BBC children's programmes 'should be on after seven'

CBBC presenters next to the CBBC logo The last review of children's programming was in 2009

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The BBC should consider showing children's TV programmes after 19:00, a report by the BBC Trust has said.

A review of CBBC and Cbeebies notes that "some 4.5 million 4-to-12 year olds" watch TV after 19:00, the time at which the channels come off air.

Broadcasting shows aimed at older children on BBC One or BBC Two could "help extend" the "impact of high-quality programmes", it said.

Overall, the report found that CBBC and CBeebies were "performing well".

Both channels are "much-loved" by children and parents, the trust said, although they must maintain reach and impact and keep up with children's consumption of media.

The report also looked at the BBC's radio and online content for children.

More than 8,000 6-to-12 year olds sent their views to the BBC Trust. along with 2,700 parents or carers.

CBeebies was praised by parents for its "high-quality content and its focus on learning and development" while CBBC was hailed for its "distinctive content and the balance it provides between education and entertainment".

Woolfblood Wolfblood has been a successful crossover show from CBBC to BBC Three

The review also found older children were less inclined to watch CBBC or CBeebies, and that CBBC struggled to inherit younger viewers moving on from CBeebies. This was also the finding of the previous review into children's services in 2009.

The trust said it supported the BBC's plans to address these concerns by "commissioning more content for older children" and with both channels working together to "provide a more joined-up offer".

But it also noted that "older children might be more attracted to watching CBBC's older-skewing content if it were shown on other BBC channels".

The websites for CBBC and CBeebies regularly score highest on quality out of all of the BBC's online offerings and the CBBC website has "improved" since the Trust's 2009 recommendation that its declining usage levels should be addressed.

But the 2013 report raised some concerns about the online content falling behind children's consumption habits, with more youngsters keen to access content on-demand, on tablets and other mobile devices.

Trustees welcomed the BBC's plans to address these issues, including the recent launch of the CBeebies Playtime app.

BBC Trustee Alison Hastings said: "We heard an overwhelming amount of praise for the BBC's children's services, both from their young audiences and from adults, and it's clear that CBeebies and CBBC have earned their place at the heart of many families' viewing habits."

Expectation of progress

She said the challenge for the corporation was to "keep pace with change", providing programmes, information, apps and other content "when and where children want and expect it".

Ms Hastings added the Trust expected to "see progress being made" in the coming months.

The Trust's findings for radio output stated it "supports the current scope of the BBC's provision for children" through a daily programme on Radio 4 Extra, and CBeebies Radio via the CBeebies website.

However it did ask the BBC to find more ways to promote these services and to provide an update on this within six months. It also said it would like to see children considered as an audience for mainstream output across other BBC services, such as the recent broadcast of CBBC's Wolfblood on BBC Three.

The BBC said it had already put plans in place to address the issues and the Trust has asked for regular updates on its progress.

"We're really pleased the BBC Trust has concluded that our children's services are performing well and making a strong contribution to the BBC's public purposes.

The press office said: "CBeebies and CBBC remain the most-watched children's channels in the UK and the Trust's consultation confirms how loved and valued our TV, web and radio services are by children and parents alike.

"We are very aware of the challenges ahead and we'll be working with colleagues across the BBC and the Trust to address them."

The report was carried out as part of the BBC Trust's remit to review BBC services at least once every five years.

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