New original programming quota introduced for CBeebies

Octonaut characters The Octonauts is a co-production based on the books by Meomi

There is likely to be more Octonauts on CBeebies after a change in how many acquisitions can be shown on the pre-school channel.

The change - approved by Ofcom on Thursday - means that CBeebies' quota to show original programming (anything fully funded by the BBC) will drop from 80% to 70%, with the remaining 30% made up of acquisitions or co-productions.

The new quota will give the channel more flexibility to broadcast popular shows such as Mike the Knight and Postman Pat instead of airing older episodes of Teletubbies, one of the BBC's fully funded originations.

Joe Godwin, director of Children's, says the change was 'good for children, good for licence-fee payers and good for the UK animation industry'.

In a blog post, Godwin explains that the majority of 'acquisitions' are not expensive off-the-shelf imports but programmes that the BBC pre-buys.

As part of these deals, the director says, the BBC will invest financially and exercise some editorial control over how the show gets shaped before a single frame is shot.

All of the acquired programmes on CBeebies are animations, which are expensive to make and are often part funded by different broadcasters or through international co-operation.

Godwin argues that the new quotas will give 'a much-needed boost to the UK animation industry' because the 'vast majority' of CBeebies acquisitions are produced and animated in the UK.

Not about budgets

He also promises that the change in quota won't affect how many original programmes are made or what is spent on them.

'This is not about spending less. Our budgets for CBeebies will not change as a result of this. It's just about making better use of new programmes and being less reliant on some older ones,' Godwin writes.

He adds: 'The BBC is committed to the provision of high-quality children's content, and has a duty to encourage UK production. Today's decision by Ofcom will help us do that even more.'

As a result of the decision, the BBC Trust has reissued the CBeebies service licence, adding a requirement that the majority of acquired programming must be developed for a UK audience.


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