Government cuts to the Young Audience Content Fund have been dubbed “petty and illogical” by children’s TV campaigners, with some commissions likely to be scrapped.
In its third and final year, the total allocation to the YACF has been slashed by almost a quarter, from £57m to £44m, with the remaining £13m diverted to broadband rollout.
The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF) is urging the government to extend the scheme for a fourth year with full funding, arguing that it can provide a foundation for “more radical approaches to competitive public service content going forward”.
It has invited culture secretary Oliver Dowden to “defend this short-sighted decision in front of the entire industry” at this year’s Children’s Media Conference, which takes place in July.
In a statement, the CMF said the cut “shows scant regard for the vital role the YACF has played in rejuvenating the children’s production sector, providing much needed UK-cultural content on platforms other than the BBC and expanding the range of programmes available to young people. Once again children are served up ‘reduced portions’.”
CMF chair Anna Home added: “Cutting back something perceived to be a potential success before the completion of the pilot makes no sense. The 25% reduction seems petty-minded and illogical.”
Described by one producer as “a lifeline”, the YACF is intended to prop up commercial children’s TV sector by contributing up to 50% of production costs of shows commissioned by free-to-access broadcasters. Since its launch in 2019, it has funded 42 productions, spending around £27m.
The fund is administered by the BFI and has supported shows for Channel 5’s Milkshake! pre-school strand such as The World According to Grandpa (Saffron Cherry Productions) and Milo (Fourth Wall Animation); CITV animated sitcom Lloyd of the Flies (Aardman); E4’s Letters in Lockdown (Afro Mic); and Channel 4’s adaptation of YouTube show Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared (Blink Industries).