The ABC should have minimum quotas for Children’s TV and it should be supported with increased funding, according to the Australian Children’s Television Foundation.
Jenny Buckland, CEO for ACTF yesterday appeared before the House Of Representatives Inquiry into the Australian Film And Television Industry to argue the case for Australian Kid’s TV.
Her comments come at a time when the commercial television sector is asking to be relieved of its obligations to screen Australian children’s content.
“All three commercial channels appear to be moving to the development of online apps and destinations for children,” she said.
“Nine has recently launched the Kids Go App, for example. It’s just that they do not propose to invest any money in new Australian content for that audience because they can fill those destinations with toy based content provided for free from Hasbro or Lego or Mattel, or with cartoons that they can acquire from overseas for a flat $500 per episode if they have to pay at all.
“The commercial broadcasters also point to the ABC. And without any sense of irony, they point out that children are watching the children’s programs on the ABC in much greater numbers than they watch them on their own channels.”
But while the ABC leads the nation in children’s TV production, she said, it is reliant on government funding. ABC’s expenditure on children’s content has declined by 20% over the last four years to $17m last year. Yet under the Rudd Government the ABC was spending around $35 million a year on children’s content.
“All this just demonstrates that distinctively Australian children’s content is only here because successive Australian governments of all persuasions have made sure that it is a priority. It is to the Parliament of Australia that we owe thanks for the great children’s dramas like Dance Academy, Round The Twist, Ocean Girl, Nowhere Boys, Lockie Leonard and Little Lunch, as much as it is to any broadcaster,” Buckland said.
“I urge this Committee to make a recommendation that the ABC be mandated to commission minimum levels of new Australian children’s content each year, and that it receive adequate funding which is quarantined for children’s content in order to do so.
“I also urge the Committee to recognise that it is also important to see Australian children’s content on commercial platforms and to ask that the Australian and Children’s Content Review explore options and develop a new framework to ensure that Australian children’s content is supported on commercial platforms.”