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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 23:24 GMT
'Crisis' in children's TV debated
A child watching television
Children's television has suffered recent cuts in funding
Broadcasters, producers and regulators have met to discuss what one campaign group describes as a "growing crisis" in children's television.

Voice of the Listener & Viewer fears the impact BBC cuts could have on the back of ITV's decision to stop commissioning new shows for children.

It calls this a "double blow" which could have "a devastating effect".

Last month media regulator Ofcom called for a national debate about the amount of UK-made children's TV screened here.

In a report, Ofcom said parents were understandably concerned about the decline in UK-made programmes in favour of cartoons and US imports.

We need to ensure that our services are cherished by children - that there are moments of delight, laughter and wonder
Richard Deverell
BBC Children's controller

It said investment by ITV1, GMTV, Channel 4 and Five had halved in real terms since 1998 and that the future provision of new UK-made children's programming, particularly drama and factual, from broadcasters other than the BBC looked "increasingly uncertain".

The Voice of the Listener & Viewer, which campaigns for quality broadcasting, said planned savings of 5% a year for six years in the BBC children's budget were "draconian" and a "betrayal of the public service ethos".

Exploitation

At the conference, former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan said children were being "exploited".

He said: "There's been a lot of bad press recently with phone-ins etc about how the TV industry has been exploiting young people.

"Though there are barriers, young people do get exploited and there are things we have to be careful about."

The BBC was fined 50,000 in July after Blue Peter passed off a stand-in as a contest winner.

Then in September hosts of Blue Peter apologised to viewers on air about the rigging of a poll to name the show's cat.

More repeats

Richard Deverell, controller of BBC Children's - which will lose one in five jobs under BBC cost-cutting measures - said there would be "challenging times" ahead.

"We need to ensure that our services are cherished by children - that there are moments of delight, laughter and wonder.

"I have absolute confidence we can continue to do all of those things," he told the conference.

He added that he hopes to extend broadcast hours on digital channel CBBC by two hours to 2100 - filling the additional time with repeats "but children will still love it".

He said the first series of drama Tracy Beaker had been shown 84 times but remained one of the channel's most popular programmes.



SEE ALSO
Warning of children's TV 'crisis'
25 Jul 07 |  Entertainment
ITV stars attack programme cuts
31 Aug 06 |  Entertainment

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