Britain's youth culture is being shaped by American tech giants like Facebook and Netflix. This is according to a warning issued by BBC as it announces a major investment in children's television.
The global media giant has confirmed that it will invest £34 million in expanding digital programming for children, as it attempts to win their attention in a changing online world.
Lord Hall, the director-general, is expected to give a speech to staff, in which he will spell out how the BBC must reinvent its offering to its youngest audience in the coming years, moving beyond television programs to become a serious rival to global media giants.
BBC’s first Annual Plan, which has been released today, sets out the corporation’s ambitions for the coming year, Lord Hall and chairman Sir David Clementi will announce the biggest investment in children’s services in a generation.
The changing ways in which young people choose their media has caused serious concerns for broadcasters, as they increasingly move away from television to online-only. The next three years will see BBC invest £34m in an enhanced online offer for children to ensure they absorb British shows reflecting their own lives at home as well as American shows, celebrities, and YouTube stars.
Lord Hall will single out children’s programming as a vital area for the future of the BBC, in an era where young people’s viewing habits are changing rapidly. The money will go to multimedia content including video, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, quizzes, guides, games, and apps.
This will give children a British alternative to Disney, Facebook, and YouTube. It will allow current shows to expand online, with possible projects including a Blue Peter app allowing young viewers to upload pictures of their own arts and crafts, or favorite television characters vlogging.
The investment will see the children’s budget reach £124.4 million by 2019/20, up from £110 million today and using the money saved from elsewhere in the corporation, the BBC said. A quarter of the total sum will be spent online.
Campaigners have consistently argued for more attention to be paid to children’s television in the UK, amid fears too many programs are simply imported from the US.