The BBC Trust has launched a Service Review of BBC children’s services including CBBC and CBeebies. Users of these services are able to respond to a public consultation until 31st May 2013. Further details and the survey form can be found here. As the BBC are very resistant to taking on board views from the public or fielding questions except on their own terms this may be a good chance to influence the BBC via the BBC Trust.
My view is that CBeebies provides some very good content. But like the rest of the BBC’s output it relays a narrow perception of diversity that perpetuates certain aspects of our culture that I think we should be working to change. My response to the consultation includes the points below:
- CBeebies is male-dominated. Of the current CBeebies shows, 51.6% are male-led; with only 16.1% being female led (see pdf).
- Of the female led shows, there are very few with characters who provide aspirational figures for my daughter, and there are very few who represent my daughter now (aged nearly 3). For example, why does Tree-Fu Tom and most of the other action figures have to be male? Why are most of the authority figures male?
- Representation of disability is, as far as I can tell as a person without disabilities, good. Characters and people with disabilities appear to be integrated and central to shows. CBeebies certainly has representation of disability far in excess of other BBC content. Which begs the question, “why?” – can the rest of the BBC learn from CBeebies in this respect?
- CBeebies under-represents some cultures leading to educational gaps. We rarely see Asian or Chinese cultures represented for example.
- CBeebies presents a narrow view of socioeconomic diversity and therefore does not educate well in terms of different life experiences and places.
- There is very little time spent showing live animals in their natural environments. When live animals are shown they are often overdubbed with human voices.