In 2015/16, the ABC delivered 259 hours of Australian children’s television. In 2022/23, this had dropped to 147 hours. The enormous success of Bluey has taken the spotlight off this dramatic drop but, unless there is more money provided to the national broadcaster, it is unlikely that Bluey will be followed by any other great Australian productions for children.

The major decline in local children’s programming produced by the ABC coincides with a huge drop on commercial networks because of the Morrison Government deciding in 2021 to abandon quotas for children’s free-to-air television.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) reported last year that there were 95 hours of locally produced children’s content on commercial channels in 2022 – compared to 605 hours in 2019 before the quotas were removed.

Jenny Buckland, CEO of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, said the decrease showed that “without regulation, commercial platforms won’t make any investment in children”.

A cash-strapped ABC is not going to be able to again assume its previous leading role and ensure that Australian children can access sufficient locally reflective programs, which, advocates argue, is vital.

And while the local and international success of Bluey may seem like the one shining light, the ABC was unable to compete with the BBC in a tender for commercial distribution and merchandising rights in 2021.

The Australian Children’s Television Foundation says that Australian children’s television content is the “most vulnerable form of Australian content”, despite having the greatest public benefit. The ACTF argues that children need to see programs which are representative of their lives and identity.

Children’s television production, the ACTF says, is also where many Australian performers, writers, directors, producers, and other crew got their start before going on into the wider Australian film and television sector.

Join our campaign to fund more original content on the ABC – including children’s programs.

The ABC is unable to do more children’s production because the ABC’s five year funding did not restore almost $1 billion in funding cuts between 2013 and 2022. And worse, the government’s formula for calculating indexation does not cover the full cost of inflation – so we could see even more cuts to ABC jobs and programs in this five year period.

In straitened times, the ABC has been forced to make tough choices. The biggest loss has been in the production of first release original content – including arts and children’s programs - as Michael Ward found in a recent report.

Read our story on the impact on arts coverage here.

Until the next federal election, we are going to continue to call on the federal government to fund more original content on the ABC.

It is a campaign we intend to push right through until the next federal election.

Please join us.

Tell the government: fund more original content on the ABC