Friday, 16 October 2009

Magic of iPlayer

Generations of British children have grown up with some of the most creative and best loved children's programmes in the world. But what is in store for the children of tomorrow? The creator of Grange Hill, Brookside and Hollyoaks, Phil Redmond, gave his view on the future of children's television on the BBC.

This very introduction, lead me to iPlayer and Phil Redmond’s 50 minute talk by the Royal Television Society. I was engaged from start to finish, apart from feeling that I was listening to Ringo Star (Beatles!) with a very dry sense of humour. I was impressed not only with his fantastic story telling, but by the absolute drive and passion of Phil for articulating the need for an environment that continues to prioritise the creation and delivery of content that children would engage, relate to and be enthused by in years to come.

I can’t do justice to the whole lecture, but wanted to highlight a few key snippets:

Phil talked about today’s children being submersed in their Xbox Live and online experiences, such as Facebook and how a broadcaster needs to build content to compete with these new mediums. For example, why will tomorrows 14-year-old tune into a broadcast channel, instead of logging onto the web. We are all working towards bring these world’s together!

This question though, is a good lead into a core debate for UK broadcasters; the role of a public service broadcaster verses a commercial broadcaster. Phil drew the comparison very well, centred around children’s programming, he captured beautifully that the BBC Trust see’s “Children’s Programming at the heart of the Public Service remit”, whilst in contrast drew reference a recent statement from Sky’s Chief Executive, James Murdock, that “the only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit”

The world of television is moving very quickly, policy, standards and technology have a significant role in creating the environment to allow creative and compelling services to be brought to the broadcast and emerging online screens. However, Phil reminded me that a balance always has to be in place between content that engages and informs our society as much as it entertains.

At a personal level, the many early mornings of sitting on the sofa with my children over the last 11 years, has been made much easier by the rich, engaging and educational programming available from the BBC’s Children’s channels... Cbeebies and CBBC...

Anyway, if you have a spare 50 minutes, this is a must watch.

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