Ruth Zanker moderated a session on kids` content with an interesting mix of panelists, the ABC`s soon-departing head of kids` content, Tim Brooke-Hunt; writer Briar Grace-Smith; former children`s commissioner Ian Hassall; and producer Yvonne Mackay. Zanker, Hassall and Mackay are all trustees of the New Zealand`s Childrens Screen Trust, which “seeks to enrich the lives of Zealand children by promoting diverse and accessible local content on all screens”.
“Other countries do it, we might not,” Zanker said, referring to the local production of children`s content for local kids.
Hassall came at the issue from a broader perspective, noting, “Children`s well being is political.”
Referencing NZ`s depressing statistics on issues of child welfare and youth suicide, he suggested that NZ needed to place children at the centre of society, “where they need to be, and where we need them to be.”
From the floor, NZ On Air`s Jane Wrightson suggested the local situation needed “a game changer”. It was reasonable to assume that government is unlikely to change what it does, either in the amount of money made available through agencies such as NZOA or the NZFC, or the limited amount of regulation around TV.
In the 2012 financial year, NZOA spent $13.8 million of its $82.5 million national TV expenditure on kids` programming.
Labour MP Jacinda Ahern, attending as Spokesperson for Social Development and Children, rather hoped the game changer might be a change of government.
Brooke-Hunt presented research by Screen Australia and the Australian Children`s TV Foundation (ACTF), commissioned due to concern about a dip in the amount of local drama production.