Viacom’s British broadcaster Channel 5 is looking to significantly ramp up the amount of kids programming it commissions. However, the linear broadcaster has warned that if a proposed ban on junk food advertising goes ahead, it may cut its programming budget across all genres.
The broadcaster’s Milkshake! strand, which airs series including Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig, airs daily between 6am and 9am and up to 10am on weekends. Last year, C5 invested in 29 hours of original content, or 160 episodes, for the strand. Over the next two years, it has promised to double production to over 300 episodes and up to 50 new original hours by 2021.
In the company’s evidence to the House Select Committee on Communications’ Inquiry into Public Service Broadcasting in the Age of Video on Demand, it noted, “As a result of this additional investment Milkshake! will be able to deliver a wider and more diverse range of UK-originated programming, as well as invest in new series of existing shows. This will cement Channel 5’s reputation as a provider of quality UK produced content for the number one pre-school children’s breakfast block on a terrestrial channel.”
However, this investment could be hit if the government extends a broadcast ban on advertising food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS). The current regulations have been in place since 2007 but the government is consulting on proposals to widen this ban to cover all programming before 9pm.
If this proposal goes through, C5 says it would cause a hit of £200M in advertising revenue for UK commercial broadcasters. “As a consequence, Channel 5’s ability to invest in programming would be impacted – not just children’s content but potentially investment in other genres also,” it added.