The Australian Children’s Television Foundation has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of an additional $20million funding, but warns of a crossroads for Children’s TV.
The government’s removal of Drama, Documentary and Children’s sub-quotas means networks can devise their own mix of the three genres to come up with 250 points annually -with a cap on 50 for documentary.
“Children’s screen content is both a mirror and a window in a child’s life. We currently stand on the brink of a great opportunity or an irretrievable loss for our nation’s children, the broader community, and our local screen industry,” said Jenny Buckland the CEO of the ACTF, “by making this announcement the Minister has shown that he recognises how important it is that Australian children see their lives reflected on screen, they experience recognition, affirmation, and gain positive role models; helping them to imagine all the possibilities for someone who looks and sounds like them.”
The new quota rules removes any compunction for commercial broadcasters to meet a minimum of 260-hours-per-year of children’s content (both drama / non-drama). Screen Producers Australia, Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance and the Australian Writers’ Guild have all expressed concerns over the demise of children’s content on commercial TV, leaving a cash-strapped ABC to pick up the slack.
In a statement the Australian Writers’ Guild said, “Kids’ content is likely to be the first casualty because of this decision, which will have a lasting and irrevocable impact on our culture. Although the government will boost ACTF’s support package by $20m to compensate for this announcement, it is unclear if they will increase funding to the ABC and SBS, who will be left with the critical responsibility of programming local content for future generations of Australian children. Our stories say something about us. They define who we are. Our children deserve them.”
Janet Holmes à Court, Chair of the ACTF Board added, “This additional funding will help us be the catalyst for more of the amazing children’s content like Hardball, Little Lunch, The Inbestigators, Little J and Big Cuz, Mortified and Lockie Leonard, that the ACTF has been supporting and distributing for nearly 40 years.”