The BBC has announced a £34 million investment in children’s programming – the greatest such investment in a generation.
The move, said BBC Director-General Tony Hall, reaffirmed the Corporation’s “commitment to our youngest audiences,” putting “children’s [programming] front and centre throughout the charter renewal process.”
The expanded budget will fund an enhanced online offering for children, as well as maintaining current children’s programming on the BBC’s children’s television channels, CBeebies and CBBC.
The increased spend on online provision of children’s services reflects the increased amount of time that young people are spending on the internet, and is an effort by the broadcaster to ensure that as many children as possible benefit from its services.
This is part of a broader narrative of concern in the BBC’s recent Annual Plan for 2017/18 which notes that if current trends – which see young viewers turning away from TV and radio - continue, “by the mid-2020’s a significant minority of license fee payers could no longer be part of our shared national conversation, and might not be getting value to justify their license fee.”
The investment will see the Children’s budget rise to £124.4 million by 2019/20 – up from £110 million today. By 2019/20, a quarter of that (over £30 million annually) will be spent online.
Alice Webb, the BBC’s Director of Children’s said, “whilst we’ll continue to make exceptional, distinctive public service UK children’s content across all our platforms, we’ll also be able to develop a more personal online service that meets the evolving needs of our audience.”