The Children’s Media Foundation is demanding that government reinstate the £13m it is planning to claw back from the Young Audiences Content Fund.

The DCMS recently announced that it plans to take back £13m of the Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF), reducing the overall grant to the Fund from £57m to £44m.

The CMF says this 25% cut shows “scant regard for the vital role it has played in rejuvenating the children’s production sector, providing much needed UK-cultural content on platforms other than the BBC and expanding the range of programmes available to young people.”

The Foundation, along with industry organisations including Pact and Animation UK, campaigned to achieve additional funding for the children’s and youth sector, in response to the market failure proved by the Ofcom statistics that showed significantly reduced commissioning and spend in the children’s genre over ten years or more.

The money originally set-aside for the fund was originally earmarked for broadband roll-out, but when the commitment to a £57m fund was first announced, no mention was made of clawing any of it back before the project was completed.

Anna Home, Chair of the Children’s Media Foundation said today: “The 25% reduction seems petty-minded and illogical. Cutting back something perceived to be a potential success before the completion of the pilot makes no sense.”

Supporters of the Children’s Media Foundation have been in touch to express their disappointment and disbelief that the government could “give with one hand only to take away with the other”.

“This was more than a shot in the arm. It was a lifeline.”

“This news is heart breaking.  It shows a total lack of care for the children’s audience, and a total disregard for the work of the YACF to date, which has been a game changer for so many Independents.”

“Disappointing in what is an even more challenging landscape for UK children’s content producers throughout and post Covid”.

“The impact of the withdrawal of the funding will be devastating to many people, as well as detrimental to the audience. Production companies will have shows that have to be cancelled.”

CMF is currently compiling a report on the future of public service content for children and young people.  A range of academics and industry and political figures have already contributed with more to follow.  https://www.thechildrensmediafoundation.org/public-service-media-report.

The CMF is calling on the government to extend the life of the YAC Fund to a fourth year and reinstate its full funding – to allow the experiment to continue to build value for the children’s audience.

In the longer term the CMF is calling on the DCMS and Ofcom to learn lessons from the success of the YAC Fund. “When Ofcom reports to government on the future of our public service media framework in July, there should be specific recommendations to government that detail how a new body will fulfil that important function, with increased funding that uses a more innovative, self-sustaining financing model.   Continuing the Fund will also provide the basic structure for more radical approaches to competitive public service content going forward – potentially on new platforms and in new genres such as social and interactive media.”

The CMF has also invited the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to attend the Children’s Media Conference in July to join the CMF debate on the future of public service content for young people.

 

Jon Creamer