Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ofcom's New Guidelines for Kids' TV

From the December 13th edition of Cynopsis! Kids, a story about Ofcom's new guidelines for children's television programming, which will apply to programs produced for both kids and teens (i.e. viewers under 18 years). According to Cynopsis!, the guidelines reflect a growing concern about game shows (and reality shows?) that involve / star child participants, following a series of "high-profile game-related debacles in kids programming in the UK this year." She writes, "Ofcom wants producers to make clear to kids and their families that they might lose, as well as explaining they should pay close attention to the related emotional angst and stresses of performing and the various issues that go with that." The organization recommends that it might be useful for producers to consult with a child psychologist for advice in dealing with the potential negative outcomes / experiences that kids might encounter. Sounds like a good place to start, anyway. Along with these recommendations, the Ofcom guidelines ask producers and broadcasters of kids' programming to comply with existing rules set forth by the Broadcasting Code, including (as cited in Cynopsis! Kids):
* Development of clear guidelines for production staff working with those under eighteen;
* Appropriate background checks on a participant's social, family, health and educational circumstances and a thorough risk assessment if necessary;
* Where practicable, ensuring there is a single, consistent point of contact with whom the participant is able to liaise throughout the production to oversee the child's welfare; and
* Careful consideration of the program format and its likely impact on the participant is recommended. For instance, springing high impact surprises on under eighteens in 'live' or 'as live' programs where conflict or highly emotional situations may be involved, could cause harm and/or distress. Similarly, in genres which involve young children in competition with others, performance anxieties and pressure to succeed may be issues.

Now I'm quite curious to find out whether Canada's Code has similar stipulations in place for game shows, reality-type competition shows and kids.

No comments: