The UK government has unveiled more details of a £60 million initiative to help support kids TV.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has today announced that the Contestable Fund, which aims to halt the decline of UK produced children’s content, will also include more support for programming in indigenous UK languages such as Welsh and Gaelic; a multi-million pound boost for commercial radio; and a special fund to help fledgling production companies develop and pitch their original ideas.

In December 2017 plans for a pilot fund were announced and following talks with the industry the final elements of the initiative have been unveiled today.

Production levels of new children’s content have declined over the past decade, with public service broadcasters spending roughly 40% less than they did in 2006. In 2016, 98% of children’s content on commercial children’s channels and 91% on public service broadcasters were repeats. To combat this decline, £57 million will be invested in to a Young Audiences Content Fund. This will focus on funding a new influx of creative and distinctive content that represent UK children and teenagers today. Five per cent of the Young Audiences fund will support production companies develop their ideas.

Additional features of the £60 million Contestable Fund include a boost to indigenous UK languages programming, with an aim to invest five per cent of the total fund on this.

Minister for Digital Margot James said: “Young people in the UK deserve high quality content that entertains, informs and reflects their experiences growing up across the country today. The UK broadcasting and production sectors are world renowned, and a success story to be proud of. This innovative project is an instrumental part of our support for the UK’s vibrant media sector and will help it continue to go from strength to strength.”

John McVay OBE, Chief Executive of PACT said: “Pact welcomes the contestable fund pilot and is pleased that the government has listened to industry feedback to help shape the fund. Pact championed the need for development funding and the focus on children’s content and is pleased this has been recognised. This will help bring new voices into the industry and people’s lives.”

Also announced today as part of the Contestable Fund is a £3m Audio Content Fund which will encourage greater innovation and experimentation in the commercial radio sector.

Further guidance, including how to apply to both of the funds, will be published by the fund administrators in the new year. The pilot will then be open for applications in April 2019.

Jon Creamer

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