May 23, 2022
Ofcom has granted a request from the BBC to change the original productions requirement for CBBC in its Operating Licence.
Ofcom says that, as young viewers increasingly turn to online services, CBBC now reaches 14% of children aged 6-12 on TV each week, compared to 27% in 2015. In response to this rapid decline and to strengthen the appeal of CBBC, the BBC plans to invest in and show more UK animations and to modestly increase programme acquisitions. These plans require a change to its Operating Licence, for which the BBC made a request to Ofcom.
Ofcom explains that, currently, in each calendar year, 72% of all hours on CBBC need to be original productions. The BBC requested that this be changed to 66% in 2022 and 2023, and 68% for 2024 and onwards. The BBC’s requirement to deliver first-run original UK productions on CBBC is unaffected.
Ofcom says that, having carefully considered responses to its consultation, it is confirming its preliminary decision to grant the BBC’s request. In reaching this decision, Ofcom took considered the following factors:
- programme output cannot stay the same while audience habits change: the BBC has struggled to attract and retain younger audiences, which risks its ability to deliver on its Mission and Public Purposes; these risks are compounded by funding pressures and rising production costs affecting all UK public service broadcasters; the BBC needs to evolve and innovate to respond to these challenges, including by experimenting with different kinds of programming to reach and build better connections with younger audiences;
- the scale of the reduction in original productions and corresponding increase in acquisitions is small: the BBC will continue to be expected to deliver a quality, distinctive service with a range of content for young audiences; Ofcom considers that the modest change in quota is unlikely in itself to affect the quality and distinctiveness of CBBC, and that carefully chosen acquisitions can play an important part in making CBBC more appealing to audiences; and
- the BBC must be transparent about how it is delivering for younger audiences, and Ofcom will hold it to account: Ofcom says that it expects the BBC to publicly evaluate the success of changes to CBBC and continue to adapt as necessary; as part of its forthcoming consultation on the wider review of the BBC Operating Licence, Ofcom says that it will seek additional transparency from the BBC on how it is delivering its Mission and Public Purposes, including for younger audiences.
To read Ofcom’s Statement in full, click here.