Don Foster MP*


As the school holidays get into full swing, Don predicts a boom in children’s TV viewing. His research shows that the average child in a multi-channel household is likely to watch an extra 22% (16 hours) in August than they would in term time.

Main Image• This extra holiday viewing is over twice as much time as the Governments unambitious target for school children’s sport and physical activity during term time.

• The total number of extra ‘child’ hours watched during August will be 89,088,000, which is 10,168 years. If watched back to back is the same amount of time since the first hunter-gathers arrived in the UK!

• Each child will use approximately 5,500 fewer calories by watching this extra TV instead of playing sports.

Commenting, Don said:

“The increase between term-time and holiday viewing is cause for concern. While there are plenty of great educational children’s TV programmes, the television should not become the holiday nanny.

“While I hope as many children as possible enjoy their summer break, let’s also hope they spend lots of time being active and healthy, and the only ‘Tele-tubbys’ to be found are on the BBC.”


Notes to Editors

1. Viewing Figures:
(The Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB) is responsible for providing estimates of the number of people watching television)

15 digital channels dedicated to children’s programming were identified (listed below), and the sum total of average minutes viewed, were calculated for June 2002 and August 2002, and June 2003 and August 2003. The increase between term time viewing (June) and Holiday viewing (August), was 20.59% in 2002 and 23.53% in 2003. This produces an average increase of 22.06%.

2002 2003 2004
Average Weekly Viewing Average Weekly Viewing Average Increase
(Hrs:Mins) per person (Hrs:Mins) per person of 2002 and 2003
June Total 01:08 01:08
August Total 01:22 01:24
Increase (Percentage) 20.59% 23.53% 22.06%

Average Weekly Viewing (Hrs:Mins) per person
01/06/2023 01/06/2023 01/08/2023 01/08/2023

Cartoon Network 00:08 00:08 00:11 00:09
Cartoon Network Plus 00:03 00:03 00:05 00:03
CBBC 00:01 00:04 00:03 00:08
Cbeebies 00:17 00:16 00:17 00:16
Discovery Kids * 00:01 * 00:01
Disney Channel 00:04 00:05 00:05 00:04
Disney Channel + 1 00:02 00:02 00:02 00:03
Disney Playhouse 00:03 00:02 00:03 00:02
Disney Toon 00:04 00:03 00:04 00:05
Fox Kids 00:05 00:03 00:05 00:05
Fox Kids +1 00:02 00:02 00:02 00:04
Nickelodeon 00:11 00:07 00:13 00:10
Nickelodeon Replay 00:03 00:03 00:05 00:05
Nick Junior 00:05 00:06 00:04 00:06
Nick Toons n/a 00:03 00:03 00:03
TOTAL 01:08 01:08 01:22 01:24

2. School children will watch an extra 16 hours of TV during the holiday month of August.
Almost two thirds of UK households have multi-channel television. Assuming an even distribution, two thirds of children have access to multi-channel televisions, approximately 5,568,000 children (8,352,000 million children aged 5-15). The average time spent watching television for multi-channel homes was 17.7 hours (Ofcom Report). Therefore, those children will watch an extra 3.8 hours (22%) more television per week, that’s 16 hours more for the whole of August (3.8 divided by 7, multiplied by 30)

Information relating to multi-channel homes in UK

Information relating to household and population statistics

3. The calories not used in comparison to playing sport, for the total number of multi-channel household children (and that’s only two thirds of all children) in August will be 30,913,536,000 calories.

66 calories used per hour watching TV, opposed to 413 playing football.
Forgone opportunity of using 347 calories per hour. Multiplied by the 16 hours for the whole of August equals 5,552 calories per child. 5,552 multiplied by 5,568,000 (the number of children living in multi-channel households) equals 30,913,536,000 calories.

4. Last week’s Ofcom report highlighted the mounting body of evidence correlating hours spent in front of the television with poor diet and obesity.
Ofcom report on ‘Child Obesity – food advertising in context’

5. Further evidence was published by Lancet last week showing excessive television viewing in childhood having serious long-term health consequences.

This article published: 06/08/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank

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