When I got a letter yesterday on House of Commons headed notepaper, my heart was in my mouth. Was this some kind of summons to go up to London to be put in the stocks?? And for what??? Cripes!
But no. It would seem my recent email imploring my local MP, Tobias Ellwood to save UK Kids' TV actually got through and has been noted:
Thank you for your email dated 11th April about public service broadcasting for children.
I understand your concern about the lack of high quality, UK-produced children's content on television. British-made children's programmes have widely been acknowledged as amongst the best in the world for quality and variety, and I am aware that many people are worried that this success is now under threat. I believe that home-grown children's programming can be extremely beneficial in both edication and informing young children about British culture and society.
I share your concern that several of the leading broadcasters are now reducing their budget for children's content. If commercial channels such as ITV decide that it is financially unviable to keep original children's programming, I am concerned that children will be forced to watch cheaper imports and repeats.
My colleagues at the Shadow Culture, Media and Sport team are currently looking at this issue as part of a wider examination of the challenges facing public service broadcasting. As you are aware, Jeremy Hunt, the Shadow Culture Secretary, recently published a discussion paper on the future of Public Service Broadcasting, stressubg the need for broadcasters to take their social responsibility seriously and recognise the impact their programmes can have.
One key area of discussion was how to maintain the plurality of public service broadcasting and ensure that high quality programmes that appeal to all ages continue to be made. My colleagues put forward a number of options for consideration which included allowing organisations to bid for a small percentage of the licence fee to provide content in specific areas where plurality of provision is lacking, such as children's daytime television. We believe that this may be a sensible way forward of ensuring that young people are able to watch home-made, high quality, original programming. The independent media regulator Ofcom published similar proposals shortly afterwards and are now currently consulting on these proposals. When the results are published this autumn and we examine the results I will give all issues due consideration and will consider signing EDM 585.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to write to me.
So, some good news there: this important issue does actually appear to be taken seriously, at least by one MP anyway. And maybe he sends the same letter out to everyone - but he's ssending out letters and showing us he's listening, that's the main thing. Besides, which, my MP is not necessarily your MP, so make sure YOURS is listening too!
So add YOUR voice to this campaign, you can do so by the mere click of a button:
The more voices there are behind this campaign, the more likely it is children's programming will come home to roost and the less likely our kids will start talking like the cast of Friends. Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against Americans, but we're British. Let's recognise that.