Floella Benjamin highlights dangers to British children’s TV programming

“Legendary” Lib Dem peer Floella Benjamin has always championed children’s issues and this one is dear to her heart. People still ask her what is through the round window (sorry – I know that reference will go over the head of millennials, but it brings back very happy memories for many people older than that).

She is worried that children’s programmes could disappear entirely. The Evening Standard quotes her:

Since the early closure of the Young Audience Content Fund, which offered up to 50% of programme budgets, the amount of newly-made UK commercial children’s content continues to decrease.

The children’s television production sector faces market failure and a huge challenge.

And without funding, television programmes which reflect British children’s lives could disappear from the nation’s screens, this would be a tragedy.

A proposal by the Producers’ Alliance for Television and Cinema (Pact) would help the sector with 40% tax relief. In the Lords she asked:

So how is the Government living up to its responsibility to ensure that the nation’s children are accessing high quality British children’s programming, and will the tax break proposed by Pact be supported to ensure we have more UK commercial public service broadcasting children’s content?

In reply the Culture minister Lord Parkinson referred to several schemes that support children’s TV in the UK, but warned that the lack of interest in children’s programming by the commercial channels threw the responsibility back on public service broadcasting. But as Floella was emphasising that requires an investment in training and skills in the commercial British TV production industry which supplies children’s content to the public service broadcasters.

If this doesn’t happen then our children will be fed a diet of programmes from other countries. This is not to disparage the quality of content originating overseas, but surely the core offering to children in the UK should be home produced and represent the cultural issues of their homeland?


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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One Comment

  • Steve Trevethan 4th Feb '23 - 9:43am

    Thank you for a crucially important article!
    Might it be that without a dynamic, well funded public sector in communication/ entertainment/education, our media will become yet more controlled by the considerable and growing self-seeking element of the communications industry?
    Might this be a prime, but submerged, purpose of Neo-Liberalism which our party needs to expose and attack?
    Might it be that without vibrant, powerful and high status public sector for all the necessities of life in a complex society, including banking, housing, health and so on, we have no real choices and so are exposed to exploitation?

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