Statement: BBC Children’s news and first-run UK originated programmes

Published: 15 November 2019
Consultation closes: 13 December 2019
Status: Closed (statement published)

This document explains Ofcom’s final decisions following a request by the BBC to change its Operating Licence to allow it to meet its licence obligations for news and first-run originated content for children through enhanced provision on the Newsround website and on BBC iPlayer. This follows a consultation setting out our provisional views, which we published in November 2019.

Our research shows that children are increasingly consuming content online, while they’re watching much less traditional, scheduled television on the TV set. The evidence also shows that these trends have continued during the Covid-19 pandemic. Given these shifts in children’s media habits, we maintain that it makes sense for the BBC to provide more children’s content online. This should help the BBC to engage better with its youngest audiences, who are critical to its future success.

The BBC acknowledges this and came to Ofcom with a proposal for how it could better engage children through its online services in 2019. To be able to proceed with these plans, the BBC requested changes to its Operating Licence. We have decided to accept the BBC’s request for changes, but with important additional safeguards.

We note that we had intended to take our decision earlier in the year to allow for the changes to come into effect for 1 April 2020, the start of our 2020/21 reporting period for the BBC. However, we decided to delay making this decision because Ofcom decided to put all non-essential decisions and consultations on hold at the beginning of lockdown. Separately, the BBC announced its intention to retain its current children’s news schedule throughout the beginning of lockdown.

Contact information

Lucy Stuart
Riverside House
2A Southwark Bridge Road
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