Flexibility needed on funding for kids' programming

Head of Coolabi Productions advocates a move away from traditional ways of financing.
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Despite the recent findings from the Ofcom report into the state of children's television, a senior industry figure has said that there are still opportunities in the sector; we just need to be more flexible in our methods.

Julian Scott, head of children's programming at Coolabi Productions, has credits to his name including the BAFTA-nominated King Arthur's Disasters. He told Licensing.biz: "While you cannot fail to recognise the downturn in investment in some areas, you also have to recognise that the remaining terrestrials are still there and opportunities with cable and satellite networks are growing so there is a future for companies that are prepared to be imaginative."

According to Scott, the solution is a move away from the traditional ways of funding and towards a more flexible approach to financing for children's programmes.

"If we look at our model for King Arthur's Disasters, we had about 30 per cent from the UK and the rest came from international sources. That worked very well for us and I think that is certainly the way to go for the future."

With less investment available from the commercial sector, money needs to come from somewhere else, and Scott believes that co-productions and pre-sales will now be the norm.

He sees a future where, for example, a company might be prepared to accept an acquisition fee from a UK broadcaster and retain other potential revenue-earning streams for themselves.

"At Coolabi, we are heavily concerned with rights ownership and exploitation so this sort of model is perfect for us," he said.

However, casualties are inevitable but these will tend to be among companies which have not seen the way that the sector is heading.

"The cream will always rise to the top," Scott added. "Forward thinking companies that invest in high quality IP and take a pragmatic approach to industry conditions are the ones that will survive and thrive to become stronger in the process."

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