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FUNDING UK

The British Film Institute launches its new Young Audiences Content Fund

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- The £57 million government fund aims to revive the children's television industry and halt its recent decline

The British Film Institute launches its new Young Audiences Content Fund
Former BBC executive Jackie Edwards, who has been appointed as the head of the Young Audiences Content Fund

Yesterday, the British Film Institute finally launched its government fund for new TV programming aimed at young audiences. This is the first initiative of its kind to uniquely focus on audiovisual content for young people under the age of 18. The fund, officially called the Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF), has been created in response to a recent decline in children’s television output from public broadcasters recorded in the UK since the mid-2000s.

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Former BBC executive Jackie Edwards has been appointed as the head of the fund. Other important decision-makers at the helm of the YACF will be production executive John Knowles (veteran producer from CBBC), development executive Harriet Williams (a former member of Disney Channel EMEA’s programming team), project manager Gill Biddle (a producer on titles for the BBC, ITV, the Smithsonian Channel and National Geographic) and business affairs executive Hesham Sabry (previously on the BBC’s commercial management team).

The main objectives of the YACF are to attract new investors and to stimulate greater variety in a market dominated by the BBC as the main producer and buyer of children’s content in the UK. In 2016, for instance, 87% of all first-run British children’s programming was produced by the national public broadcaster. Alongside the YACF, a new £3 million fund dedicated to public-service audio content on commercial radio for all ages has been established; both initiatives will attempt to provide a boost to Welsh- and Gaelic-language productions by earmarking 5% of their totals for this purpose.

Margot James, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, welcomed the creation of the fund and said: “Young people in the UK deserve high-quality content that entertains, informs and reflects their experiences growing up across the country today. The UK’s broadcast sectors reach hundreds of millions of people of all ages around the globe and are a tremendous success story that we are justifiably proud of. This innovative project is an integral part of our ongoing support for the UK’s vibrant media sector, which we want to see go from strength to strength.”

Jackie Edwards, head of the YACF, added: “It is such a thrill to throw the fund doors open, and a privilege to help support the development and production of brilliant, innovative television programmes that uniquely reflect the lives of children across the UK.”

YACF-supported content will be awarded up to 50% of its production budget. Projects must have secured a broadcast commitment from a free-to-access, Ofcom-regulated service with significant British audience reach. Supporting evidence of said commitment, along with a budget and finance plan, are required in order to apply. For further information, please read the funding guidelines here.

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