fighting and violence (11%) and games (9%) topping the list in the six to 12 demo.
Overall the study found that in recent years, there has been a decline in the quantity of Canadian productions. About 50% of broadcasted programs were Canadian in the 1990s vs. 36% today.
As for the conference, the day kicked off with a talk from Anna Home about the state of the UK production industry and her efforts of the Save Kids TV organization (which she chairs) to propose the creation of an alternative public service kids content provider. She said government support is null and the initiative is hungry for private funding to give it momentum.
Next Dafna Lemish, a visiting scholar with the Center on Media and Child Health at Harvard medical school, shared the findings of her book Screening Gender on Children’s Television: The Views of Producers Around the World. Lemish touched on points such as the imbalance of female to male characters in kids series, hyper-sexualization of girl characters, cultural stereotypes and the domestic roles of men and women.
Along with a workshop on programming for preschoolers and a pitching clinic, the afternoon included a panel discussion that took advice from experts on how to drive profit on a new multi-platform property, GeoFreakZ from CCI and Smiley Guys, in partnership with Teletoon Canada.