Friday, October 05, 2007

The future of children's television

The BBC reports:
Media regulator Ofcom has called for a national debate on the future of children's TV in Britain, saying just 17% of output is now homegrown.
"Calling for a debate" is what people do nowadays when they hold an opinion but are afraid to express it. So what Ofcom really means, I suspect, is that it thinks it is a very bad thing that so few children's programmes are British-made these days, but does not like to say so in case it upsets commercial interests or sounds racist or old-fashioned.

So let's hear some less mealy-mouthed opinions.

First, here is the great Oliver Postgate:
In our time we had been able to found great kingdoms of mountains, ice and snow in our cowsheds. In Peter's big barn we commanded infinities of Outer Space, starred it with heavenly bodies made from old Christmas decorations and made a moon for the Clangers.

Now, today, burdened with the search for the millions of pounds which they have to find to fund their glossy products, the entrepreneurs have to lead a very different sort of life. They must hurtle from country to country seeking subscriptions from the TV stations to fund the enormous cost of the films. Each of these stations will often require the format of the proposed film to be adapted to suit its own largest and dumbest market.

They have to do this because, for them, children are no longer children, they are a market. With so many millions at stake the entrepreneurs know that the bottom line must be 'to give the children of today only the sort of things that they already know they enjoy'.

They have to do this because they fear that if they don't the little so-and-so's might switch channels and the Company could lose a bit of its share of the lucrative merchandising market.
Second, here is Patrick West writing on Spiked:
How on earth is Grange Hill meant to stand as an exemplar of responsible children’s television? This was the show that reflected the woeful shortcomings of the comprehensive school system in the 1970s, and simultaneously perpetuated it in the 1980s by glamorising insubordination and rudeness in the classroom.
That's more like it.

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