Great news for the UK animation industry and kid’s TV content as a £60m Contestable Fund is announced. 2017 was a big year for children’s TV, and the relentless campaigning for better quality children’s media seems to be paying off at last.
Continued benefits from tax credits
The tax credits that Animation UK fought so hard for continue to bring in more inward investment, but with a decline in domestic spend animation production simply remained stable in 2017. With new players entering the market, and with the UK’s reputation for production stronger than ever around the world, we feel optimistic that we’ll see more gains this year.
New powers to OFCOM
I once promised John MacVay (Chief Executive of Pact) that I would eat my own hat if he could get the government to give OFCOM new powers to impose a remit on public service broadcasters (PSBs) to make more children’s content. So it was with mixed feelings I welcomed the news that a joint effort between Pact, Save Kids’ Content UK, supported by the passionate Floella Benjamin, had got this over the line.
Don’t be mistaken however, there is still a long way to go. Exactly how keen OFCOM will be to wield their new power, and how this will be applied is is yet to be seen. Nonetheless it’s exciting news and I hope to be eating my hat, baked in a humble pie at some point in 2018!
Animation UK first started its campaign for a Contestable Fund for children’s content in 2015, with an open letter to the then Secretary of State asking for money to use as a carrot to tempt ITV, C4 and others back in public service children’s programming. This letter leveraged a meeting, and from that meeting a campaign began that has got us to this point.
The campaign was far from straightforward - Pact and the BBC fought the idea of the fund vigorously on a number of fronts (see here for details), and the CMF objected to the fund because of unfounded fears of it being financed by top-slicing the BBC. Across the industry a group of us battled on regardless to get the right result, and much of what has been announced is exactly what Animation UK campaigned for, and supported with compelling evidence.
The devil will be in the detail, but any new money to help get a plurality of programming on PSBs is extremely welcome. This combination of investment (credits), stick (OFCOM powers) and carrot (contestable fund) is a great step forward to growing our industry again, and to providing future generations with the high quality PSB content they deserve. Changes like this are always hard to achieve, but we’re part of an industry worth fighting for, and will continue to do so.
By Oli Hyatt, Blue Zoo Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Animation UK