In a recent speech, the director general of the BBC, Tony Hall, announced that a number of BBC services and channels would need to be cut or closed, in response to a 20% cut in BBC funding, and it had been indicated that the CBeebies channel was in the firing line, with a likelihood that it would be moved to an online only platform.
I benefit daily from CBeebies being available in real time on freeview television and believe it needs to remain in this format, so I launched a petition on Change.org to present to the BBC. I wanted the BBC to fully appreciate the strength of feeling on this matter and understand that Cbeebies is a vital resource, and that the most accessible platform for many toddlers and parents is television.
There had been mixed messages from the BBC, with some sources claiming that CBeebies would remain on television, however Tony Hall when outlining new proposals in a speech at the Science Museum stated "we will inevitably have to either close or reduce some services" and proposals included creating an on demand service for children's content called iPlay.
Hall was additionally quoted as saying that "children may prefer iPlay to scheduled television". An online service, as well as retaining the CBeebies television channel in its current format would of course be fine, but I was sceptical as to how this would be a cost saving measure, and I wanted reassurance from Mr Hall that the television channel will be protected. This is what drove my campaign, coupled with my strong feelings on the values of CBeebies.
CBeebies in its current form is excellent, innovative, entertaining and educational. And crucially it is accessible. As I write this I am on a UK holiday with my wife and son, in an apartment which doesn't have free internet access. This illustrates my point exactly, as if CBeebies was to become available only via BBC iplayer then many people would lose access.
Many parents I know think very highly of CBeebies, both in terms of its content but also the support function it provides them, when trying to juggle looking after their children, with life's other priorities. CBeebies provides a significant role in the lives of parents with little ones, providing an excellent blend of both education and entertainment, and affords parents time to do something else (cooking dinner for example!) while their little one is relaxing, watching CBeebies.
I am the dad of 22 month old, Jacob, who whilst enjoying outdoor activities, greatly enjoys watching CBeebies for entertainment, (Postman Pat and The Twirlywoos being two favourites), whilst also learning from shows like Something Special, which has introduced him to sign language. I can't put Jacob in the garden to run around when he wakes up at 6am and equally don't want him running around inside and waking the neighbours up.
Instead, he sits on the sofa, enjoying a bottle of milk and having quiet time while watching CBeebies. And in the evening after dinner, before his bath and story, CBeebies is a nice way to unwind.
My view was that making the channel available online was not enough, as most toddlers are not proficient in navigating the internet, not all families have access to BBC iplayer, and not all families are able to afford the internet. CBeebies is a vital resource and I wanted the BBC to ensure it remained on an accessible freeview television platform, for all the families who currently benefit.
Thankfully more than 130,000 people agreed with me, as I campaigned on Twitter and Facebook, and even through word of mouth! It appears that others felt as passionately about this as I did, and my campaign became the subject of numerous "mummy blogs" as well as being featured in the local and national press. I must admit, I didn't expect that quite so many people would get on board, but I'm glad they did. Because last week BBC director general Tony Hall told a House of Commons select committee that "we don't have any proposals to take CBeebies and CBBC, as channels, out of the environment". And the BBC article that broke the news, even mentioned my petition. So CBeebies stays on television. Power to the people - and thank you to those who supported me.