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Moving North will change the face of BBC’s kids programming, boss says

UK public broadcaster the BBC moving its children’s TV output out of London will impact the way that it commissions and buys content and change the entire outlook of the kids division, its boss Joe Godwin said yesterday.

“There are a lot of indies in the north west and reach and proximity to commissioners is a help and is important,” BBC Children’s director Joe Godwin told The Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield, UK. “The balance of what we commission will shift.”

The kids broadcaster, which operates two dedicated channels, CBeebies and CBBC and spends more on original kids programming than any other broadcaster in the UK, is keen to do more factual and drama, Godwin said. It is looking to have shorter runs in both cases, with a view to unearthing the next big hit.

Godwin sought to assure producers concerned over the BBC’s investment in kids shows and said it will continue to fully fund some projects, but would also look to a coproduction model in order to be involved with a larger number of projects.

“We will still fully fund a lot of things – things that only we would do will be fully funded,” he said. “Splatalot was a copro with ABC (Australia) and YTV (Canada) and looked very much like a CBBC programme – by not fully funding it we freed up money to spend on things that other people don’t want to coproduce.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Godwin also said he didn’t think the ongoing campaign to have tax credits introduced for UK-originated kids content would be successful. “I agree with David Puttnam that that won’t happen at the moment, being realistic,” he said.

Talking specifically about Children’s BBC move from Television Centre in west London to Salford in the North of England, Godwin said: “It’s not easy, it’s a major wrench in people’s lives. Once we get there and people get their heads around it, it will be a better place for children’s BBC.”