Since its inception, the relationship between television and the child audience has been the subject of public concern and regulatory attention. Little is known, however, about the recent impact of digitisation on the unfashionable but influential practice of television compliance, that is, the industry’s application of state regulations and broadcasters’ own editorial standards to children’s programmes. Drawing on extended interviews with broadcasters and producers, this article maps developing trends in UK and Australian compliance systems, focusing on their impact on the children’s television produced by public service broadcasters. It demonstrates that multi-platform delivery and dedicated children’s channels have caused a re-calibration of compliance standards, encouraging conservatism and risk aversion in programme production. Furthermore, as public service broadcasters abandon their efforts to attract teenage viewers, the live action drama series at which Australian producers have traditionally excelled are far less likely to be commissioned because their content and themes are considered unsuitable for young children.
Media International Australia / Vol. Article in press