Cartoons robbing children's TV of diversity, says broadcasting watchdog

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Cartoons make up two-thirds of all terrestrial, satellite and cable television for children and the diversity of broadcasting is declining, a report claims.

Some valuable TV shows are becoming an endangered species and parents should be worried by the trend, says the Broadcasting Standards Commission.

Factual programming has fallen to just 2 per cent of total output from all broadcasters and pre-school shows account for only 6 per cent of the total.

Cartoons like The Simpsons, Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry and Disney's Winnie The Pooh have become mainstays which are squeezing other children's programmes out of the schedules, says the BSC's Provision of Children's Television report.

Its new survey found that animation makes up 35 per cent of BBC1's children's output and 40 per cent of ITV's.

ITV's young factual programming has fallen to 7 per cent from 22 per cent . That has been accompanied by a drop in ITV drama aimed at youngsters - from 23 per cent to 12 per cent. Pre-school output has also dropped on BBC1 from 18 per cent in 1981 to 7 per cent last year.

Children's BBC, regarded as the model for broadcasters, should be regulated in the same way as ITV on provision, diversity and foreign programme quotas because it has suffered a decline in budget and home-grown production, the report says. Commission chairman Lady Howe said today: "The diversity of broadcasting offered to British children is declining over the five years of our study and we should be concerned about that. The tradition of public service broadcasting was to encourage the child's development as a good citizen, with critical abilities and an interest in a wide range of issues.This should continue as an important objective as the broadcast media proliferate."