Television regulator Ofcom and the BBC Trust have approved a 10% cut to BBC preschool channel CBeebies’ original production quota in a move to free up scheduling space for more co-productions.
Announced today in a blog post by director of BBC Children’s Joe Godwin, the change means no more than 30% of Cbeebies airtime can be acquired programs (up from 20%) with 70% now designated for originated programs (down from 80%).
According to Godwin, Ofcom currently describes originated programs as series that were fully-funded by the BBC at one point in time, which doesn’t necessarily mean they are new series.
“Seventeen-year-old episodes of Teletubbies count as ‘originations’ because they were once fully funded by us,” says Godwin in the statement.
“This change does not mean we’ll make fewer new original programs, but does mean we will repeat fewer of the elderly shows in the schedule, which is great for the audience.”
The quota reduction will now create extra flexibility for CBeebies to air more of its most popular acquired animated shows, such as Octonauts, Mike the Knight, Postman Pat, and Sarah and Duck.
“The current quota limits how much we can show these programs – and given how popular they are, and good value for money, allowing us to show them more is good news for children and for licence fee payers,” says Godwin.
“It’s also a much needed boost to the UK animation industry, as the vast majority of these CBeebies ‘acquisitions’ are produced and animated here in the UK. As part of this change, the BBC Trust has amended the CBeebies Service Licence to ensure that the majority of CBeebies animation is specifically created for UK audiences.”
He adds that CBeebies’ budgets will not change as a result of the quota change.
“This is not about spending less. It’s just about making better use of new programs and being less reliant on some older ones. The BBC is committed to the provision of high quality children’s content, and has a duty to encourage UK production. Today’s decision by Ofcom will help us do that even more.”