For the first time in several years, the world of children’s media have things to celebrate this Christmas.
– The Animation and Games tax relief which will help our production sector compete with the rest of the world and ensure more home grown content for our children.
– Ofcom and the ASA’s swift implementation of the Bailey review’s recommendations, which will help put the brakes on the sexualisation and commercialisation of our children
– www.parentport.org.uk, which offers parents one-stop access to all the UK’s media regulators.
However, there are still many challenges in 2013, especially for Children’s theatre, fine arts, music and dance which have been endangered by changes in Education and cuts to public arts funding.
So whether you and your family settle down to watch the BBC’s Christmas Doctor Who, or C4’s The Snowman and The Snowdog, or watch a performance of The Nutcracker, or your local pantomime, please remember that Children’s Arts and Media are not just for Christmas….
With all good wishes for a peaceful and prosperous New Year,
Three great meetings, one excellent film, several new lovely people and one brilliant cross cultural moment…
Firstly thank you to the Children’s Media Conference and UKTI for inviting me to meet with the China Animation Association Delegation. It was good to learn about the Chinese animation industry, meet some of its key players and begin to explore ways that we can work together in the future. I was particularly touched when the Ordos Dongsheng Skywind Animation Film Co., Ltd gave me The Big Horn, the delightful character from the Go Calf! animation series. I thought we were just going to have our photos taken together so it was a lovely surprise when I came away from the morning with The Big Horn under my arm.
And so onto the Annual General Meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children’s Media and the Arts. I added The Big Horn to the guest list. He was particularly impressed by the Grand Committee Room. So was I.
I was even more impressed by the meeting though. With Baroness Floella Benjamin re-elected as chair, and MPs Tom Watson and Damian Hinds as vice chairs, the meeting got down to the real business: reviewing the Bailey Review. One year after Reg Bailey’s report on the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood “Letting Children Be Children” was published, we were able to bring together the regulators, broadcasters and other stake holders to discuss how they had implemented Reg’s recommendations and consider the successes and challenges. I remember when I read the report being somewhat cynical that any of the recommendations would be seriously followed through – it’s easy to pay lip service and equally easy to come up with excuses when nothing is done. But hats off to Ofcom, the Advertising Standards Authority, ITV, UKCISS and others as well for the changes that have been made – making it easier for parents to voice their concerns on www.parentport.org.uk, removing innappropriate advertising from inappropriate places to name the obvious. Good job to everyone who has signed up to better self regulation and the general good will and desire to protect young people from inappropriate… stuff. I’m generalising as I need to write a more detailed report for the parliamentarians that were unable to attend. I will also post something on the Children’s Media Foundation website. AND Reg Bailey will be speaking at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield at the beginning of July. Besides, I’d rather post more photos of my day with The Big Horn.
I said Three Meetings… The third was the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain’s Children’s Committee. We met at BAFTA to discuss… things. Things to do with those that write for children. Things like contractual issues, intellectual property, the BFI plans for UK film, e-publishing: things like that. I think all of us on the committee would rather spend our time messing about with The Big Horn but we have to support ourselves if we are to provide good quality content for young people.
The film? Jeff Who Lives At Home. Loved it. So did The Big Horn although he did have to ask me what a bong was.
So a busy day. Oh what was the brilliant cross-cultural moment? I’m sure you’ll have guessed that during the Chinese Delegation meeting there was a certain amount of stifled tittering amongst the British participants every time The Big Horn was mentioned: nobody dared to catch anyone else’s eye and there was much chewing of lips, especially when the Chinese-English translator talked about the “happy growth of the Big Horn”. Then when one of the English contingent began to speak, I saw a pair of Chinese shoulders begin to heave, I saw others stifling their titters, desperately not looking at each others, chewing their lips. I can only imagine what the translation was and hope it gave my new friends as much pleasure as The Big Horn gave me.