5 March 2014
The time has come to review the ad-free bands for preschoolers and school-aged children on free-to-air television.
The recent survey revealing NZ preschoolers viewing habits from Otago University by Dr Leah Watkins is a wake up call that regulations shaped in the late 1980s do not reflect the current realities of families today.
“Preschool and children’s viewing times are shifting as more parents work and family patterns change. But the research by the regulators BSA and ASA on which to base changes that serve children’s interests is not being done, unlike other countries” says Dr Ruth Zanker.
Chair of the NZ Children’s Screen Trust, Janette Howe says, “We know preschoolers are watching television and content on all screens. We have a responsibility to ensure that those experiences are enriching, ad-free and relevant to their identity as New Zealanders. Positive initiatives are happening but we need more of them.”
Mary Phillips, Producer of Sticky TV and Tiki Tour, is passionate about quality programming for our younger viewers. “Pickled Possum contributes significantly to the television NZ preschoolers are viewing, providing an umbrella for learning outcomes for this early age group. It would be a perfect world to have more NZ preschool shows on at a variety of times and broadcasting platforms.”
The NZCST asks that the regulators, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) support parents by reviewing the codes. Duty of care and putting young children’s best interests first is at the heart of regulations in our free-to-air broadcasting system.
Other countries recognise that the medium is a powerful and engaging tool for children and have specialist children’s channels. ABC in Australia has both a preschool and a children’s channel. “Networks also need to be proactive in the absence of a dedicated children’s channel and use this survey as an opportunity to introduce wider ad-free bands for preschoolers and school age children.” says Howe.
“We need to re-think preschool and children’s TV as a priority for them as citizens not consumers.”