Parents unhappy with children's TV

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LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) Britain's independent TV regulator today said there needed to be a debate about the future of children's programming after a review found dissatisfied parents were worried about a lack of home-grown shows.

Ofcom said its review of children's TV, the most detailed assessment carried out, had shown that British-made children's programmes accounted for just 17 per cent of the total output aimed at youngsters.

However these shows attracted almost 40 per cent of viewing.

It also found that parents wanted more drama and factual programmes.

''This comprehensive study highlights the decline in home-grown commercial children's TV production and the revolution in young people's media consumption,'' said Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards.

''Parents are understandably concerned, and we now need a national debate on what measures, if any, can or should be taken.'' Programming for children has rocketed in the last few years.

In the last decade the number of channels dedicated to youngsters has risen from six to 25, Ofcom said, with 113,000 hours on offer in 2006.

However original shows made in Britain and broadcast for the first time only accounted for around 1 per cent of programmes.

Last year cartoons accounted for 61 per cent of children's programmes while the number of dramas, factual shows and pre-school programmes declined.

Investment in children's TV by commercial Public Service Broadcasters ITV1, GMTV, Channel 4 and Channel Five had also halved since 1998.

Overall spending on original children's programming had fallen from 127 million pounds in 1998 to 109 million pounds in 2006, the report said.

Ofcom said its review had found that the vast majority of parents believed children's TV should help their children to learn, raise awareness of different people and viewpoints, and represent different cultures and opinions.

''Satisfaction with the delivery of these purposes, however, is much lower,'' the report said, adding less than half believed public service broadcasters were delivering this.

''The overall findings from this review demonstrate that the public purposes for children's programming are not fully being met in some areas.'' REUTERS SG BST1337

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