Baroness Benjamin scores major victory to protect children’s television
Baroness Benjamin, a former children’s TV presenter, now peer, has won a major legislative battle to protect children’s television.
Since the 2003 Digital Economy Act, public broadcasters have had less obligation to commission programming for children.
The result has been a sharp decline in original children’s content on UK TV screens, which Floella Benjamin, who presented Play School among other children’s shows, has campaigned to reverse.
Benjamin’s amendment, which received cross-party support, returns content for children from tier three back to tier two. This means Ofcom now has the power to impose quotas, something a spokesperson for the regulator welcomed.
Benjamin has spent nine months of campaigning in Parliament to achieve this hard won victory and, in recognition of her role, the bill will bear her name rather than the government’s, a rare move. It’s notoriously difficult to get private member’s bills passed into law, and Benjamin thought it was all over in February when the government said they intended to keep the status quo.
However, she persisted, teaming up with a civil servant who fortuitously knew her from her former career. The Baroness told Broadcast magazine:“He said, ‘I totally agree. We’ve only got two weeks, but I promise we will make this happen. I watched you when I was little and I want my children to have the same affection that I had for shows I watched when I was young.'”
Still, there is more work to do in putting these new powers into practice, especially given the role online content and platforms now play. Luckily, the amendment is flexible enough that there is also the potential to address this.
Hetty Feather – Series 2
Filmed at Cobham Hall School, Kent
Ice Film are proud to be involved with the top CBBC children’s drama Hetty Feather, soon to return for a fourth season!