“We are sleepwalking into a media landscape where UK kids are culturally swamped,” the BBC Children’s boss warned today, as she urged government lobbying and “radical” solutions.

Patricia Hidalgo was sounding the alarm over a lack of investment in UK kids TV amidst an “explosion in choice” from the big U.S. players.

She urged the entire UK sector to ask the government for help, “not just for a handout but because change is happening at such a deep societal level that no solution is possible without [the government].”

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One idea floated by Hidalgo at today’s Westminster Media Forum was extra incentives linked to shows that prove “enhanced cultural relevance,” which would go beyond the current tax credit set-up and “bring IP and productions” back to the nation. A BFI-managed Young Audiences Content Fund ran for three years but was closed in February 2022 to much chagrin from the sector.

Hidalgo provided research to back up her claims of an “explosion in choice,” which showed that the number of TV shows available to UK kids has doubled over the past decade to 1,500, most of which are on pay-TV channels and streaming platforms.

“We are sleepwalking into a media landscape where UK kids are culturally swamped and where we never regain our strength and capacity to create great kids content,” said Hidalgo, who joined from Turner three years ago.

“The good news is we remain committed. My hope is a positive way forward can be found, a radical one if need be. It’s exciting and daunting – a bit like raising a child.”

Hidalgo has been focused on animation since she joined, launching a program early in the job to find a “British Simpsons.” Her comments chimed with BBC comedy boss Jon Petrie, who has called for a comedy tax credit and is spending this year identifying a “package of measures that industry, government and regulators can come together on to safeguard comedy’s future.”

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