Tax breaks needed for kids' TV

BBC Vision director proposes help for UK's struggling children's TV sector.
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The director of BBC Vision has proposed a number of ideas to help the children's TV sector in the UK.

According to Media Guardian.co.uk, Jana Bennett was speaking at the youth film festival Showcommotion in Sheffield. She floated three ideas, including the introduction of film production style tax breaks to help the sector, which she described as needing "significant intervention" to avoid the current "crisis".

In addition to the tax breaks for children's TV production, Bennett asked whether all public service broadcasters should be forced to commit to children's production. Her third idea was for all UK children's TV broadcasters - including subscription channels like Nickelodeon, Disney and Cartoon Network - to be required to support original UK production, through a levy on profits or a commitment to transmitting a minimum number of hours input.

However, Media Guardian went on to say that she ruled out using BBC licence fee money to fund commercial producers of children's television, insisting it "wouldn't help the sector as a whole".

Bennett's ideas are not official BBC policy, but she said that: "Any of these would represent quite a significant intervention in the market. But maybe that's what it will take to resolve the crisis."

The state of children's TV production was highlighted by the publication of the preliminary findings of an Ofcom review into children's programming. This showed that spending on first-run UK-originated kids programming fell by about a third between 2002 and 2006.

The findings also showed that the cost per hour of children's programming among public service broadcasters - the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five - has fallen from £85,000 in 1998 to £56,800 in 2006.

Ofcom will publish its full review into children's programming later this summer and will assess policy options in the autumn.

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