There are stark indications that Children’s television shows in Australia are suffering and in trouble of all but disappearing on most networks. While a number of Emmys have been won recently for ABCME animation Doodles, however, that is it.The networks that offer free programming are required to include a certain percentage to children programming but recently, there has been a lack of new content being released and it instead it is being replaced by animated shows, versus actual television show content.
The lack of content is disappointing considering man recall with fondness that saw television shows such as Playschool, Mortified, Round the Twist and Blue Water High. When quizzed in a survey in 2015 asking people to identify their favourite children’s TV characters, most selected siblings from the show Round the Twist, Linda and Bronson, and Taylor Fry from Mortified.
Prior to 2009, children’s television shows were commissioned by funding from advertiser networks such as Seven, Nine and Ten. They included Ocean Girl, Spellbinders, Lockie Leonard and H20: Just Add Water and were able to provide quality entertainment for Australian children.
The survey was part of the Memory Project and was designed to gauge how much people recalled about shows they watched and the stories that focused on locations within Australia, Australian accents and characters from those shows they recalled. The survey also touched upon storylines, humour, lifestyles and other areas. One major problem is the cost of production and lack of attractiveness for major networks to produce children’s content. Since the 70’s, there have been quotas in place to ensure that a minimum of thirty-two hours of new content is produced each year. That quota is overseen by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Relying on animation
However, since them idle of the 90’s, the networks are turning to animation in order to meet those quotas preferring it over those that are live drama-action based. As both are permitted under the rules, it has seen animated shows providing nearly 80’s of all children related television content, and in 2015-2016, there was not a single live action show produced or seen on network television that is focused towards children.
The reality is it is less expensive to produce animated shows that it is live action and animated shows are easier to sell abroad to other markets. That in itself makes animation more attractive to the networks. Some recent productions include Gumbles, Blinky Blink and Bottersnikes.
Another interesting fact is that the overwhelming number of animated series that are seen Australia designed to fill quota requirements are not recognised as Australian content such as the one produced by Gwen Stefani called Kuu Kuu Harijuku. It is a show about an all-girl pop band that is more U.S themed, than Australian.
What the future holds for this segment seems clear that being the focus will remain on the more profitable animation segment versus live action. This is a shame for buddy actors/actresses who often get their start on such series. Whether the Australian Communications and Media Authority steps in and makes changes to the rules to focus more live action is to be seen, but hopeful for many younger parents who want quality television choices for their children.