BBC plans shake-up of children's news

The BBC is proposing to reduce the amount of children's news it shows by 50 hours a year, in a reaction to changes in the way young viewers access news.

Long-running children's news programme Newsround would revert back to a single daily programme under the proposals, instead of being broadcast in the form of various bulletins throughout the day on the CBBC channel. 

At the same time, the plans submitted to regular Ofcom say that the BBC wants to enhance the provision of Newsround content on its website, with an increase in the number of stories, videos and interactive content.

The BBC says the move is needed to reflect a decline in the number of viewers watching Newsround on the CBBC linear channel and an increase in the number of users accessing Newsround online. In recent times, the once flagship teatime edition of Newsround on TV has moved to the earlier timeslot of 4pm.

Ofcom is consulting on the proposals, and says it's minded to approve them, with certain safeguards, as the amount of first-run programming lost by cutting the news on CBBC won't be replaced with other first-run programmes. As a result, 50 hours of first-run programming a year would be lost from the channel, with repeats filling the gaps.

To ensure that the quality of the BBC’s linear children’s channels is maintained, Ofcom wants to introduce new licence requirements. These will require that at least half of the first-run UK originated children’s pre-teen content and pre-school content that the BBC is required to broadcast is shown either first, or after its initial showing on BBC iPlayer, on the CBBC and CBeebies channels. 

The safeguards come amidst concerns over the reach of the BBC's provisions for children.  Currently, CBBC only reaches one in six of its target audience of 6-12 year olds.

More information about the consultation can be accessed from the Ofcom website. The consultation closes on 13th December 2019.

Updated: 20:29.