Ofcom sees 'stark' future for kids' TV


LONDON -- U.K. media regulator Ofcom warned Tuesday that the future for U.K.-produced children's television was "stark" and that spending on the genre from the U.K.'s main broadcasters is plunging.

Unveiling the preliminary findings of the regulator's review into the sector, director of market research James Thickett said that spending on kids TV had fallen to £90 million ($178.6 million) from £110 million in 1998 and that the amount spent per hour by the main terrestrial broadcasters has fallen from £85,000 in 1998 to £57,000 ($113,162) in 2006.

Speaking at a media conference in London, Thickett said that that Ofcom has no powers to force broadcasters to protect the kids sector.

"Ofcom has powers to make recommendations, but our power is only to look at the market as a whole," he said. "We have no powers to prevent them (broadcasters) doing what they feel they need to do."

Broadcasters including ITV and the Five channel have recently cut back on their afternoon kids programming, arguing that they needed the advertising income from more commercial programming fare in the critical access primetime period.

Ofcom is expected to publish its full report into the kids' sector in the fall.