Floella Benjamin warns British children’s TVs could ‘disappear from screens’
Legendary children’s TV presenter Floella Benjamin has warned that UK children’s TV could “disappear from screens” as the sector faces market failure.
The Play School star, now known as Baroness Benjamin, has called on the Government to support funding for the sector so that a program that reflects British children’s lives can be sustained.
The Liberal Democrat counterpart said at the House of Lords: “Since the Young Audiences Content Fund closed early, which provides up to 50% of the show budget, new commercial content has been available to the public. for children in the UK continues to decline.
“The children’s television production sector faces a market failure and a major challenge.
“And without funding, TV shows that reflect the lives of British children could disappear from national screens, which would be a tragedy.”
Baron Benjamin highlighted a proposal by the Union of Television and Film Producers (Treaty) to help the sector reduce taxes.
“Pact is proposing new 40 per cent tax breaks to help keep this hugely important sector thriving,” she said.
“So how is the Government doing its part to ensure that children across the country have access to high-quality British children’s programming and whether the tax relief proposed by the Treaty is supported? support to make sure we have more of the UK’s public commerce services playing children’s content?”
Whitley Bay culture minister Lord Parkinson responded: “The content fund for young audiences has always been designed as a three-year pilot.
“Now that it’s all over, we reserve the right to evaluate the entire competitive funding model to understand how it could be used to help.
“Any further investment from public funds will need to be considered against this and future broadcasting needs, but we are supporting children’s television to ensure that future generations can benefit from it as much as previous generations.”
He added: “The government recognizes the special social, educational and economic importance of television for children.
“That’s why we’ve put in place a range of measures to support it; Ongoing animation and tax relief schemes for children supported the production of more than 840 shows.
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“Working with Baroness Benjamin, we introduced powers to Ofcom to monitor and set criteria for providing television to children.
“And, of course, children’s TV has been selected for a competitive funding pilot, which has supported over 280 hours of new content.”
Arts consultant and fellow Labor Baron McIntosh of Hudnall has warned that the US children’s program market is poised to fill any gap in the UK market.
“Mrs Benjamin rightly pointed out that the danger at the moment is an oversupply of perfectly reasonable content from elsewhere, mainly from the United States, especially for the public,” she said. youth.”
“Can the minister answer the question of what that is doing to the skill base that we have in this country?”
The minister assured her that the Government wanted to make sure there was “specifically British” content and that it was helping the creative sector address the skills gap.
He said: “The government is clear that we want to see specifically British content so that young people who have grown up in this country can watch it on their televisions and on their tablets, regardless of their age. see what the content is like.
“In terms of skills, through our creative industries vision, the department is working to address skills gaps even within the creative industries to ensure we can continue to create world leading content.”
Former culture minister and Tory counterpart Lord Kamall asked what public service broadcasters have to offer when it comes to children’s television that commercial channels do not.
Lord Parkinson replied: “Commercial broadcasters do deliver excellent content, but public service broadcasters play a unique role in ensuring underserved groups are served. .
“There’s not always the same commercial potential in children’s television, which is why we have specific areas of work to focus on.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/floella-benjamin-warns-british-childrens-tv-could-disappear-from-screens-42325295.html Floella Benjamin warns British children’s TVs could ‘disappear from screens’