U.K. Government Reveals £60 Million Kids’ TV Fund


Details have been unveiled for a new £60 million ($78 million) initiative that aims to find “the next big thing” in U.K. children’s television.

The Contestable Fund, which was first introduced late last year, strives to stop the decline of U.K.-produced kids’ programming and the trend of airing repeats. It will see £57 million invested in a Young Audiences Content Fund—which will be administered by the British Film Institute (BFI)—to support new creative and distinctive content that represents U.K. children and teens today.

There will also be more support for programming in indigenous U.K. languages such as Welsh and Gaelic, a multi-million-pound boost for commercial radio, and a special fund to help new production companies develop and pitch their original ideas. Additional details will be published by the fund administrators next year. The pilot will then be open for applications in April 2019.

Minister for Digital Margot James remarked: “Young people in the U.K. deserve high-quality content that entertains, informs and reflects their experiences growing up across the country today. The U.K. broadcasting and production sectors are world-renowned, and a success story to be proud of. This innovative project is an instrumental part of our support for the U.K.’s vibrant media sector and will help it continue to go from strength to strength.”

Ben Roberts, director of the Lottery Film Fund at BFI, noted: “We’re excited to be working with government to deliver the new Young Audiences Content Fund to help support U.K. companies to create exciting and distinctive new programs for young people. It goes hand-in-hand with the BFI’s own mission to connect audiences with the widest possible range of content. We look forward to making the most of this new opportunity to back talent to create bold and original programming and expand the choices available for young people.”

John McVay OBE, chief executive of Pact, said: “Pact welcomes the Contestable Fund pilot and is pleased that the government has listened to industry feedback to help shape the fund. Pact championed the need for development funding and the focus on children’s content and is pleased this has been recognized. This will help bring new voices into the industry and people’s lives.”

Children’s Media Foundation Chair Anna Home commented: “What we need from the fund is a rich mix of content which mirrors the programming lost over the last ten years. Experimentation should go hand-in-hand with tried-and-tested genres such as drama, which will attract a broad audience. New talent should be given opportunities while trusted practitioners should also be providing content, reflecting the hugely respected skills in children’s production in the U.K.”

Greg Childs, director of the Children’s Media Foundation, added: “Funding development makes sense as it allows producers to build content propositions that will be more attractive to broadcasters who can then confidently inject the match-funding needed to complete the project. It’s also a great opportunity to stimulate risk-taking and innovation.”