Don Foster MP



September 9, 2023 by admin in News

Children may watch more UK originated children’s TV programmes and fewer American cartoons following intervention by Don Foster MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Media. This may also increase investment in such home grown products.

The Liberal Democrats argue that UK made children’s programmes are not easily accessible on some televisions, while children’s programmes from other countries are becoming much more visible. This, combined with a downturn in UK children’s television making, means UK children are growing up watching far more foreign made television than ever before.

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Don Foster argued that the position of programmes on TV Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs) affected the amount of viewing. He questioned a situation where “we allow some EPGs to have UK programme channels way down the list after all the American ones”.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt MP, agreed that the government will look at this crisis in UK children’s television and take legislative action if necessary.

Commenting afterwards, Don Foster said:

“Our children should be able to see programmes made here that are relevant to their lives, not just American cartoons.

“Adults fondly remember the classic UK made programmes they enjoyed when they were young. Our children are getting nothing but reruns and foreign imports that don’t reflect UK culture.”

“The Government’s has agreed to look at how we could promote children’s television better. It won’t fix the funding crisis in UK children’s programming, but with so many American cartoons swamping British televisions, it would be an important step.”


Notes to editors

The Liberal Democrats argue that easy access to UK children’s TV is being eroded by changes to channel menus (or “electronic programming guides” - EPGs). These changes are leaving CBeebies and CBBC, the only channels showcasing original UK children’s content, more and more difficult to find. On Sky’s EPG, for instance, the CBeebies and CBBC are listed after 12 US children’s channels.

This problem will only get worse as other platforms with unregulated EPGs develop. The Liberal Democrats argue that existing powers on EPGs, requiring that public service content be given “appropriate” prominence, need to be strengthened and updated. The Government’s Communications Review provides a good opportunity to update the rules on EPG prominence and give UK made public service content the right level of prominence on televisions.

Transcript of Don Foster’s question to the Jeremy Hunt, and Jeremy Hunt’s response:

Don Foster: The position on the TV electronic programming guide influences what we watch. Can the Secretary of State therefore explain why it is we allow a situation where though we want more of our children to watch more UK originated content than American cartoons we allow some EPG’s to have the American cartoons listed way above the British content?

Jeremy Hunt: My right honourable friend makes a very important point. Position on the EPG is probably going to be the single largest leaver the government has in protecting our tradition of public service broadcasting. We are actively looking at how to make this better, if necessary using legislation.