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British Government Sets Up $78 Million Fund to Boost Children’s Content

The British government has announced plans for a £60 million ($78.3 million) fund to boost production of new children’s television content. The Contestable Fund, which was announced by British culture minister Jeremy Wright on Friday, aims to halt the decline of U.K.-produced children’s content and reverse a growing trend towards airing repeats.

The initiative will offer additional support for programming made in indigenous British languages such as Welsh and Gaelic; a multi-million-pound offering for commercial radio; and a special fund to help fledgling production companies develop and pitch original concepts.

“Young people in the U.K. deserve high-quality content that entertains, informs and reflects their experiences growing up across the country today,” said Margot James, the government’s minister for the digital sector. “This innovative project is an instrumental part of our support for the U.K.’s vibrant media sector and will help it continue to go from strength to strength.”

Production of new children’s content has fallen in the U.K. over the past decade, with pubcasters now spending about 40% less than they did in 2006. In 2016, 98% of programming aimed at children on commercial children’s channels and 91% on public service broadcasters were repeats.

Plans to combat this decline will see £57 million ($74.3 million) invested in a Young Audiences Content Fund, which will focus on funding new creative and distinctive content. Of this, 5% (£2.85 million) will be set aside to support production companies in developing content ideas. An additional £3 million ($3.9 million) Audio Content Fund will also be set up to encourage greater innovation and experimentation in the British commercial radio sector.

John McVay, chief executive of U.K. media trade association Pact, welcomed the move. “This will help bring new voices into the industry and people’s lives,” said McVay. “Pact championed the need for development funding and the focus on children’s content and is pleased this has been recognized.”

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