Childsplay

Zipngeorge “the only consequence of the regulations will be a hit on the commercial incomes of channels targeting young people. the only consequence of that will be a decline in the quality of the content on those channels. which is in no one’s interest.”
Posted by chris stephenson on Sunday, 19 November 2006 at 23:18

More hours + less investment = lower quality.  Should have been an easy equation to forecast.  Not so for Ofcom, who last week published a report into the state of children’s TV.  Apparently it’s bleak.  Whilst the hours of dedicated kids TV have trebled over recent years (with the emergence of dedicated children’s channels), investment across the public service broadcasting channels, has – according to Ofcom – declined somewhere in the region of 20%.

Channels create programmes that people want to watch.  They can then charge advertisers to reach those audiences.  This funds programme making.  And round we go. It should be so easy, Childsplay even.  But no.  By pandering to the notion that advertising has the ability to magically make kids – or anyone for that matter – buy things (if only it were that easy!), and by therefore barring a significant proportion of advertisers from investing in the kids TV market, Ofcom has by its own actions significantly reduced the amount of investment commercial channels can obtain from advertisers.

Ofcom are ignoring the fundamental commerciality of the market.  Worse, they seem to be implying that they should be able to re-engineer the situation with further legislation:

Mr Thickett, who is overseeing the report, points out that "Ofcom has powers to make recommendations but our power is only to look at the market as a whole … we have no powers to prevent them [broadcasters] doing what they feel they need to do."

Broadcasters feel they need to reduce investment not despite, but because of Ofcom’s actions.  Broadcasters are reducing the investment in kids TV precisely because of the pressures of the commercial marketplace, pressures that have been exacerbated by the junk food ban.

Advertisers still target kids via media investment.  But the marketplace has forced advertisers to divert investment away from TV into other media channels – channels that have no PSB remit in delivering quality educational kids television.

Are kids getting thinner?  I doubt it!  Will the government – thru Ofcom – continue to pander to the needs of a nanny state and target advertising?  Very possibly.  Alcohol advertising ban anyone?

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