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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 13:45 GMT
Broadcasters urged to protect children
A White Paper will urge all TV broadcasters to respect their respnsibilty to children
A White Paper will urge all TV broadcasters to respect their respnsibilty to children
Broadcasters have been warned by the government to pay closer attention to the nine o'clock watershed to protect children from violent programming.

Speaking in London, broadcasting minister Janet Anderson told the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV) pressure group the government shared its "concerns over the transmission of violent and unsuitable material in ever earlier slots".

She added that a forthcoming government white paper would emphasise the importance of the watershed where children were concerned.


There are genuine concerns over the violent content of some children's programmes such as Power Rangers

Janet Anderson

Unregulated satellite and cable channels in particular are to be targeted as more and more children gain access to them in the home.

These stations buy in more imported programmes than terrestrial channels because they are a cheaper option than commissioning or producing in-house productions.

However, the government and VLV believe this has led to an increase in violent images at times when children are watching and to a general reduction in quality.

Ms Anderson singled out for particular criticism programmes such as fantasy live action series Power Rangers.

"There are genuine concerns over the violent content of some children's programmes such as Power Rangers," she said.

"TV executives sometimes argue that advertising revenues are low when children's programmes are showing so that the cheapest option - buying in undemanding cartoons from abroad - becomes the easiest option," she added.

Responsibility

Ms Anderson acknowledged that some broadcasters were offering "excellent" drama and information programmes for children.

She cited programmes such as ITV's Art Attack and The Worst Witch together with the BBC's See How They Run as examples.

Janet Anderson
Ms Anderson said parents could not be expected to monitor all their children's viewing

Despite concentrating on the cable and satellite channels, Ms Anderson said the white paper would also urge the BBC and ITV not to become complacent.

Both broadcasters, she said, should remember their "public service obligation towards children".

In conclusion, Ms Anderson underlined that children's viewing habits showed they wanted high-quality programmes.

The six most popular children's programmes in 1998 included three home-produced dramas, two cartoons and one information programme.

Parents could not, she said, be expected to monitor every minute of their children's early evening viewing and had a right to expect broadcasters to act responsibly.

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