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EXCLUSIVE | Channel 7 axes kids programs

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Staff working on two local children’s shows were told their services would no longer be required today as production came to an unexpected end.

The Seven network has decided not to renew Get Clever and Get Arty. TV Blackbox understands production has been accelerated to complete the current run of episodes, although none are currently scheduled in released TV guides.

A spokesperson told us the network was still on track to meet its children’s television quota, despite the decision not to renew these two shows.

Get Arty was airing 7.30am Monday to Friday on 7TWO but is not listed as airing next week.

According to the description on the 7PLUS website;

Get Clever is a new children’s science and maths TV program that presents ways for kids to understand, explore and utilize the fundamental principles of science and mathematics in an entertaining way!

and;

Get Arty is a showcase of amazing arty projects! From their sketchpads, to your home – get all the tips you need to make some beautiful, messy, fun, tasty, weird, and even exploding art.

Just this week Seven announced it would be making an additional $20 million worth of cost cuts after the company posted a $67 million loss for the December half. This is the first indication of where some of those cuts will come from.

Meanwhile, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and Screen Australia are set to release their response to the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry at the end of February. Part of that report will outline recommendations for local children’s TV content quotas.

Currently television broadcasters in Australia are required to air 390 hours of P and C rated material with at least 130 hours being first-release children’s content.

In 2017 representatives of each network appeared in a parliament inquiry into the sustainability of the film and television industry.

According to a report by the SMH 10 CEO Paul Anderson;

urged the committee to recommend the government “abolish children’s and pre-school quotas”, which he described as “heavy and restrictive” and “no longer sustainable”.

With the report due to be released at the end of February, today’s developments could be an indication the networks have got their way and children’s content quotas are set to be scrapped, or at least dramatically reduced.


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Robert McKnighthttps://tvblackbox.com.au/robert-mcknight/
"Leading TV commentator" - The Daily Telegraph | "Known for his impeccable sources in the TV industry" - The Daily Mail | "Always first with the correct info" - Beau Ryan | Robert McKnight is a highly regarded Australian Television Producer having worked at SEVEN, NINE and TEN during his 25 years in the industry. Publicly he is most well-known for creating and producing STUDIO 10 but has worked on SUNRISE, THE MORNING SHOW plus other prime time productions in addition to creating award-winning news campaigns for both 7NEWS and 9NEWS. Currently, Rob is the host and producer of the TV BLACKBOX, MCKNIGHT TONIGHT and MONSTERS WHO MURDER podcast, and executive producer of AFTERNOONS WITH SOFIE FORMICA on radio station 4BC
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Comments

  1. First, this has nothing to do with the presenters of childrens’ programming on the commercial networks.

    Rather it is quality of the programs that appear to be under par. Why I say under par, is that improvement in quality is possible. Today’s children’s programming lacks the imagination and fantasy compared to the 1960s and 1970s.

    Yes these programs do cost money but it may attract more viewers.

    For example, in the 1960s and 1970s there was the “Magic Circle Club” (ATV0) and its successor “Adventure Island (ABC). The programs were serialised over five days with the Friday edition concluding what was started on Monday.

    There was an effort in the quality of the sets and acting. The shows included elements of pantomime where some female roles were played by males, for example Mother Hubbard (Fred Tupper) and Mrs Flowerpots (Bryan Crossley).

    It is sad that these programs were not recorded in colour and that not all shows have survived. Though surviving shows are at the NFSA (our National Film and Sound Archive).

    On the other hand, pantomime/fantasy programs may not be the kind of program favoured by today’s children. Market research may well be needed to ascertain whether such a program would be welcome today.

    Then there were science-based shows such as "The Curiosity Show" (NWS9) and "The Professor And The Enquiring Minds" (ATN7) featuring Prof. Julius Sumner Miller. You could also count "Scope" (10 Peach) currently airing.

    Magazine-styled shows such as "Simon Townsend’s Wonder World" (formerly 0/10 Network, now Network 10) produced from 1979 to 1987 covered a diverse range of topics. In contrast "Totally Wild" (Network10) (1992 onwards) covers natural sciences, the environment. Unfortunately there aren’t shows such of a "Wonderworld" genre.

    Yet FTA broadcasters are facing financial constraints. TV revenues for commercial tv are declining as demonstrated by a 63% downturn at Channel 9:
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/nine-entertainment-plans-100m-in-cuts-as-free-to-air-struggles/news-story/668bc1be0df567ea8f8ea7962fe56daa (subscription needed)

    Commercial stations are being squeezed by the statutory requirement of a certain amount of hours to be dedicated to children’s programming. They’re being squeezed by the costs involved in production and the falling revenues. It results in many below-par children’s programs being made in order to satisfy the minimum statutory requirements.

    As a result it would be unlikely that there will be a return of the high production values involved in producing "The Magic Circle Club" on commercial FTA let alone the costs of producing "Adventure Island" on the ABC.

    Despite that, generally, a good source of childrens’ programming is ABC2 and ABCME. For example I learnt on a childrens’ program on ABCME about an artificial leaf being developed at Harvard which splits water into H2 and O2 using light. It wasn’t on ABC (main) "Catalyst" nor any other commercial FTA channel!

    The ABC too is facing constant campaigns for privatisation. Based on the recent story that No. 10 Downing St’s wishes to change the BBC to a subscription model,
    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-51530752 it may well inspire those to do that to our ABC.

    While there are financial constraints on the FTA, the ACMA should consider a policy through legislation to enforce streaming services such as Netflix to provide Australian children’s program.

    Australian FTA broadcasters are concerned that they are required to comply with statutory regulations regarding Australian content but online streaming video-on-demand services are not, https://mumbrella.com.au/australia-cant-afford-to-allow-digital-platforms-to-continue-their-monopoly-unchecked-media-businesses-respond-to-the-accc-digital-platform-inquiry-final-report-600490 .

    Why aren’t streaming services required to produce a certain amount of children’s programming even Australian-made content?

    It’s not just a case of keeping Australian film makers in a job, but the danger of Australia’s cultural/multicultural image not being reflected on our screens.

    Thank you,
    Anthony of exciting Belfield

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