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BBC iPlay ‘could boost UK kids sector’

Kids-logo-460_2An ‘iPlay’ digital platform, which would see the BBC and outside partners establish an online platform for kids, could boost investment in the declining UK kids production sector, according to new research.

The Communications and Media Research Institute’s ‘Policy Solutions and International Perspectives on the Funding of Public Service Media Content for Children’ report examines in detail funding for public service children’s content.

As part of the study, it covers the BBC’s mooted iPlay service, which would see the UK pubcaster cooperate with unnamed partners on a platform that would provide digital content for kids.

“As an on-demand portal it could become a catalyst for investment in high quality distinctive content that goes beyond television, allowing children to discover high quality curated material from different content providers in a safe trusted online space,” the report said.

Given the requirement that any content be free at the point of delivery, how any digital service would be promoted and curated, and which partners will come into play are key questions.

In principle, however, an iPlay service could be an important test bed for digital content, the report found.

“Just as CBeebies and CBBC were important public service additions to multichannel offerings in 2002, the BBC’s proposal for iPlay, could serve as an advertising free space to test the crossover between TV, games and other digital content,” it said.

The UK-originated kids TV production sector has suffered after the 2003 removal of quotas and the 2006 junk food advertising ban on the commercial nets. Reaffirming the findings of several industry groups, the report noted a 95% decrease in first run UK-originated kids fare between 2003 and 2014.

“The production of children’s television content in the UK has declined inexorably over the last decade.”