Ofcom backs BBC plans to move more children's news content online
Ofcom has said it plans to accept the BBC’s proposals to move more of its children’s content online, in an attempt by the corporation to halt declining viewing numbers among young people.
The broadcasting watchdog set out its “provisional views” on the BBC’s request to change its Operating Licence in a document titled BBC Children’s news and first-run UK originations.
The BBC hopes to redirect money from its CBBC children’s news programme Newsround to the format’s website.
In its request, the BBC said “budgetary constraints” meant it did not have the “flexibility” to expand its online presence whilst maintaining its current TV news provision.
Instead, it argued it would have to reduce the amount of children’s news it broadcasts on TV.
The proposed change would mean the BBC would be able to reduce the amount of news on CBBC from 85 hours to 35 hours a year.
It would also allow CBBC to show news once each day rather than throughout the day.
According to the Ofcom report, CBeebies and CBBC have seen viewing figures fall sharply, with CBeebies now reaching only a third of its target audience, and CBBC only around one in six.
Ofcom also warned of the increasing popularity of video-on-demand service such as Netflix and YouTube, and children’s growing use of the internet.
Whilst it said it intended to green light the move, Ofcom said it would only accept the changes if the BBC agreed to certain additional safeguards to ensure the quality of children’s TV content.
It suggested the adoption of a new performance metric to measure how successful the BBC’s children’s news content is, featuring measures such as availability and impact.
Ofcom plans to publish a statement on the decision in early 2020.