Separating fact from fiction – Media hype of CBeebies

Any parent who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last week will know that there is a petition doing the rounds to save CBeebies.

This petition was set up with the notion that CBeebies was under threat of being cancelled as the BBC need to make vital cuts in the coming years and a rumour had started from somewhere that CBeebies was due to be chopped.

But… it’s all fiction. CBeebies is not under threat of being cut – at least not just yet. In truth, the BBC are actually further developing their resources for children by creating what will be called ‘iPlay’, which will be a digital hub for children to access programmes that are deemed ‘safe’ for them to watch -including the likes of bake off and strictly come dancing.

In an official blog from the BBC, director of BBC Children’s writes: “As long as kids and parents continue to watch our output on our TV channels, we’ll continue to put our programmes there. CBBC and CBeebies are the most-loved channels in the UK for their target age groups and we’re incredibly proud of that.”

Swept away with media hype

Even though the official blog post about it not being dropped (although not in these exact words) was announced on 9 September, newspapers such as the Independent wrote about the Save the CBeebies TV Channel on 11 September.

In the Independent, they wrote about the statement by Mr Hall, BBC Director General, who said “The BBC faces a very tough financial challenge. We will inevitably have to close or reduce some services.”

Other statements also include examples of services that may be cut – including CBeebies – but this was simply an example of some of the services they provide rather than a statement to say that they were considering cutting it.

As major newspapers and local newspapers continue to report on the wave of distraught parents who are signing the petition, nobody seems to be referring to the official documents to find the truth.

This has resulted in hundreds and thousands of parents sharing the story on social media channels – including me, who thought that there was some truth behind it.

It’s easy to get swept away with the hubbub rather than looking to see whether it’s true… as if a newspaper writes about it, surely it’s true?

Unfortunately not, so I’ve done the job for them to give you the facts behind what is happening.

Future of the BBC report – what it means for CBeebies

I have read the future of the BBC report, at least in part, to see what they say about the future of CBeebies and CBBC and it’s quite clear that there is no way that they would cut services for children.

CBeebies graphs taken from future of the BBC reportThese graphs have been taken from the Future of the BBC report, page 28.

The top graph shows the amount that the BBC committed to spending on children’s television in 2014 as compared to non-BBC for the UK. As you can see… they are the biggest contributor by a long shot to British children’s television.

Cutting these services would simply be like cutting off a limb for parents and they know it.

They also state that CBeebies reaches 45% of under 6’s which is phenomenal and a definite achievement – definitely no cause to remove the channel.

They also show a graph of popularity of different television channels for 6-12 year olds yr on yr, with CBBC remaining a firm favourite, but declining.

For anyone who can read a graph or has to forecast trends for their day job, you can see that if they do nothing, then their popularity will continue to decrease for this demographic. The first step is to determine why there is a drop to be able to change it and so they’ve identified the problem as a change in the way that children are accessing media.

With the likes of Netflix and other on demand services, it’s becoming increasingly easy for parents who have demanding children who want to watch Peppa Pig NOW… when it’s scheduled for 3 hours time on the telly to simply find it either on iPlayer or other services and restore peace and quiet to the household.

TV is evolving and so is CBeebies

For those with a finger on the pulse on trends, you’ll know that the way we watch TV is changing. It started with recordable services such as TiVo and Sky+ and has evolved with the creation of Netflix and Amazon Instant Video and smart TVs.

We’re in a generation of ‘need it now’, where scheduled TV is fast becoming old hat. If you look at the developmental pipeline for the likes of Sky, you’ll see that they have big plans for orchestrating the change over to the way we watch TV to mirror (and indeed compete with) the likes of Netflix but taking it a step further. Bets are on that Sky’s version will be released before Christmas!

This change shouldn’t come as a shock and so broadcasters have to take a long look at where TV is going and how they can evolve with the times. Hence the BBC’s future report to tell everyone where they are going.

For CBeebies, this change in the way we access programmes means that they are developing a new hub called iPlay, which is going to bring together appropriate programmes under one safe environment.

It doesn’t mean that the BBC are going to pull CBeebies from under our feet, but more that they are filling a gap in providing content online in a way that our changing tastes dictate.

If in a few years time once iPlay gets off the ground and we’re all accessing content that way they find that nobody is watching the CBeebies channel anymore, then it would make sense for them to take it off air. But as they said… as long as people are still watching, they’ll still keep broadcasting.

Change may seem scary, but if we think to our own lifetimes, each technological advance has always had a taste of “Oh it’ll never catch on” with the vast majority being successful… tapes to CDs, CDs to MP3 players to now having everything on your phone.

So they can’t say that they’ll never take away CBeebies… that would be a silly statement to make as we just don’t know what the future holds, but we can trust in the fact that the BBC are dedicated to providing educational content for our children in a way that we want it!

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5 Comments

  1. An imperfect Mum (@animperfectmum)
    September 15, 2015 / 8:27 am

    Really informative article and it makes total sense for the BBC to be updating its services in line with technological change and customer desires. CBeebies is a great service but I did find it annoying that the content was repeated during the day. Having the ability to select your favourite shows would make more sense. A great post! #twinkytuesday

  2. Sarah HP
    September 15, 2015 / 10:53 am

    Thank you for finding the facts. When I saw the stories on social media I thought it didn’t sound quite right. I know it is a very popular channel and the shows are usually the among the most watched on iPlayer plus the BBC has an education as part of it’s remit. I did a quick google and just got the Independent story (which seemed wording in a slightly suspicious way) and couldn’t find anything official via a very quick look at the BBC website. It was nagging me that there must be some proper facts behind the headlines (if only I had time to find them!)

  3. Becky (@attwtwo)
    September 15, 2015 / 11:32 am

    45% of under 6’s – that’s crazy! Quite a feat which they’d be mad to ignore (which, of course, they are not ignoring – thanks for the facts). I am seeing the evolution of CBeebies actually like you point out – I can see how programmes are becoming more and more mindful about not just entertaining but educating our children and I think this is especially true of CBeebies – most of the programmes teach morals, songs, rhymes, counting, reading, drawing, creativity. Thanks for putting it all out there nice and concisely and if I see anyone else share that blooming petition on FB I’ll be sending them a link to this post 🙂 #twinklytuesday

  4. bettyandthebumps
    September 15, 2015 / 2:42 pm

    I saw the petition on Facebook so I went to the BBC News website first to see what it was all about. I think – like you’ve said in your post – it’s easy to take something out of context and to buy it wholesale. x

    #twinklytuesday

  5. Lisa Cornwell (@mummascribbles)
    September 18, 2015 / 10:49 pm

    Great post and so informative. I think one of the real issues for me was the thought off it going online and my child having to sit at computer to watch it! But I am assuming the online version would be like the iPlayer in which the television can still be used! Thanks for sharing and Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

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