As outlined by Director-General Tony Hall, the BBC’s Annual Plan will draw on the strength of the UK broadcaster’s media literacy initiative, School Report (pictured), while upping investments in distinctively British content and talent. The pubcaster will also further personalize the BBC iPlayer and continue to expand its BBC World Service.
Launched this month as a collaboration between BBC Academy and BBC News, School Report provides mentoring in 1,000 UK classes (as well as online or at events) from leading journalists including Huw Edwards, Tina Daheley, Nikki Fox, Kamal Ahmed and Amol Rajan. Along with free online materials, classroom activities and video tutorials, the program also features an interactive game developed by Aardman, which lets players experience what it’s like to be a BBC journalist in the heart of the newsroom.
As for public service spend on kids content for 2018/19, the BBC plans to spend US$93 million (£66 million) on CBBC and US$42 million (£30 million) on its preschool net CBeebies. New commissions include a creative sharing app for kids ages six to 12 and Daydream Believers, a comedy drama series that follows a young pop group’s first steps in the music industry. The latter will also feature interactive and social media elements.
In terms of iPlayer, the BBC expects to grow beyond 15 million monthly subscribers by improving the service through more customization, an enhanced user experience and more live content. As for online and digital services, US$277 million (£196 million) has been allotted for 2018/19.
The Annual Report comes as the UK government is moving forward with its 2016 proposal to inject up to US$81 million (£60 million) in production and distribution funding over three years to bolster locally produced original children’s TV content.
Announced on December 30 by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, the fund will launch in 2019 and be available for broadcast content on commercial public service broadcasters (PSBs) including ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. It will also be accessible for other free-TV networks, on-demand services and possibly online platforms. And as previously announced, an additional US$44 million will be spent by the BBC over the next three years to significantly boost BBC Children’s online budget.