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27/10/2004

More NI kids programmes needed by BBC

More resources should be made available by the BBC to Northern Ireland production companies to make children’s programmes, a University of Ulster academic has urged.
Professor Máire Messenger Davies, who conducted a review of the Corporation’s digital channels for children - CBeebies and CBBC - for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, said one of the requirements of the channels was that “a proportion of programme production must be allocated to companies based outside London”.
This provision was followed in the case of BBC Scotland “which is a significant provider of new programming” with around 30% of spend allocated to the region for innovative pre-school children’s programmes such as ‘Balamory’ and ‘Zingalong’.
However, Professor Messenger Davies, Director of UU’s Centre for Media Research, added: “Northern Ireland and Wales do not appear to be equally represented in production resources.”
The review, part of a wider probe into the BBC’s digital television output, conducted for the DCMS by Professor Patrick Barwise of the London Business School, generally found that the children’s channels followed their remit and were of consistent high quality.
However, she noted that the Northern Ireland children she interviewed were disappointed that the TV shows they most enjoyed, rarely - if ever - included the province in their listings of things to do.
She also recommended that the BBC should consider a CBBC ‘Gold' channel, where high quality archive material such as dramas could be shown again.
She noted too that archive programmes funded by the licence fee should be freely accessible to the public who paid for them.
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