The UK media regulator has opened a new consultation into the number of CBBC’s original productions, accepting the BBC’s request to make cuts to its output.
In an announcement this morning, Ofcom agreed with BBC’s suggestion to reduce the original productions quota for the dedicated TV channel for children, shifting it from 72 per cent of all hours to 66 per cent for 2022 and 2023. This would then shift to 68 per cent for 2024 and beyond.
The decision comes alongside the huge growth in the choice for consumers, as well as developments in technology and significant shifts in audience behaviour.
“The need to evolve is particularly acute in the children’s sector, where there have been fundamental shifts in viewing habits”, Ofcom said in its consultation announcement.
As part of its plans to strengthen the appeal of CBBC, the BBC is seeking to invest in more UK animations and planning a small increase to acquisitions. This will impact its Operating Licence and the BBC is seeking a change to the original productions quota on CBBC.
In terms of the new programmes the BBC produce every year, there is no current proposal to reduce this number or spend on CBBC programmes. The reduction will be made purely in terms of the number of hours of original productions that are broadcasted.
However, a crucial backdrop to this move is the ongoing question marks about the future of the BBC with a limited, and perhaps eventually non-existent, licence fee.
At the start of this year the government announced it would be freezing the £159 licence fee for two years, with its existence guaranteed until at least 31 December 2027 under the broadcaster’s royal charter.
Not only did the BBC call this decision “disappointing”, but it also warned that the freeze will “necessitate tougher choices” moving forward.
The fee currently makes up almost three-quarters of the broadcaster’s funding, including all BBC services, like iPlayer, TV, websites and radio.